How To Use Music Brainz

MusicBrainz

The web pages for all BBC music radio shows include tracklistings for each episode. Each song has a link to the corresponding Artist Page on the BBC Music website. And, crucially, the information on all those Artist Pages is taken from MusicBrainz – the world’s largest public domain music database.

The important news for independent artists is that if you don’t already have an artist profile on MusicBrainz, next time you’re played on BBC radio the tracklisting will either point at an empty Artist Page or – worse still – may not point at anything at all.

The good news is that MusicBrainz (a collaborative public domain project like Wikipedia) allows you to create and maintain your own artist profile on its database.

At first sight, the MusicBrainz website looks a bit daunting, but don’t panic! We’ve broken the whole resgistration process down for you into 10 easy-to-follow steps.

1. Go to http://musicbrainz.org

2. One the front page click ‘Create Account

Create Account in MusicBrainz

3. Enter a username, password, and email address when prompted, and click ‘Register account’

4. You’ll get a confirmation message on screen. You’ll also receive an email asking you to verify your email address: when you click the link, this message will appear in your browser.

NOTE: Whenever you are logged in, your username will appear at the right hand end of the yellow menu bar at the top of the page:

Your MusicBrainz user name appears on the yellow menu bar

5. Clicking your username brings up a screen something like this:

6. IMPORTANT: this is your profile as a registered MusicBrainz user. As a registered user you can now create your profile as a band or artist. To do this, hover your cursor over ‘Editing’ on the yellow menu bar, and choose ‘Add Artist’.

7. You can now enter information about yourself as an artist or band…

Enter your artist information on MusicBrainz

NOTE: the ‘Edit note’ section (above) is just for the information of other Musicbrainz users, and doesn’t appear on your public profile.

8. Click the ‘Enter edit’ button.

A summary of your new Artist information is now listed on the right hand side (see screenshot below), with a list of editing options you can explore later. The most important thing at this point is to add links to your own artist pages on YouTube, Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud etc.

9. To do this, click on Relate to URL which produces the page below. This has a drop-down menu labelled ‘Type“. For a Facebook bandpage choose “has a social networking page at”. For Twitter choose “has a microblog at”. For Bandcamp, choose “music can be purchased for download at”. YouTube and Soundcloud have their own menu options:

Fill in the URL field as required…

Again put an explanation for other Musicbrainz users in the Edit Note field, and click on the “Enter edit” button. The web links you have entered will now appear in your Artist Page on the BBC Music website. And as soon as your music’s played on BBC national Radio, the show’s tracklisting will link to that page. Good eh?

10. Once you HAVE created your Musicbrainz profile and been given airplay on a national BBC station, you can then supply BBC Music with a photo for your BBC Artist page. This should be a head shot or close-up photo of the artist – not artwork or logos etc – in landscape format at least 1920 pixels wide x 1080 pixels high, although larger images are welcome.

Email your photo to: musicfeedback@bbc.co.uk and confirm in writing that you 1) hold the rights to the picture you are sending, and 2) grant the BBC permission to to use it on their websites without an on-screen credit. But for technical reasons, do please wait until you have had national airplay first, before sending the photo.

BBC Music website page on Tom Robinson Band

Based on an invaluable guide originally written by Graham Albans in 2009 while working as an intern with BBC Introducing: Fresh On The Net at 6 Music. A former stalwart at Leeds Student Radio and producer at BBC Introducing In West Yorkshire, he graduated in 2011 and moved to London. His Twitter feed @GrahamAlbans describes him as “a Radio ninja at BBC Radio 2. I work on The Chris Evans Breakfast Show. Husband and a fan of porridge.” Also see: Graham’s excellent advice on How Not To Write A CV.

Tom Robinson

London-based broadcaster & songwriter, born 1950. His best known songs are 2-4-6-8 Motorway, Glad To Be Gay and War Baby; he has also co-written songs with Peter Gabriel, Elton John, Dan Hartman and Manu Katché. Read More...

3 Comments

  1. Dear Tom
    thanks for this interesting post, I heard about Music Brainz in the past but I wasn’t aware about its features and possibilities. It’s nice to know that it’s under public domain (other parts under Creative Commons License). I just wanted to make a comment, a while ago I discovered a platform for streaming and downloading “open source” music: Jamendo http://www.jamendo.com/en/ it seems to be quite big in France but not in the UK. Music can be downloaded for free (legally) and artists license their work under Creative Commons. Don’t know if Jamendo synchronises metadata with Music Brainz, they probably do. I think Jamendo is a very powerful platform for independent artists to distribute free music having their work protected under a license.

  2. Nicole

    How do I upload my picture on musicbrainz?

  3. Gersprungled

    Nicole
    In response to your question of almost three years ago.

    That is the question many artists want to have answered.

    I think the BBC control their artist page pictures but having been asked (unsolicited) to send one in recently….they put it up…and after three weeks it had vanished and the generic blank photo has gone too.
    One step forward. Two steps back!

    Appreciated this article on MusicBrainz which is not simple to use.

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