Announcing the beta launch of CritiqueBrainz

I’m proud to announce that we’ve launched a beta version of our new project: CritiqueBrainz.

CritiqueBrainz is a music review site, where anyone can write a music review for an artist or a release-group (album, single, etc). Unlike Wikipedia’s neutral point of view policy, this site is about passionate reviews about music. If an album is horrible, please write a review about why it is horrible. If it is great, please write one telling us what makes it great.

All of the reviews in CritiqueBrainz will be Creative Commons licensed. The user has a choice to license their review under CC-by-nc-sa (disallowing commercial use) or CC-by-sa (allowing commercial use). To get the site started, the BBC was kind enough to send us their collection of almost 9,000 CC licensed reviews. Go and have a look — there are a lot of reviews for you to read, right now!

CritiqueBrainz is a new web site that was originally written by Maciej Czerwiński for last year’s Summer of Code. All of the goals for the project were met last year, but that didn’t leave us with a site that was ready for deployment. For this year’s Summer of Code, Roman Tsukanov picked up the project and immediately started fixing bugs, making improvements and generally rocking the project into stability and drastically improved the look and feel of the site. On the beginning day of Summer of Code, we’re ready for a beta release!

This past weekend, I attended Music Hack Day San Francisco and worked with Roman to add Spotify integration into the site. If you have a Spotify account, you can listen to the music as you read the reviews. So far, we’ve matched 250,000 release-groups in MusicBrainz to Spotify! Even if an album doesn’t have a review, you can still browse all of MusicBrainz via CritiqueBrainz and if we have a matched Spotify album, you can listen to it by clicking the play button under the cover art.

If an album you find doesn’t have a match in Spotify, we invite you to help us find a match and submit it to Spotify. Click on the “Match this!” link, which will execute a search via Spotify’s API to try and find a matching album. Due to some limitations in the Spotify API, this doesn’t work as well as we want to — we plan to pester Spotify to improve their API to make this a better experience.

We’re hoping to make CritiqueBrainz a user site that uses more cover-art and white space to make a site that is friendlier to browse the amazing pieces of information that MusicBrainz has collected. Unlike the data nerds at MusicBrainz, not everyone loves information overload; this site should hopefully make non-data nerds happy about MusicBrainz data.

If you find a bug, or have a suggestion for improving the site, please file a bug report here and Roman will have a look at it.

Thanks to everyone who had a hand in making this project a reality and thanks to Google’s Open Source programs office for making Summer of Code happen!

7 thoughts on “Announcing the beta launch of CritiqueBrainz”

  1. Fantastic work, I had a quick go with the API and it works well. Nice that BBC helped with this data, I wonder if there are any more CC reviews available from other providers?

  2. Great work, this will attract users and contributors to the project, I reckon!
    One thing I wanted to ask: why aren’t the reviews giving a rating to the release they review? I could not see the option to do so. I think a 10-star rating or something similar should be implemented – and ideally linked to the user ratings gathered in the MB database.

  3. Nice work. And great that the BBC are kick-starting it with the 9000 CC licensed reviews. The Spotify integration is impressive. The 250,000 release-groups in MusicBrainz that have been matched to Spotify, are these matchings in the MusicBrainz db? i couldn’t find them….. Any plans to integrate them into the DB schema?

  4. Nice job, nice collaborations (kudos to the BBC). I’d love to see this spotify integration with other streaming platforms (Grooveshark, Deezer…).

  5. zag: I’m talking to others about getting more reviews.

    Eoghan: The mapping is unvetted, so its not ready to get into MB. Not sure how to proceed, but I’m really hoping the streaming companies will include MBIDs before too long so we don’t have to do the mapping for them.

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