MetaBrainz Foundation Annual Report for 2008

Here is the MetaBrainz Foundation annual report for 2008:


2008 was a busy year for MusicBrainz: Our traffic doubled from January to December, we grew from 8 to 13 servers and we earned $35,000 more than in 2007. Most importantly we started 2008 with only one full time employee and ended the year with 2 and a half full time employees. Between having more employees and having three students work on Google Summer of Code projects, we’ve had more code written in 2008 than we have ever had before. A lot of these projects were long-term projects that would take us well into 2009 before seeing benefit from this work. Consequently we had only one server update in all of 2008, but we’re expecting to have about 3 major releases this year.

Despite widespread upheaval in the world economy, MusicBrainz managed to grow and stay consistent all through 2008. We added, MetaWeb and Cloudspeakers as our major customers and Google sponsored MusicBrainz with another $30,000 donation. Finishing 2008 with $71,000 in the bank MusicBrainz starts 2009 strong and healthy.

Profit & Loss

In 2008 the foundation took in $126,442.26 and spent $94,717.79 for a total profit of $31,724.47. (non-profits can still earn a profit, but that profit must be reinvested into the company, not paid out to its officers and directors.) A detailed break down of where the income came from and where it went to is shown below:


Direct donations $30,219.00
PayPal donations $13,271.25
Consulting (GSoC Mentor income) $1,500
Live Data Feed licenses $60,472.56
CC Data Licenses $2,400.00
Interest $1,211.92
Amazon Associates $1060.72
CD Baby affiliate $11.00
Tagger Affiliates $16,294.94
Bank Credits $0.87
Total income:   $126,442.26


Bank fees $240.90
PayPal fees $1,546.61
Rent $2,856.00
Hardware $9,107.98
Travel $2,456.61
Internet $275.41
Marketing $1,564.69
Development $60,415.16
Supplies $38.23
Gifts $100.00
Events $792.17
Hosting $11,904.50
Filing Fees $45.00
Software $239.92
Entertainment $75.15
Insurance $2008.00
Accounting $965.00
Shipping $86.46
Total expense:   $94,717.79

This Profit & Loss shows:

  • It cost $21,012.48 to host MusicBrainz in 2008 — this includes hardware and hosting costs.
  • PayPal donations, which represent end-user support for MusicBrainz, came to $13,271.25, about 10.5% of our total income. It has been our goal to have the end-users pay for hosting MusicBrainz, but this year we fell significantly short of that goal due to greatly increased hardware costs. However, if we take into account the income from the Tagger Affiliate program, then the picture improves quite a bit. Tagger Affiliate income is MusicBrainz’ 10% revenue share of end-user registrations of third party applications that use MusicBrainz. Counting these, our end user contributions total $29,566.19, which exceeds the cost to host MusicBrainz by over $9,000.
  • As expected, salaries continue to be the largest expense for The Foundation. In 2008 it paid $58,000 in salaries to Robert Kaye, which was still below a reasonable salary level for an Engineer/Executive Director in California. Its first non-founder employee Oliver Charles was paid $2,415.16 for just over three months of work.
  • $62,872.56 was earned licensing the MusicBrainz data for commercial use, which represents 49.7% of the total income. This is up over 9% from last year.

In 2008 the foundation spent, $21,012.48 on hosting and hardware costs and served out 1.3 billion web hits and 790 million web service hits. Calculating a cost per hit, we find that we spent $16.21 per one million web hits and $26.58 per one million web service hits. These values are down significantly from the 2007 values of $17.89 and $33.58 respectively.

Balance Sheet

The balance sheet for the end of 2008 showed the MetaBrainz Foundation with $39,525.20 retained earnings, a net income of $31,249.67 and total cash assets of $71,249,67.


The following chart shows our traffic growth for 2007 and 2008:

Musicbrainz Traffic 2007-2008

The blue line represents the overall number of hits to The red line shows how many of the overall hits were web service (API) hits; as you can see towards the end of 2007 half of our overall hits were web service hits. Towards the end of 2008 our web service hits accounted for 60.9% of our overall hits, up from 50% in 2007.

Top data contributors

Top editors:

drsaunde 141064
ojnkpjg 40796
murdos 33517
voiceinsideyou 32660
knakker 31598
brianfreud 30242
teleguise 29756
bgibbard 23676
MrH 22521
Isomer 21203
cooperaa 19808
mudcrow 19162
fred576 17634
chiark 17561
StoneyBoh 16637
zos18 16466
Jormangeud 16264
leivhe 15983
Mistoffeles 15710
Creap 15373
jesus2099 12990
Dr. Default 12099
montesquieu 11810
infofarmer 10990
nikki 10015

Top voters:

ojnkpjg 35834
drsaunde 35374
voiceinsideyou 28376
chiark 20704
mudcrow 19892
murdos 14793
leivhe 12864
bogdanb 12560
bgibbard 11898
cooperaa 10954
symphonick 10642
teleguise 9778
vincentrichter 8668
MClemo 8302
DrMuller 6847
bawjaws 6208
infofarmer 5861
PhantomOTO 5747
Kerensky97 5740
debris77 5611
lukz 5460
dmppanda 5163
krazykiwi 5097
dj_empirical 5035
Atedos 4970

A big thank you to all of the editors/voters who contributed! MusicBrainz would be nothing without your hard work!

Server farm

MusicBrainz has grown to 13 machines in service:

MusicBrainz Servers

From the top, going down:

  • moose: Our database server
  • scooby: Our aging catch all server: blog, wiki, forums, mailing lists, etc
  • catbus: Raw datavbase server (raw tags, collections, etc)
  • bender: Former TRM server, now idle cold spare machine
  • blik: Backups and memcached
  • stimpy, dexter: Web, web service servers
  • cartman: Search server
  • wiley: New catch all server: SVN, trac
  • lenny/carl: Redundant network gateways
  • misty/jem: Search servers

MusicBrainz currently requires somewhere between 3 and 4 mbits of bandwidth per second and draws 18 Amps of current for a power consumption of nearly 2,000 Watts. MusicBrainz physically occupies 20Us of space (half of a rack) at Digital West in San Luis Obispo, CA.

Words of Appreciation

2008 was an exciting year for MusicBrainz and it could not have happened without the countless volunteers who have spent inordinate amounts of time and effort working on MusicBrainz. It is not possible to thank everyone who has contributed — for starters see the list of top editors and top voters. There were so many people behind the scenes or at partner companies that are not readily apparent from the outside.

MetaBrainz would like to thank Matthew Wood and his entire team at the BBC; through Matthew’s efforts the relationship between the BBC and MusicBrainz has been flourishing. Wendell Hicken and Sergey Borisov at MusicIP are the stars at MuiscIP who look out for MusicBrainz every day. Lukáš Lalinský, Oliver Charles, Aurélien Mino and Brian Schweitzer — your contributions to the MusicBrainz server cannot be underestimated! Dave Evans, you’re MusicBrainz’ unsung hero for all of your efforts behind the scene — MusicBrainz keeps running because of you!

Thanks to everyone who helped MusicBrainz in 2008 — MusicBrainz could not exist without you!

Finally, in 2008 quite a few contributors donated chocolate to MusicBrainz as a form of appreciation. Last year working on MusicBrainz was helped along with chocolate from Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Norway, the United Kingdom. Thanks to everyone who sent in chocolate!

7 thoughts on “MetaBrainz Foundation Annual Report for 2008”

  1. Warm feeling to see that MB becomes sounder every year., and its vision becoming reality. Congrats for this mayhem.

  2. Love the pictures of the cute wee half-a-rack that is M[eta|usic]Brainz! Thanks again mayhem + NAvAP for producing this, great to see! And wow, isn’t Jaikoz doing well. A big congratulations (and thank you!) to Paul on that front.

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