Displaying images of artists routinely: a future project?

I understand that there are major legal and logistical impediments to the routine display of photographs of artists.
I think at some point in the future MB will need to find a way to get these images happening.
Pages of text sans photographs of artists seem likely to be judged as unattractive by the market.

Another major benefit of having graphics of label imprints and photographs of artists routinely displayed is that it would reduce creation of duplicate entries and cases of misattribution by editors.
For example, with images it would be less likely that a historical recording of Trinity River Blues would be misattributed to
Aaron Walker
and more likely that it would be attributed correctly to
Aaron “T-Bone” Walker

See a previous thread on this topic

You can use wikipedia / wikidata / wikimedia commons as a source of images.
It is on my plans for my wikidata plugin to download images from there.
Finding the url is simple but I should probably learn qt and create a preference page to enable this feature before I implement it.

There are other options as discussed in the above thread such as searching flickr for musicbrainz artist id tags and using that but I am not sure if there is any software that currently does that.

1 Like

That sounds a good start for popular artist photographs.

From that thread though,

, it appears that Wikimedia’s criteria around “notability” may prevent many MB artists from having photographs on Wikimedia.
(I’m assuming here that musicwoman was banned by a wiki admin for some offense based on actual guidelines.)

I like the idea of letting others figure out where the photos come from.
But, currently, it rules out anyone that does not have a WD page. WD is like top 1% of WP, which is the top 1% of the world. WP images would include more people, but most people would still be excluded because WP does not cover “lesser” artists - which isn’t limited to meaning local artists. It could be older artists, or individual members of bands who have not done enough work outside of the band to be notable enough for their own page.

As to WP policies - I came from Wikipedia after having grown tired of the free form writing.
WP does not allow you to self-promote. But it is not just promoting yourself, it is anything that you have personal involvement with. For example, I could not add the birth name to my ex/late girlfriend’s page. And Rob Mounsey could not correct the entry for Brett Eldredge’s Glow. AllMusic had prematurely and erroneously inserted a credits list from the wrong album. All Rob wanted to do was correct the WP page, but he was reverted simply for being himself (and, of course, WP’s insistence on using AllMusic as their main source). The problem was fixed a few weeks later when AllMusic corrected itself. But how long did the wrong information appear (and get repeated by others) on the “goto” source for information for google and the general public.

But, back to photos. On WP, it really is an issue of contention for some. Free photos vs copyrighted photos. Face shots vs body shots. Fan photos or screen shots vs artist images. Current photos vs old photos - because we all want to know what an 80 year old Johhny Carl looks like today instead of what he looked like when he was putting out albums as a teenager. Pictures that include other people. Pictures of a solo artist from when they were in a band.
It really is a pain.

I am open to finding ways for getting “lesser” artist images included. But it does become a hassle - particularly if the user-base grows in size.

I can see that it will be a hassle.
Though I now am thinking that it is the minor artists whose photos would be the most valuable.
I’ve got my walls covered in Michael Jackson posters. But can I find a single image of Donald Walker who performed “Holding My Thoughts in My Heart - Final Fantasy VII” on the “Tribute to Nobuo Uematsu (2007 - 2008)” album? No way.

Actually, it’s the other way around - a Wikidata page should exist for pretty much every artist in every language’s Wikipedia, which is much wider than (at least) the English Wikipedia :slight_smile: (sometimes, for smaller Wikipedias, the page is missing, but you can always add it).

There was, at some point, the idea of having a collaboration with the Internet Archive about this too, like for cover art. Problem is, we’d specifically want only free-use images, and with Wikidata / Commons you do get the copyright issues taken care of externally. We just don’t have the ability or manpower to police everyone’s image submissions. While this is ok for the CAA (because cover art isn’t generally controversial, so just accepting takedown notices in the rare occasions were they happen is easy), it’s much more problematic for artist images.


Well, then things have changed since the last time I cared about WD (I ignored that long ago). Because not everyone had a WD page. It was primarily the people who had multiple instances - like having articles in foreign language sites, or the mega stars that have artist and album pages and separate articles for awards and discographies. That’s why I said that WD was the top 1% of WP.
But, either way, Wikipedia only represents the top 1% of musicians. Local Joe with 20 albums on MB is not on WP.

Would there be a way to use a Social Media photo the same way we do Wikidata?
Of course, I would limit it to official/verified pages. Facebook has rules against certain images. If we linked to the main image, we know it won’t be porn and we know that it was placed there by the artist themselves.


The main issues with that are we don’t know if the artist is ok with us using the image in such a way (unless we explicitly ask each artist), and I doubt Facebook or whatever would be very happy to have us embed their hosted photos in this way.


Facebook is trying to get into the music business.
I am sure a “partnership” with a music database would not be out of the question.


Is this something that the metabrainz foundation can speak to some of these companies on our behalf?

Profile images for Twitter, soundcloud, snap chat etc would be a useful source of images if we could get formal permission from the companies.


Does anyone here have accurate knowledge (or URL) of Wikidata policy on notability for whose photograph can (and cannot) be on Wikidata?

Also, anyone have the specific process for getting a photograph of a MB artist onto Wikidata?

The closest I can give you is their general notability guidelines.

The image needs to be free use and be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, and then linked from the artist’s wikidata page with the Image property, IIRC.

1 Like

Would a photo of a non-celebrity artist meet the guidelines for Wikidata?

1. It contains at least one valid sitelink to a page on Wikipedia, Wikivoyage, Wikisource, Wikiquote, Wikinews, Wikibooks, Wikidata, Wikispecies, Wikiversity, or Wikimedia Commons. …
2. It refers to an instance of a clearly identifiable conceptual or material entity. The entity must be notable, in the sense that it can be described using serious and publicly available references. If there is no item about you yet, you are probably not notable.
3. It fulfills some structural need, for example: it is needed to make statements made in other items more useful.

1. Looks hopeful but I read of editor:musicwoman being told she didn’t meet Wikimedia guidelines for inclusion - no matter Wikidata:Notability.

2. This seems far far too narrow for our purpose - just the idea that all notable people have items about them seems … well, how can I put it nicely? … “inwardly focused and unaware of the non-global range of WXXX items”?

3. seems OK but I suspect other items will be interpreted by WD admins to mean “other WikiXXX items”.

Will start off at WikiMedia chat and see what develops from ,"<Gerry_> Hi, looking for info about uploading photos of non-celebrity musicians." :grin:

I wonder if having a MusicBrainz page counts. How about a mention on an album cover: “John Doe plays marimba on track 3.”

1 Like

For (edit:) WikiMedia Commons it looks like it would - if we can get the image onto MB.
“The emphasis here is on realistic utility, either for one of the Wikimedia projects or for some other educational use.”
(“educational” is to be understood according to its broad meaning of “providing knowledge; instructional or informative”.)

The problem is WikiData.
Bullet 4: "In addition, an item with only a sitelink to a category page in Wikimedia Commons is not allowed on main article items.

A way forward would be to have MusicBrainz explicitly listed in 3.
Something like, " It fulfills some structural need, for example: it is needed to make statements made in other items more useful or is needed in MusicBrainz."

Another possibility would be to link directly to the (edit:) WikiMedia Commons photograph without going through WikiData.
Is this viable?

The WikiMedia/WikiData discussion ended somewhere around:

Questioning a MB artist page as evidence of notability on that basis I can understand - though I argue that as the global encyclopedia of recorded music, MusicBrainz, holds those standards then they become, de facto, the standards for notability of recorded music artists.

thanks sjoerddebruin and youuha for your time and expertise. Things are much clearer. Goodnight.

Could this be changed to “It is on my plans for my (edit:) WikiMedia Commons plugin to download images from there”?

All of our artists appear able to have their photo on wikimedia - if the photograph is being used on MB.
Many of our artists might have trouble getting a valid Wikidata page.

The discussion on Wikimedia Commons (note that “Wikimedia” is their “umbrella”, similar to our MetaBrainz) currently suggests that as long as an artist has an identifier in a non-user edited system (e.g., VIAF or ISNI), then they’re notable enough for inclusion in Wikidata, which would also make them notable enough to have freely licensed images stored in WM Commons:


Whoops - thanks for that correction.

WikiM Commons do have a prohibition against “self promotion” - the suggestion that MB artists upload their own photos appears to be problematic in that regard. This was one criteria that MB editor: musicwoman reported being cited as an explanation for deletion of artist images.
"Examples of files that are not realistically useful for an educational purpose:
Advertising or self-promotion."
“Advertising/promotional material does not advance Commons’ aims.”

Do we know if being a MusicBrainz artists is sufficient for eligibility for VIAF or ISNI?

edit: This interview (the ISBN distributor) suggests that notability is a requirement for getting an ISNI.
“ISNIs can be assigned to researchers, writers, artists, visual arts creators, performers, producers, publishers, aggregators, and other notable individuals who have been written about, filmed, or recorded.”

The other avenue appears to be that actual use in a educational context (providing a image of the artist in MusicBrainz) may meet the requirements laid out in WM Commons Scope

Scope part 1: Files
Uploaded files are within scope only if they comply with all of the following conditions. Every file:
_ Must be a media file._
_ Must be of an allowable free file format._
_ Must be freely licensed or public domain._
_ Must be realistically useful for an educational purpose._
_ Must not contain only excluded educational content._

Though guidelines aren’t practice as evidenced by jmabel ! “Probably. Our notability threshold for music is definitely lower that Wikipedia’s, but it’s above zero. Can you give some examples?”, when there seems to be nil “notability” in WM Commons Scope.

I wonder if Partnership discussions could result in WM Commons imposing additional, MusicBrainz specific criteria - say, artist has to provide MBartistID AND Bandcamp/iTunes/CDBaby/other commercial distribution link - that if met keep the MB artist photograph retained by WM Commons?
That way MB remains inclusive, WMCommons remains exclusive of non-commercial self-promotion, and commercial performing artists can easily have a photo on their MB page.
(But what about sound engineers, liner notes writers, Places, composers, song-writers, …? )