MusicBrainz Discovery (I)

Earlier this evening I gave a brief introduction (slides PDF) to MusicBrainz at SDForum’s Emerging Technology SIG meeting on music metadata in the stead of MusicBrainz founder and leader Rob Kaye, who couldn’t make it up to Palo Alto. (I’m fairly familiar with MusicBrainz, having worked with Rob at Bitzi and getting updates when we cross paths in this small world.)

If I could pick a theme for the meeting (which included two other very interesting speakers — Stephen Bronstein of the Independent Online Distribution Alliance and David Marks of Loomia), and for recent months in general, it would be that in case you haven’t noticed, it’s clearly now a discovery problem, not a delivery problem.

SIG leader William Grosso led off with some quotes from the much-discussed Wired magazine article The Long Tail, which seems to have captured this zeitgeist. (Grosso also had a novel to me presentation technique — a slideshow of potentially relevant slides plays while he speaks, and if a slide happens to be relevant to the current sentence, he uses the slide to augment the point. Is there a name for this?)

Obviously there was tremendous interest in Creative Commons in this context, and several people seemed to be happy to learn of CC’s search engine and the great services and products offered by the Internet Archive (free hosting for CC-licensed audio and video, built in format conversion), Magnatune (all CC-licensed music label) and more.

Unfortunately in the eleven years I’ve been in the SF bay area I only definitively recall attending two previous SDForum events — a 1994 talk by Atari Jaguar developers in San Jose and in 2001 an evening with Phil Zimmermann in San Francisco (I suspect others who were there would deem the “an evening with” cliche appropriate in this case). This evening’s meeting was a total geekfest. I hung around for well over an hour commiserating on all manner of software development topics (I think that’s what “SD” stands for) with a number of hardcore geeks (no whatever-Dilbert’s-boss’s-name-is there) while two guys were lauging their asses off whiteboarding issues with Unicode encoding (as far as I could tell). I’ll have to go back.

More about what I’ve learned about MusicBrainz over the years and in preparing for the evening in a future post.

Update: part 2

One Response

  1. […] MusicBrainz Discovery (I) and MusicBrainz Discovery (II) claims that “it’s about discovery now” (I probably meant in contrast to to production of new, possibly free, works), but this never happened: music discovery has changed little, and imagined changes have had no appreciable impact on discovery of free works. The sweet spot for metadata is very, very small, and it is not clear MusicBrainz will ever be in it; that sweet spot includes many socio-economic factors, and both industry and the worldwide copyright beuracracy and hangers on, when they occassional have delusions about metadata solutions, play in their own sandboxes. […]

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