MusicBrainz is a user-maintained community music metadatabase. Music metadata is information such as the artist name, the release title, and the list of tracks that appear on a release. MusicBrainz collects this information about recordings and makes it available to the public. The web site is the interface which allows 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 to available for download to the public. Some portions of the data are placed into the Public Domain and some portions are covered by a Creative Commons license. Please take a look at our Server/Database product pages.
The MusicBrainz products: MusicBrainz takes the catalog service one step further and provides products which build on it. Our products can be used to apply the data to digital audio files like MP3, Ogg Vorbis (and for the Picard Tagger, a multitude of other digital audio formats as well). The metadata contained in these files is often incorrect or missing altogether. If this data is not present or incorrect, even more since many music lovers have a huge collection of digital audio files, it is very hard to find the music one wants to listen to. The MusicBrainz solutions for this are tagging applications for almost every platform (Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, etc.) that use Acoustic Fingerprints (PUIDs) to semi-automatically identify tracks in your music collection and then write consistent and accurate metadata to your digital audio files. MusicBrainz provides a webservice which can be used to query musicbrainz data from any application which is able to parse XML. Another option is to setup an own copy of the MusicBrainz server, and import the latest database dump. From there on, you can subscribe to the database replication service (free for non-commerical use!) which allows your copy of the database to stay up-to-date with the changes being made to the main database. (see the products page for more details)
MusicBrainz provides data about recordings, but not the media files itself: The MusicBrainz service only provides the data about music (a catalog of music metadata) but not the music itself. MusicBrainz does not condone copyright infringement and will never help you find a place to illegally download copyrighted works.
How the MusicBrainz catalog can be used: MusicBrainz users can browse and search our 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 usage scenario is the lookup of information by media players: Since most audio CDs do not contain the metadata about the recording on the physical media, but they can use the digital characteristics of the CD (i.e. number of tracks, the length of the tracks) to look up the metadata and use this information to enhance the listening experience.
Where to go from here: 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!