MusicBrainz Summit / 13

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MusicBrainz Summit 13 occurred on the 21st and 22nd of September, 2013 at Wikimedia Germany in Berlin.

Quote of the summit: "Can you please toss me the broccoli?"


A big thank you to Google and Spotify for sponsoring the 2013 summit, and to Wikimedia Deutschland for hosting and providing good internet!

Summit attendees

Special guests:

  • Lydia Pintscher from Wikimedia / Wikidata
  • Anders Arpteg from Spotify

MusicBrainz community:

  • CatCat
  • fractalizator
  • Freso
  • ianmcorvidae
  • ijabz
  • JonnyJD
  • kepstin
  • LordSputnik
  • Mineo
  • navap
  • nikki
  • ocharles
  • reosarevok
  • ruaok
  • warp


11 - 12

Setting the agenda
State of the MB
Spotify introduction (Anders Arpteg)

12 - 1pm

Geordi introduction
External data matching

1 - 1:30 Break
1:30 - 1:45 Spotify ingestion process
1:45 - 2:15 NES Overview
2:30 - 2:45 Improving UX
2:45 - 3 Guiding new users (edit visibility, voting, subscriptions, etc.)
3 - 3:20 Break
3:20 - 3:30 Artist/label art
3:30 - 4

Acoustic data

4 - 4:20 Voting
4:20 - 4:40 Break
4:40 - 5:30 Genres
10:30 - 10:40 Agenda revision
10:40 - 11 i18n
11 - 11:20 Promotion ideas
11:20 - 11:40 DiscIDs
11:40 - 12:10 Break
12:10 - 12:30 Home page redesign
12:30 - 12:50 Series
12:50 - 1:00 Elephant IDs
1 - 2 Lunch
2 - 2:05 Classical
2:05 - 2:15 WavePlot
2:15 - 2:30 MusicBrainz Audio Player
2:30 - 5

NES & UX breakout sessions

Discussion notes


State of the MB

  • MB is still hosted in California; hosting on autopilot, “when it dies, it dies”. Basic support from hosting folks to keep things running.
  • Long term plans are to eventually move hosting away from California
  • Online music monetization


  • Development led by Ian
  • Geordi is a third party dataset ingester
  • Data mappings are created per third party dataset
  • Data is then made available at for users to complete the ingestion


  • Spotify uses data from official label sources as well as third party sources
  • They would like to explore a (better) relationship with MusicBrainz data
  • They would like to have the “perfect music for every moment”

MusicBottle / User friendliness


  • Checkbox to be added to recordings marking them as video as a “stopgap” minimum measure
  • Intent is to add a relationship from these “video” recordings to a third party video database

NES (New Edit System) Overview

  • Development led by Ollie
  • NES introduces a new edit system comprised of a front end that submits to a backend editable web service
  • NES will allow bundling multiple edits together (but not unbundling, at least initially)
  • Breakout session on Sunday

Improving UX

  • The intent is not to dumb the site down, but to add improvements to the existing UX
  • Proposal: “Fix bits that stick out”
    • Locate individual editing features that behave strangely, or don’t “do the right thing” by default, and perform minimal fixes.
  • Proposal: “Multiple modes”
    • An analogy: with scanning software, you often have a “Simple” mode which lets you scan with some common settings, and “Advanced mode”, where you can specify descreening, colour curves, etc.
  • Proposal: “Better defaults and default-hidden advanced features”
    • Instead of full modes, just reorder things so simple/important stuff first and possibly hide features that many users might not need (with a preference to always show them)

Guiding new users

  • Proposal: Create a music dashboard that lists new users that need help
  • Proposal: Create multiple subscription lists
    • Having multiple lists narrows the scope of each list and makes it easier to digest

Artist/label art

  • Now that CAA has been a success, intent is to expand and also cover artist and label images
  • Proposal: Use a whitelist of CC-licensed websites and start displaying the art
    • Whitelist: WikiMedia Commons, Flickr, and more
    • For Flickr and other API-enabled websites, ModBot will add a comment with the license and where it comes from


  • Proposal: Set up a scrobbling server under the MetaBrainz umbrella
  • The initial API would be compatible
  • Over the long term the intent is to improve the API and build support for it directly into third party apps (eg. players) to increase user base

Acoustic data

  • Essentia does cool shit! The proposal is to collect data output from it and make it available to whoever wants to use it for recommendation, etc.
  • UPF can run it on the research dataset put out by the internet archive as some seed data, and it could potentially be integrated with a tool like Picard/Jaikoz, similar to how AcoustID collection works.
  • WavePlot already does similar things and might constitute a starting point for a database of such data


  • Intent is to increase the voting being performed in the database
  • Previously (~6 years ago) we had an iframe at the top of the page, this resulted in a lot of ‘no’ votes and was seen as an annoyance
  • Proposal: Remove ‘Yes’ votes
  • Proposal: Display relevant edit information to improve voting workflow
  • Proposal: Add ability to save custom searches


  • 2012 discussion summary:
    1. Multi level list of genres
      • Soundunwound solution: “main”, “quite”, “hints of”
      • 2 levels: “main genre”, “sub genre(s)”
    2. Flat list of genres
      • Fixed list to choose from
      • Free form with autocompletion
    3. Genre graph
  • Ben’s “genre entity” proposal
    • Genres are entered by users as freeform, auto-completed tags
    • After reaching a certain threshold, the tag is converted into a “genre entity”
    • Displayed genres are comprised of both the tags and genre entities
    • Converting a genre tag into a genre entity allows it to have relationships, and a genre entity would have fields for id3/itunes/(spotify?) genre mappings
    • Tags can be manually promoted to entities with a vote
    • Genre entities can be merged. The title of the merge source becomes a search hint for the merge target
    • This would allow things like “Pop-Rock” and “poprock” to be merged and typing either of these as tags would result in the same genre entity being applied to the entity.
  • No conclusion here. It might be good to do some genres meetings, because this is a feature we should have and it would be good to have a better plan/timeframe for implementing it.



  • Discussion point: whether to enable translation support on the main site
    • Proposal: Enable all languages that are on beta on main
    • Proposal: Enable just one language to start
  • Discussion held on whether to enable other languages even though all the documentation is all in English
  • Consensus reached that waiting for the all the documentation to be translated into other language(s) is not going to work
  • Consensus reached that we enable just German (most Germans speak English) and then go from there
  • Can we look into translating the wiki? Wikimedia DE has had good experience with Extension:Translate. The documentation team would also like this.

Promotion ideas

  • First impression for new users is lacking (home page needs work)
  • Developer awareness can be raised by promoting MB-aware apps such as those created as a part of Music Hack Day
  • Build a promotion-oriented community of users to coordinate promotional releases (reddit posts, social media, etc.), collaborate via a new mailing list
  • A possible Summer of Code project is to create a visually pleasing statistics page similar to VGMdb


  • Different ideas discussed:
    • DiscIDs prevent a few useful edge cases like pre-gap tracks and correct tracklists for certain VideoCDs.
    • But they’re also used a lot by rippers/taggers, so we cannot just get rid of them.
  • Decision reached that we look at our DiscID usage statistics and then revisit this topic
  • There is a follow-up in User:JonnyJD/DiscID with details.

Home page redesign ideas

  • short desc/tagline
    • "an open music encyclopedia"?
  • divide people into categories in as few words as possible.
    • general users / people who want to tag
    • artists / labels
    • devs
  • show coverart
  • show “recent activity” in an activity steam
  • very basic stats
  • highlight search bar?


  • Consensus that everyone wants series support
    • New entity should be created with
      • Title
      • Sub entities (see proposals below)
      • Relationships to labels, artists
      • Dates derived from contents
      • Ordering of sub entities is optional
  • Consensus split on what can be put into a series
    • Proposal: Just release groups
    • Proposal: Either release groups or releases, but not both at the same time
    • Proposal: One of the above AND recordings (podcasts being captured via stand alone recordings)
  • Motion carried to prototype and test the workability of a series entity that contains just release groups

Elephant IDs

  • aka adding track IDs into music files
  • Motion carried to add the MusicBrainz Track ID into a tag called "musicbrainz_releasetrackid"


  • Consensus reached that classical discussion requires a separate summit
  • Further discussion tabled


  • Development on WavePlot led by Ben
  • WavePlot is a system for making images of audio files and extracting data from then.
  • Future work will be improving integration with existing tools and adding features.

MusicBrainz Audio Player

  • Consensus reached that the optimal audio player is the MusicBrainz website itself
  • Proposal is to further develop keptsin’s MBJS and then integrate either a third party streaming service, a web based player, or a desktop player
  • Consensus reached that an optimal player also needs to be accessible/usable entirely offline.