MusicBrainz is a user-maintained community music metadatabase. Music metadata is information such as the artist name, the album title, and the list of tracks that appear on an album. MusicBrainz collects this information about music and makes it available to the public so that music players can retrieve information about the music that is playing. For instance, most audio CDs do not contain the name of the artist, album, or a listing of the tracks. A music player can use the digital characteristics of an audio CD to look up the correct metadata and show it to the user during playback.
MusicBrainz also takes this concept one step further in applying it to digital audio files like MP3 files and Ogg Vorbis files. The metadata contained in these files is often incorrect or missing altogether. If this data is not present or correct, it makes it difficult for users to find the music they wish to play. Many MP3 lovers have a huge collection of MP3 files but often have a hard time finding the music to which they want to listen. The MusicBrainz solutions for this are the WindowsTagger, iEatBrainz, and the PicardTagger--Windows, MacOS X, and Python applications that use AcousticFingerprints (TRMs) to semi-automatically identify tracks in your music collection and then write consistent and accurate metadata to your music files.
The MusicBrainz web site provides a catalog of music metadata; MusicBrainz only provides the data about the music and not the music itself. MusicBrainz does not condone copyright infringement and thus cannot help you find the best place to illegally download copyrighted works.
MusicBrainz users can browse and search this catalog to examine what music different artists have published and how those artists relate to each other to discover new music. The music metadata and its ability to uniquely identify music will also enable non-ambiguous communication about music, and will allow the Internet community to discover new music without any of the bias introduced by marketing departments of the recording industry.
Another important aspect of the web site is the creation and maintenance of the data. All of the data in MusicBrainz is user contributed and user maintained. This means that if you spot a mistake in the database, you should take the initiative to create yourself a MusicBrainz account (for free, of course!) and edit the data. MusicBrainz will never share your personal information with anyone and we will not spam you with anything. We believe strongly in the privacy of our users and since they are our lifeblood we would be stupid to disrespect our contributors.
Please contribute your knowledge about music and MusicBrainz will share your knowledge with others, and in time MusicBrainz can become the most powerful and comprehensive music service in existence. In return for your hard work, MusicBrainz makes the data that users have contributed available for download by the public. Some portions of the data are placed into the Public Domain and some portions are covered by a CreativeCommons license. Please take a look at our server/data product page.
This introduction serves as the most basic crash course on what MusicBrainz does. The MusicBrainz project has many goals for the future with the hopes of changing how people enjoy their music collections. The detailed current status, the plans for the future, our views on working with commercial companies and our plans for creating a non-profit corporation are covered in great detail in our MusicBrainz Non-Profit White Paper.
With this short introduction, we leave you to explore MusicBrainz. Welcome, and enjoy your visit!