Last updated
MusicBrainz Logo with text (2016).svg
MusicBrainz homepage.png
MusicBrainz homepage
Type of site
Online music encyclopedia [1]
Available inEnglish
Owner MetaBrainz Foundation
Created byRobert Kaye
RegistrationOptional (required for editing data)
Users Over 2 million registered accounts
LaunchedJuly 17, 2000;23 years ago (2000-07-17) [2]
Current statusOnline
Content license
Part Creative Commons Zero (open data) and part CC-BY-NC-SA (not open); commercial licensing available
Written in Perl with PostgreSQL database

MusicBrainz is a MetaBrainz project that aims to create a collaborative music database that is similar to the freedb project. MusicBrainz was founded in response to the restrictions placed on the Compact Disc Database (CDDB), a database for software applications to look up audio CD information on the Internet. MusicBrainz has expanded its goals to reach beyond a CD metadata (this is information about the performers, artists, songwriters, etc.) storehouse to become a structured online database for music. [3] [4]


MusicBrainz captures information about artists, their recorded works, and the relationships between them. Recorded works entries capture at a minimum the album title, track titles, and the length of each track. These entries are maintained by volunteer editors who follow community written style guidelines. Recorded works can also store information about the release date and country, the CD ID, cover art, acoustic fingerprint, free-form annotation text and other metadata. As of October 2023, MusicBrainz contains information on roughly 2.2 million artists, 3.9 million releases, and 30.4 million recordings. [5] End-users can use software that communicates with MusicBrainz to add metadata tags to their digital media files, such as ALAC, FLAC, MP3, Ogg Vorbis or AAC.

Cover Art Archive

Logo of Cover Art Archive Cover Art Archive Logo with text (2020).svg
Logo of Cover Art Archive

MusicBrainz allows contributors to upload cover art images of releases to the database; these images are hosted by Cover Art Archive (CAA), a joint project between Internet Archive and MusicBrainz started in 2012. Internet Archive provides the bandwidth, storage and legal protection for hosting the images, while MusicBrainz stores metadata and provides public access through the Web and via an API for third parties to use. As with other contributions, the MusicBrainz community is in charge of maintaining and reviewing the data. [6] Until May 16, 2022, [7] cover art was also provided for items on sale at and some other online resources, but CAA is now preferred, because it gives the community more control and flexibility for managing the images. As of October 2023, over 4.6 million images exist in the archive. [8]


Besides collecting metadata about music, MusicBrainz also allows looking up recordings by their acoustic fingerprint. A separate application, such as MusicBrainz Picard, is used to do this.

Proprietary services

In 2000, MusicBrainz started using Relatable's patented TRM (a recursive acronym for TRM Recognizes Music) for acoustic fingerprint matching. This feature attracted many users and allowed the database to grow quickly. However, by 2005 TRM was showing scalability issues as the number of tracks in the database had reached the millions. This issue was resolved in May 2006 when MusicBrainz partnered with MusicIP (now AmpliFIND), replacing TRM with MusicDNS. [9] TRMs were phased out and replaced by MusicDNS in November 2008.

In October 2009 MusicIP was acquired by AmpliFIND. [10] Sometime after the acquisition, the MusicDNS service began having intermittent problems.[ citation needed ]

AcoustID and Chromaprint

Since the future of the free identification service was uncertain, a replacement for it was sought. The Chromaprint acoustic fingerprinting algorithm, the basis for AcoustID identification service, was started in February 2010 by a long-time MusicBrainz contributor Lukáš Lalinský. [11] While AcoustID and Chromaprint are not officially MusicBrainz projects, they are closely tied with each other and both are open source. Chromaprint works by analyzing the first two minutes of a track, detecting the strength in each of 12 pitch classes, storing these eight times per second. Additional post-processing is then applied to compress this fingerprint while retaining patterns. [12] The AcoustID search server then searches from the database of fingerprints by similarity and returns the AcoustID identifier along with MusicBrainz recording identifiers, if known.


Since 2003, [13] MusicBrainz's core data (artists, recordings, releases, and so on) are in the public domain, and additional content, including moderation data (essentially every original content contributed by users and its elaborations), is placed under the Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 license. [14] The relational database management system is PostgreSQL. The server software is covered by the GNU General Public License. The MusicBrainz client software library, libmusicbrainz, is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License, which allows use of the code by proprietary software products.

In December 2004, the MusicBrainz project was turned over to the MetaBrainz Foundation, a non-profit group, by its creator Robert Kaye. [15] On 20 January 2006, the first commercial venture to use MusicBrainz data was the Barcelona, Spain-based Linkara in their "Linkara Música" service. [16]

On 28 June 2007, BBC announced that it had licensed MusicBrainz's live data feed to augment their music web pages. The BBC online music editors would also join the MusicBrainz community to contribute their knowledge to the database. [17]

On 28 July 2008, the beta of the new BBC Music site was launched, which publishes a page for each MusicBrainz artist. [18] [19]

Client software

Freedb clients could also access MusicBrainz data through the freedb protocol by using the MusicBrainz to FreeDB gateway service, mb2freedb. The gateway was shut down on March 18, 2019. [21]

See also

Related Research Articles

Freedb was a database of user-submitted compact disc track listings, where all the content was under the GNU General Public License. To look up CD information over the Internet, a client program calculated a hash function from the CD table of contents and used it as a disc ID to query the database. If the disc was in the database, the client was able to retrieve and display the artist, album title, track list and some additional information.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">FLAC</span> Lossless digital audio coding format

FLAC is an audio coding format for lossless compression of digital audio, developed by the Xiph.Org Foundation, and is also the name of the free software project producing the FLAC tools, the reference software package that includes a codec implementation. Digital audio compressed by FLAC's algorithm can typically be reduced to between 50 and 70 percent of its original size and decompresses to an identical copy of the original audio data.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">CD ripper</span> Software that convert tracks on a Compact Disc to standard computer sound files

A CD ripper, CD grabber, or CD extractor is software that rips raw digital audio in Compact Disc Digital Audio (CD-DA) format tracks on a compact disc to standard computer sound files, such as WAV or MP3.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">CDex</span> CD ripper

CDex is a free software package for Digital Audio Extraction from Audio CD and audio format conversion for Microsoft Windows. It converts CDDA tracks from a CD to standard computer sound files, such as WAV, MP3, or Ogg Vorbis. CDex was previously released as free software under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL); however, although the website claims that this is still the case, no source code has been released since 2005. It was originally written by Albert L. Faber, and is developed and maintained by Georgy Berdyshev. Recent versions of the software may be compromised and a security threat.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Exact Audio Copy</span>

Exact Audio Copy (EAC) is a CD ripping program for Microsoft Windows. The program has been developed by Andre Wiethoff since 1998. Wiethoff's motivation for creating the program was that other such software only performed jitter correction while scratched CDs often produced distortion.

The Extensible Metadata Platform (XMP) is an ISO standard, originally created by Adobe Systems Inc., for the creation, processing and interchange of standardized and custom metadata for digital documents and data sets.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Banshee (media player)</span> Open source media player

Banshee was a cross-platform open-source media player, called Sonance until 2005. Built upon Mono and Gtk#, it used the GStreamer multimedia platform for encoding, and decoding various media formats, including Ogg Vorbis, MP3 and FLAC. Banshee can play and import audio CDs and supports many portable media players, including Apple's iPod, Android devices and Creative's ZEN players. Other features include integration, album artwork fetching, smart playlists and podcast support. Banshee is released under the terms of the MIT License. Stable versions are available for many Linux distributions, as well as a beta preview for OS X and an alpha preview for Windows.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">MusicBrainz Picard</span> Free and open source audio tagger

MusicBrainz Picard is a free and open-source software application for identifying, tagging, and organising digital audio recordings. It was developed by the MetaBrainz Foundation, a non-profit company that also operates the MusicBrainz database.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tag editor</span> Software for editing the metadata of media files

A tag editor is an app that can add, edit, or remove embedded metadata on multimedia file formats. Content creators, such as musicians, photographers, podcasters, and video producers, may need to properly label and manage their creations, adding such details as title, creator, date of creation, and copyright notice.

AmpliFIND is an acoustic fingerprinting service and a software development kit developed by the US company MusicIP.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jaikoz</span> Java tagging program

Jaikoz is a Java program used for editing and mass tagging music file tags.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gracenote</span> American data company

Gracenote, Inc. is a company and service that provides music, video and sports metadata and automatic content recognition (ACR) technologies to entertainment services and companies, worldwide. Formerly CDDB, Gracenote maintains and licenses an Internet-accessible database containing information about the contents of audio compact discs and vinyl records. From 2008 to 2014, it was owned by Sony, later sold to Tribune Media, and has been owned since 2017 by Nielsen Holdings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mp3tag</span> Tag editor for Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS

Mp3tag is a metadata tag editor that supports many popular audio file formats. It is freeware for Microsoft Windows, while it costs USD $19.99 for Apple macOS in the Mac App Store.

CDDB, short for Compact Disc Database, is a database for software applications to look up audio CD information over the Internet. This is performed by a client which calculates a (nearly) unique disc ID and then queries the database. As a result, the client is able to display the artist name, CD title, track list and some additional information. CDDB is a licensed trademark of Gracenote, Inc.

The following comparison of audio players compares general and technical information for a number of software media player programs. For the purpose of this comparison, "audio players" are defined as any media player explicitly designed to play audio files, with limited or no support for video playback. Multi-media players designed for video playback, which can also play music, are included under comparison of video player software.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Clementine (software)</span> Free and open source audio player

Clementine is a free and open-source audio player. It is a port of Amarok 1.4 to the Qt 4 framework and the GStreamer multimedia framework. It is available for Unix-like, Windows and macOS operating systems. Clementine is released under the terms of the GPL-3.0-or-later.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Puddletag</span> Tag editor for Unix-like operating systems

Puddletag is a graphical audio file metadata editor ("tagger") for Unix-like operating systems.

AcoustID is a webservice for the identification of music recordings based on the Chromaprint acoustic fingerprint algorithm. It can identify entire songs but not short snippets.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Guayadeque Music Player</span> Free and open source audio player

Guayadeque was a free and open-source audio player with database written in C++ using the WxWidgets toolkit. It uses Gstreamer to manage the audio and SQLite for the music metadata database. A Qt rewrite of the program was planned in 2019, but it did not end up happening. On September 29, 2023, it was announced on the Guayadeque forums that development had ceased.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kid3</span> Tag editor

Kid3 is an open-source cross-platform audio tag editor for many audio file formats. It supports DSF, MP3, Ogg, FLAC, MPC, MPEG-4 (mp4/m4a/m4b), AAC, Opus, SPX, TrueAudio, APE, WavPack, WMA, WAV, AIFF, tracker modules.


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  14. MusicBrainz License as of 13-11-2010.
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Further reading