BBC Teams Editing MusicBrainz

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Setting the stage

On June 19 2007, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) became a customer of the MetaBrainz Foundation by licensing the MusicBrainz Live Data Feed. In the long run, the BBC may be using the data from the live data feed to provide its audience with a broader context about the music played on the various radio networks operated by the BBC. The first public facing MusicBrainz-enabled project at the BBC is the new discographies and track lists project which is available to the public at http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/. This project provides users of the BBC Music website with more details about the artists and albums featured by the site. The BBC also plans to use the track listings and the Advanced Relationships from MusicBrainz to provide listeners with context such as fan sites and Wikipedia pages as well as how artists and their releases relate to the world of music.

Use of MusicBrainz data offers the BBC the potential to underpin its broadcasts with a data-driven, comprehensive online offering, enabling journeys of music discovery within, into and out of the BBC's music websites. It also potentially offers MusicBrainz access to the expertise of specialist programme makers across the BBC and specialist audiences across the UK.

Beyond being a customer, a number of BBC staffers from its online music teams will start participating in the MusicBrainz community in order to share their knowledge of music with the rest of the world in yet another way. The BBC enjoys a unique view into the world of music (especially British music) and to have the BBC team participate gives MusicBrainz a significant slice of music knowledge to which it didn't have access to previously. Some pieces of music that get played on the BBC radio networks may have never been publicly performed and the information for that music may never have made its way into MusicBrainz. With the BBC ultimately aiming to use the MusicBrainz data across all of its networks, it will bring music information to MusicBrainz so that the BBC can work better than before.

Differing approaches and how to survive them

The BBC is a very different organisation from MusicBrainz – a public service broadcaster with thousands of employees in the UK and around the globe. MetaBrainz is a tiny non-profit that operates the bottom up MusicBrainz project that enjoys thousands of supporters around the globe.

However, the BBC recognises that the Musicbrainz community is MusicBrainz's most important asset, and is determined to respect the spirit of that community when music experts within the organisation begin to participate in MusicBrainz. When creating content for the database, members of BBC staff will register like any other contributor, but make themselves known by creating an account that fits this pattern: bbc_<nickname>. We would kindly ask only BBC members to actually follow this convention. The BBC team members who will be participating in MusicBrainz in the near future are:

[more to follow…]

BBC currently uses MusicBrainz for

  • Discographies and track lists on the BBC music site at http://www.bbc.co.uk/music: MusicBrainz data will supplement the BBC's existing artist profiles and album reviews by adding a discography to each artist profile and a track list to each review page, where the data is available
  • Internal use to improve robustness of the BBC's music database
  • Adding Wikipedia biographies to artist profiles, e.g. Tom Waits. This means that adding a relationship between an artist and a Wikipedia entry will automatically generate a richer page on the BBC website.

BBC will give to MusicBrainz

  • A monthly license fee, which will allow us to hire engineers for more MusicBrainz features and managing the existing infrastructure.
  • The expertise of its online music teams

BBC Music Bot

The bbc_music_bot has been used to submit genres tags, entered into internal BBC systems, to MusicBrainz artists and releases. The 13 genres, as used by /music, /programmes and /iplayer are: