MusicBrainz Summit #13

Over the weekend, 17 MusicBrainz fanatics got together at WikiMedia’s German headquarters to discuss the immediate future of MusicBrainz. And in short – we had a blast! A tremendous amount of topics were covered, and we feel this was one of the most productive summits we’ve had so far. From genres to acoustic properties, to internationalization, to artist & label artwork, an incredible amount was discussed.

MusicBrainz Summit #13 Atendees
From left to right: ijabz, CatCat, ianmcorvidae, reosarevok, ruaok, navap, santiissopasse, Anders Arpteg (Spotify), LordSputnik, ocharles, warp, fractalizator, Freso, Mineo, kepstin, JonnyJD

A summary of all topics covered and points discussed can be found on the wiki, with thanks to diligent note taking by everyone who attended. As you’ll see, a lot of topics are now actionable, so hopefully work will begin to move forward with these. While it remains unclear what the solution is to some topics, the constructive conversations around them is helping us slowly move forward in the right direction.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a MusicBrainz summit if it was work work work – there was plenty of mayhem and play too! On Saturday we had our summit meal at Max & Moritz – complete with a police escort due to some unfortunately timed protests. A novel twist for a group meal… yet oddly consistent with the fresh and unpredictable nature of MusicBrainz.

ruaok takes a hard earned break... on Freso!
ruaok takes a hard earned break… on Freso!

We also want to thank our sponsors who made the summit possible. Thank you to Spotify and Google’s Open Source Programs Office! Your support paid for some airfares, our lodging, summit meals and a large pile U-Bahn tickets. And of course, a big thanks also goes to Wikimedia Germany and in particular to Lydia Pintscher for baby-sitting us all weekend and also for making awesome introductions to other people to help with specific summit topics.

Thanks again to everyone who attended. Until next year!

MusicBrainz Summit 13: Berlin, Germany 21 & 22 September 2013

After we were not able to confirm space in our previously agreed city, we started looking for alternative places to host our summit and Wikimedia Germany in Berlin graciously agreed to host us!

This means that we’re going to hold our annual MusicBrainz summit at Wikimedia Germany in Berlin on September 21 and 22. However, please note that space is limited to 20 people, so if you’re interested in attending, please sign up as soon as you can!

Please take a look at the summit wiki page and then add yourself to the appropriate places in that page if you’d like to come.

I’m looking forward to seeing familiar and new faces!

MusicBrainz Summit 12 – a Brief Summary

Last weekend approximately 20 dedicated MusicBrainz fans and customers all got together at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona to discuss all things metadata. Now that the weekend has passed, and everyone is back at their respective homes, I can fill you in on how this fantastic summit went. We talked about a lot of topics at the summit, and I encourage you to read the extensive notes that Ian took (a huge thanks!) if you’re interested in all the details.

Friday was a lazy day while people arrived, but we did spend a bit of time at the summit venue. We got an introduction from Music Kickup – a new Finnish startup which offers a cloud based record label for artists. Spotify presented their ingestion process, which was helpful as at MusicBrainz we’re beginning to plan the new Ingestr project.

On Saturday we got under way with the summit proper. Brewster Kahle from the Internet Archive spoke on how the Archive works, and its plans going forward to try and archive even more about music. The general motivation is to provide listeners with more ways to explore and discover content, and the Archive are looking for ways that MusicBrainz can help with its linking its metadata to the Archive’s content.

Next, we moved on to discuss the Artist Image Archive – or more generally, adding more images to MusicBrainz. The conclusion was here that this is certainly a wanted feature, and we would like to try and use Wikimedia Commons to store public domain/CC-licensed artwork and fall back to the Archive for other content. We also lightly talked about adding label images, and the Archive are again happy to host this content if that’s needed.

While waiting for the full CompMusic team to be present, we outlined Ingestr, a forthcoming MusicBrainz tool to work with dumps of metadata. CompMusic then presented what they are working on, and how it ties in with MusicBrainz. They are currently storing some data outside the MusicBrainz schema, but would love to store as much as possible inside our database (and we’d love that too!). They are interested in adding more information to works, such as ragas and talas for Indian classical music.

The final topic on Saturday was to try and get some ideas going on how we want to store events, locations and venues inside MusicBrainz. No conclusions were reached here, but there was a lot of excitement and considerations and what we want to store, with the suggestion that some of this work might make a fantastic Summer of Code project next year.

We picked up on Sunday, and dived straight in with a discussion on bringing multiple release countries/release dates back to single releases, with a consensus that this should be done. Work here will probably resume in February, with the next schema change.

Dynamic work attributes were next on the agenda, and we sketched out a plan on how we can add new attributes to works that don’t depend on schema changes. This should allow us to add ragas and talas for the CompMusic folks, but also many other interesting properties. Again, work on this one is looking likely to begin again for the next schema change.

Much like Summit 11, the instrument tree came up again. People were in agreement that we want richer data about instruments, and making them entities that can be used in relationships (including between instruments) is probably the way to go.

nikki outlined her proposal on data quality, and we all spent a bit of time discussing what we’re trying to achieve with data quality, how to overcome the social problems with the word ‘quality’, and so on.

Warp bought up the problem of capturing series of releases in MusicBrainz, and we discussed how to solve this problem (for example, consider the ‘Dubstep Allstars’ series of releases). We agreed that the best way to move forward is to introduce the idea of ordered series, and deal with unordered series later.

The difficult topic of box sets came up, and while we didn’t make a clear decision on how to solve this problem, people had the chance to explain solutions as they see them, and everyone has a good understanding of both the challenges of box sets and the information that we’re trying to capture.

Like in Summit 11, we once more discussed the hard problem of genres, as these have become something that customers are increasingly requesting. We outlined all the various solutions that other projects use (such as SoundCloud, Music Kickup, and SoundUnwound). This topic didn’t reach any type of conclusion, but it was good to have some cross-pollination of ideas.

We wrapped up the day with some social topics, and ocharles started a discussion on how we can better promote ourselves and communicate our new features. There was a lot of energy in this discussion, but some of the key ideas were – more community interaction on blog posts, a clear ‘checklist’ of what to do when we release big features. kepstin also volunteered to look at rewriting the landing page with something more interesting than the static page we currently have.

The summit has proven once again to be a fantastic experience, not just for the quality of discussions, but also the level of interaction between participants. With the Saturday group meal, socialising at the apartment and continued discussions during breaks at the summit itself, it was great to see people chatting, laughing and generally having a great time.

Thanks to everyone who came for making the summit what it was. We hope to see you all again next year!

Possible date change for our summit: 9-11 November 2012

I’ve just found out that the Music Hack Day London conflicts with our summit in Barcelona. 😦 Given that a few people from MusicBrainz wanted to attend that Hack Day, we’re considering the possibility of changing our summit date to 9-11 November.

I’ve already contacted all of the people who signed up as potential attendees, but I wanted to throw this suggestion out to all of you who might consider going.

If you have a problem with the new date, please post a comment. If we dont get any significant conflicts, we may change the date.


MusicBrainz Summit 12: Barcelona Spain, 16-18 November, 2012

We’ve just finalized the dates and location for the 12th MusicBrainz summit. This year we’re going to meet in Barcelona, Spain on the weekend of 16-18 November. Our friends at the Comp Music project at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra will be hosting us during the day and we will likely rent an apartment for most of us to sleep at. It is still a bit early to make travel plans (plane tickets will get cheaper in late september), but in the meantime, please add yourself to our summit page if you’re interested in attending.

UPDATE: The summit is the previous weekend, November 9 to 11.

Mini-Summit Session Notes

Yesterday we held our mini-summit in London to great success. The MusicBrainz team huddled up in a hotel last night and finished writing up notes of everything we covered, and you can now have a look at them on the wiki at MusicBrainz Summit/2012-Mini_Summit/Notes. In general, we provided an update of what’s been happening at MusicBrainz, what’s coming up in the future, and heard how each company are using MusicBrainz. Discussions have started with respect to classical support, but don’t expect anything concrete any time soon!

Many thanks to everyone who came along to this summit and helped make it work – it was great seeing you all!

Mini-summit and pub evening in London on January 30

The BBC requested that we convene a meeting with MusicBrainz community members and MusicBrainz developers in London. The goal of this meeting is to open lines of communication between MusicBrainz community members and developers and the BBC. Now that editors from the BBC and its affiliates are using MusicBrainz more, we should aim to properly indoctrinate these editors into MusicBrainz’ community.

I’ve decided to take this opportunity and invite other companies who are using MusicBrainz or are interested in using MusicBrainz to join this meeting. If you are interested in working with MusicBrainz commercially and would like to find out more about MusicBrainz, please feel free to attend this meeting. This all-day mini-summit will focus on the people who attend the summit — the attendees will largely set the agenda for the day. We will have technical, community and business focused representatives present who can talk about nearly all aspects of MusicBrainz.

The meeting will be held on January 30 in central London — the exact venue will be determined shortly. If you are interested in attending our mini-summit, please send me email at rob at musicbrainz dot org. Please tell me who you are, which company you represent and what sorts of topics you would like to see discussed. I’ll start building a rough agenda based on this feedback.

After the meeting we’re going to adjourn to a pub and enjoy a pint of beer. If you’re interested in MusicBrainz more casually or would like to meet some of the people behind MusicBrainz, feel free to pop in. As with the main portion of the meeting, we’ll pick a central London venue closer to the date.

I will mail out information about the mini-summit directly to the attendees, but I will post more information about the pub evening here on this blog.

I hope to see you in London at the end of the month!

MusicBrainz Summit 11: Rotterdam

Hello everyone,

The 11th MusicBrainz summit was held this past weekend in Rotterdam, NL.

It was a very productive weekend with lots of discussions and plenty of social time. We had 17 people in attendance, 5 of which were from our sponsors/partners. The complete summit notes are now available on the wiki.

For those who didn’t attend, here are some of the things you missed out on:

  • 3 lbs of chocolate
  • banana pizza
  • stroopwafels
  • generic beer and energy drinks
  • overloading the wifi and having to rely on tethered cell phones for wifi access
  • an extremely high density of Google phones
  • 3 hours of discussion about works
  • information about BookBrainz
  • very large traffic lights

Thanks to everyone who came and to warp for being our local contact.

See you all at the next summit!

MusicBrainz Summit 11: October 15/16/17, Rotterdam, Netherlands


I had originally planned to have a post-NGS celebration and hack day with the MusiXmatch teams in Bologna this month, but timing and costs proved to be an issue. Instead, we’re going to hold a traditional MusicBrainz summit in Warp’s town of Rotterdam, Netherlands. The general idea for this summit is very rough, but I would like to focus on community discussions on the weekend (Oct 15/16) and then focus on customer discussions on Monday the 17 Oct. Everyone would be welcome to attend all portions of the summit, but we’ll have a different focus for different parts of the summit.

I expect the core MusicBrainz team and representatives from Zvooq, and MusiXmatch to be at the summit. We’re going to be soliciting for sponsorships in order to help cover the costs of the summit. If you’re interested in attending and/or sponsoring the summit, please comment on this post. Depending on the level of sponsorships we can drum up, we might be able to pay for lodging/food for community members who wish to attend. We’ve made that possible in the past and I would very much like to be able to do that again.

I’m quite looking forward to meeting some of you in Rotterdam!