The Brainz are Back in Town

Thursday, 24 November 2011
by Adrian Woodhead
filed under Announcements and Stuff Other People Made
Comments: 18

Many moons ago Last.fm set up a collaboration with MusicBrainz, the open-source music metadata database and community. MusicBrainz use special keys known as MusicBrainz Identifiers (MBIDs) to uniquely identify artists, labels, songs and many other music-related entities. One of the main ideas behind them is that anyone can use these keys to identify and cross-reference musical entities, even if they come from different sources.

For example, an album review site could publish the MBID for an album being reviewed and someone could take this MBID and look up the album on MusicBrainz (or some other site supporting MBID lookups) to find out more information about it.

That was then

The plan at the time was to regularly synchronise MBIDs with the artists, albums and tracks in Last.fm’s catalogue. The MBIDs (or should those be MBIDz?) could then be used to query for these entities using our API, or to link across different services using the MusicBrainz ids as an external mashup key. Last.fm API calls also return MusicBrainz ids where applicable (see artist.getInfo for an example).

This continued successfully for a while until a few shake ups and changes over here resulted in us temporarily dropping the ball on this one and the regular updates stopped (we did however keep the historical data).

MusicBrainz members hanging out in Last.fm’s ball pit back in the day (photo by Mayhem).

This is now

The good news is that we reconnected with MusicBrainz while we were visiting San Francisco for this year’s Hadoop Summit and are recommitting ourselves to being good citizens of the MusicBrainz community.

Our first step is to once again synchronise Last.fm artists, albums and tracks with their relatives over at MusicBrainz using their Live Data Feed which means we’ll be updating these once an hour. We’ve already started doing this and have more information on the technical details over in our development discussion forum.

To the future and beyond

Once we are in synch again we will start looking at other ways we can more actively work together with MusicBrainz and also with others like The Guardian and the BBC who use MusicBrainz Identifiers too. We also hope to leverage MusicBrainz’s experience with handling artist and album disambiguation to improve how we model music on Last.fm. We currently have the pleasure of hosting one of their developers (OCharles) at our London offices a couple of days a week to work on these and other related issues.

So, if you have any questions, comments or requests for features please ask them over on the forum, catch you there.

Comments

  1. Jevon
    24 November, 11:55

    :D Yay! <3 Musicbrainz.

    Jevon – 24 November, 11:55
  2. Tecfan
    24 November, 12:22

    :D Yay! <3 Musicbrainz

    Tecfan – 24 November, 12:22
  3. muesli
    24 November, 12:36

    Oh the good old ball pit, you were smelly and potentially life-threatening, yet so much fun :-D

    muesli – 24 November, 12:36
  4. Stefan
    24 November, 12:52

    :D Yay! <3 Ball Pit

    Stefan – 24 November, 12:52
  5. Igor
    24 November, 13:42

    Hurray for Musicbrainz!! I love their service! Now if only everyone would use it to get rid of incorrect tags!

    Igor – 24 November, 13:42
  6. mll
    24 November, 14:10

    Brainz in last.fm, at last ! Hope it goes till the end this time.

    mll – 24 November, 14:10
  7. snyde1
    24 November, 17:38

    I have to say that I am impressed! Thank you.

    It is good to hear that this will be leveraged for artist disambiguation.

    snyde1 – 24 November, 17:38
  8. Mercuryweb
    24 November, 17:56

    Ball pits are nice :)

    Mercuryweb – 24 November, 17:56
  9. lidel
    24 November, 19:10

    Promoting MBIDs is a great news! :-)

    lidel – 24 November, 19:10
  10. CatCat
    24 November, 22:39

    :D Yay! <3 Musicbrainz.

    CatCat – 24 November, 22:39
  11. DilatedTime
    25 November, 18:34

    Finally. Took your sweet time about it. But on a lighter note: “Yay! :D”

    DilatedTime – 25 November, 18:34
  12. MXMLLN
    26 November, 00:13

    Just created a MusicBrainz account, hopefully it makes me smarter: http://musicbrainz.org/user/MXMLLN

    MXMLLN – 26 November, 00:13
  13. nickl
    30 November, 12:06

    hooray for artist disambiguation… hope it makes it into the API too!

    nickl – 30 November, 12:06
  14. pabouk
    3 December, 09:24

    Great news!

    @MXMLLN: Yes, I think after some contributing it will make you smarter :)

    pabouk – 3 December, 09:24
  15. Chris
    4 December, 05:32

    Does this mean that last.fm will finally have a more complete listing of artist’s releases? I’m shocked at how many albums and eps last.fm has missing from artists’ pages and even more confused by how many releases are duplicated. last.fm would be so much better if you could look at an artist’s album page and be able to see all of their releases and the popularity of each.

    Chris – 4 December, 05:32
  16. Mass Dosage
    6 December, 11:42

    @Chris – for now we rely on album listings sent to us by the labels that provide us content, and the users of our Music Manager. So the gaps come about from those that don’t send us anything. The duplicates come about as lots of the labels send us duplicates themselves. In the future we hope to increase our album listing coverage by sourcing them from MusicBrainz too.

    Mass Dosage – 6 December, 11:42
  17. dankine
    6 December, 20:34

    does the fact they are looking at moving to acoustid’s make much difference to lfm?

    dankine – 6 December, 20:34
  18. Gamertag Generator
    13 December, 17:43

    Never too old for a ball bit! :D

    Gamertag Generator – 13 December, 17:43

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