New idea about adding artists pictures to their pages, please your input

Happy Sunday to everybody! :slight_smile:

I have this idea about letting artists pictures that load from internet archive, showing up at the right side of their artists page, the same way cover art pictures loading from cover art archive show up at the right side of the release page.

How I came to this idea: Well, I learned here that only pictures loading from Wikimedia are allowed to show up at the right side of the page, because we do not want to take the risk that we are not allowed to show these pictures. So, in my full enthusiasm, I went to the Wikimedia, created there an account and uploaded some pictures and then let them display at the right side of my artist pages :smile: but later it became :cry: In short this happened: First they accused me of copyright violation of my own pictures that everybody can see at my official websites and removed the pictures from their Server, then finally after I looked for help at my national Wikimedia service, they put pictures back, then they removed some pictures again stating they are self-promotion and when I defended myself against that accusation they blocked my account and my IP address forever.

I have done some research on Wikipedia and found out, that many artists do not have a picture at Wikimedia, not even quite well known artists like Michael Franks. Then when digging into the “history” of Wikipedia pages, I discover many times, that the artists did have a picture but that the pictures were removed. Such a pity! Here as example Michael Franks at Wikipedia and because he has no picture from Wikimedia there, also his page here at Music Brainz Michael Franks cannot have a picture of him displaying at the right of the page. Such a pity! Because he has pictures of himself at his official website.

Must one be a Rolling Stone to have a picture display at Wikimedia? :rolling_eyes:

I think it a pity, that for so many artists even for many quite well known artists, we cannot have pictures display at their pages. For visitors it can be nice and perhaps also of educational value to see a picture of the artist they are looking up. As a picture says so much more, than a text description alone!

Well, we could decide to allow pictures displaying from official websites of the artists, but what after the death of the artist? Many artist websites then probably will disappear because they are not paid for anymore.

So, I thought of the Internet Archive! Yes, the same organization that has our Cover Art Archive! :slight_smile:
The Internet Archive keeps the website of the artist in its archive, also after the death of the artist.

Let’s as an example look up Michael Franks at Internet Archive and we see a cute picture of Michael with his dog (right-click “properties” on the picture on his page to find the picture-url at Internet Archive) and so I thought we could perhaps have display this Internet Archive picture at his artist page here?
And more in general is my suggestion: allow artists pictures loading from Internet Archive to display on their pages here, just like we allow to display cover art loading from Cover Art Archive.

Please what do you think of this? The archive says itself, that it is allowed to refer to them! :smile:

“The Wayback Machine
Can I link to old pages on the Wayback Machine?
Yes! The Wayback Machine is built so that it can be used and referenced. If you find an archived page that you would like to reference on your Web page or in an article, you can copy the URL. You can even use fuzzy URL matching and date specification… but that’s a bit more advanced.”

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No, but there must exist a freely licenced picture in the first place. You can’t just take any random photograph and embed it into a web page. A dedicated artist picture archive would have exactly the same issue, so your idea doesn’t solve the problem.

You can already link to non-free pictures (or pictures of unclear licence status), but it won’t be shown in the sidebar. That’s the correct behaviour and will never change.


@chirlu aaah I understand, embedding the picture from another website on Music Brainz website is the problem. And therefore the picture must have a free license.

But what, if we are going to host the artist pictures on our own WebServer, then we do not need to embed them from another website. We could make our own dedicated artists archive that way, in a directory at the Music Brainz Server.

For deceased artists that have pictures at Wikimedia we could use pictures from Wikimedia that have no unclear licenses and upload those to our own Server, or leave them embedded.

For alive artists we could use photographs that were given to us by the artists themselves or by their official agents, for use on MusicBrainz. That could be an idea? We could write them at their individual websites, but we also can write to big labels that have many artists to ask them if they are willing to send us a photo of each of their artists, for use on MusicBrainz. Oh I know that would be a lot of work, but when we make a special project of it, to collect the photos from the artists, the work might be done in a couple of years (6 - 8 years) and that still will be ok :slight_smile:

We can form a working group of Members that are willing to collect the artist photos by writing on behalf of Music Brainz to large labels and individual artists websites. I will join such a working group :sunny: who too?

What do you think of that idea?

P.S. right now we have around 1.1 million artists listed. Does anybody know how many labels?
If we have 100 members that are each willing to add 100 photos a month to the archive, then the work will be done in about 8 years. But some members might have time to do more than 100 photos a month :slight_smile:

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Well, if they give us the pictures, there are only two possibilities:

  • They are put under a free licence. This means we could put them on Wikimedia Commons, too, and don’t need a special MusicBrainz photograph repository.
  • They are only licenced for use by MusicBrainz, and not by other entities. This we won’t accept, because MusicBrainz is all about free data that anyone can use.

Being a freely licensed picture is not enough for the picture, to be placed on the Wikimedia Server and stay there and not being deleted after a while.

That is the problem! I have tested things out, with pictures of me and my band members. The pictures do have the required licenses now, but the Wikimedia volunteers still have the tool to delete them from their Server, because the pictures have no Wiki page. And if somebody would make a Wiki page for the persons on the pictures, that Wiki page won’t last long and will be deleted, because the persons described on the page are only of local importance, while Wikipedia/Wikimedia requires at least a national importance. That info was told to me past weekend by a member of the Dutch contact point of Wikimedia.

Here at MusicBrainz we have another scope than at Wikimedia, that’s why they are not willing to “host” all our artist pictures even not if all pictures have a free license, they only want to “host” the pictures of important artists that have a Wiki page. That is what they explained to me past weekend. At MusicBrainz we have a different scope: we try to make the most complete Encyclopedia of musical artists. We accept in our database not only important artists, but we also accept local artists. At Wikimedia, they only accept musical artists that are at least of national importance.

About Wikimedia keeping licensed pictures on their Server of the artists in our database, the representative of the Dutch Wikimedia told me by email the following (I will first quote him and then will try to translate his Dutch, into English):
quote: “Dat MusicBrainz alleen afbeeldingen van Wikimedia Commons accepteert, maakt nog niet dat Wikimedia Commons, dan ook maar alle afbeeldingen accepteert die bedoeld zijn voor MusicBrainz.”
He says: From the fact that MusicBrainz only accepts pictures from Wikimedia Commons, may not be concluded, that Wikimedia Commons will have to accept all pictures that are meant for use on MusicBrainz.

Conclusion is No we could not put the pictures on Wikimedia Commons, because only if the pictures are about at least national important artists, they will be accepted by Wikimedia Commons!

So we do need a special MusicBrainz photograph repository!

The question of course is: do we want to create such a MusicBrainz photograph repository ? Personally I think that pictures will add more value to the encyclopedia, for example a visitor is looking up a certain work, goes to the performing artists pages, had forgotten the name of artists, then see their pictures and then recognizes! Also, I think that pictures make the MusicBrainz encyclopedia more complete and last but not least it makes the encyclopedia look more attractive to visitors.


I don’t think a photograph/image repository special to MusicBrainz is the path forward, but I could definitely see the use case for a general purpose libre/free-as-in-freedom artist image repository. Maybe something @KodeStar would want to be involved with? (@KodeStar is the guy behind It wouldn’t exactly fall under the current scope of (which is a bit in a legal grey area), but I think that’d be the current project that I know of that I can see take this up with the least resistance.

That’s cute. :slight_smile: The work will never be finished. There will always be new artists to track down and add photos for and there will always be artists that are so obscure that no photo will even be found for them. Just like MusicBrainz itself will always be incomplete, so would such a project.

Note that that doesn’t mean that we/you shouldn’t strive towards being as complete as possible, just that I don’t want anyone to have the illusion that actual completion is actually achievable.

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@freso already provides artist thumbs based on musicbrainz id’s, the images are 1000x1000px, we have just under 16,000 at the moment

edit ~16,000 images, not sure how many artists though as popular ones can have multiple images


The problem isn’t the providing them - the problem is providing them under a free/libre license.


Is there a reason why we could not use flickr and have a taging scheme to include the musicbrainz id’s?
Flickr supports tags and some of these tags have been designed to be machine readable.
There is a tagging scheme for animals where you can tag an animal by thair taxonomy to make it easier to find.
Encyclopedia of life

Having it hosted elsewhere gets around the dmca problem as they will process the take down and the commercial re-use problem as flickr allows the user to specify a licence and this may be one of the cc licence family or all rights reserved so you know you cannot use it.

I think all is required is to come up with a scheme to tag photo’s and to start writing tools that searches for these tags.
There are api’s to search flickr based on tags so it should be straight forward to integrate this type of thing.


This already exists somewhat, see this blog post from 2009 and the wiki page linked there:

It is a pity this didn’t get more traction, but maybe adding those ID tags is just too technical. Maybe if it would have been integrated in MB somehow (e.g. by displaying the images and making it in some way easier to add / generate the tags).


I have tagged some of them long time ago.
I think it’s THE solution to dynamically display artist photos with a userjs.
I even did not remember while reading this topic.

BTW, it’s one of the reasons to always merge entities towards the oldest MBID.


Wow, you folks came up with such wonderful ideas :smile: , especially about using Flickr!

Hmmmm, now is my question: can we trust the Flickr website to exist until eternity? To make sure that if we ever get all artists pictures and upload to Flickr they will stay forever and we do not have to migrate them to another website/Server? Flickr is a Yahoo company so I think it can be trusted to stay? But you never know?

I have one more idea to add to our ideas: hosting all the artists pictures in a new Google project!
Just like Google Art Project we could have a Google Music Artists Gallery Project? :slight_smile:

We can’t trust any site or service to exist forever. Forever is a long, long time. Humanity won’t exist forever.

As long as data is open, migration shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Flickr, however, isn’t open (enough) - we can’t just get a dump of Flickr’s data and load it into some other service when Flickr is dead or on its deathbed (or just something better comes along).

Google Art Project’s images still aren’t freely available (ie., under a free/libre license) and as such would still not be useful for what you want (ie., use images to display directly on MusicBrainz).


@Freso, after we have collected all free license pictures, freely licensed and sent to us by the labels and individual artists that we wrote to, and we then contact Google to ask if they are interested in starting a new Google Music Artists Photo Repository Project together with MusicBrainz, and suppose they are interested, in that case, because the Repository will only contain free license pictures provided by MusicBrainz, I think for such a new Google project the images will be freely available? Or am I wrong?

If Google starting a new project is not suitable for the purpose (i.e. displaying images on MusicBrainz), I think that we can best go with @jesus2099 and @dns_server and choose for Flickr for several good reasons that @jesus2099 and @dns_server mention in their posts!

@Freso, would MusicBrainz organization be interested to set up such a project, with Flickr?

If the Google Music Artists Photo Repository Project you mention would only have freely licensed photos/images, then sure, it could be used on as you envision it. However, you compared/related it with the Google Art Project, which neither is “free culture” (the images aren’t freely licensed), nor is it open data (AFAIK; ie., you “can’t just get a dump of [Google]'s data and load it into some other service when [Google] is dead or on its deathbed (or just something better comes along)”), so it seems to me that your GMAPRP would have to be fundamentally different from the GAP.

Also, and I might be wrong on this, but I don’t recall Google having a lot of history with “free culture” projects. Due to their size, they can usually just make some kind of agreement to get what open source/data/culture/* projects like MetaBrainz’s can’t (and, likely, won’t).

As community manager of MetaBrainz, this would not be my call to make. However,

  1. between our 8 current projects we’re already way undermanned and heavily dependent on volunteer developers. The MetaBrainz Foundation will not be able to devote any (wo)man power/time to any new projects, so without someone from the community stepping up to claim such a project, we’d not be able to do anything about it.
  2. Yahoo (who owns Flickr) has no history, that I am aware of, of supporting open source, open data, or free culture projects (and certainly less than Google) - I highly doubt we’d be able to sway them.

Another thing to note: this doesn’t have to be a partnership. basically does what you want (except for not being open data and free culture), and they only became a supporter of MetaBrainz a few months ago (and have been running since 2010).

Since this is about open data and free culture (and preferably on an open source backend), I’d probably approach the Wikimedia Foundation (though they’ll likely turn you down in favour of their Wikimedia Commons project which has already been discussed in this topic) or Internet Archive. Or perhaps see if any of the other Creative Commons platforms would be interested in such a project. (Of course, I’d/we’d recommend using MBIDs as identifiers, like does, but… :slight_smile:)


Hi @Freso :slight_smile: thank you for the well explained options that you give! And Yes I indeed agree (and also meant to say) that the GMAPRP must be completely different from the existing Google projects! I only mentioned the existing projects as an example to explain that Google might be interested in such a project.

I myself need some time, over the weekend, to think about what kind of project could be the best way to follow, and I think that other members might need some time too, to think about what they think the best way to set up such a project. Anyway, [quote=“Freso, post:15, topic:172477”]
without someone from the community stepping up to claim such a project, we’d not be able to do anything about it.

It would be no problem for me to stand up participating to claim such a project and help setting it up, and I hope that there are other members too, willing to stand up participating and claim and help setting up such a project ? To show up pictures of all artists on their artists pages, not only show up pictures of the (inter)national popular artists, as it is now. Because now we are dependent on Wikimedia Commons that only wants to host pictures of important artists.

We could together choose a way to go, whom to get interested: Google perhaps, Yahoo/Flickr perhaps, perhaps, Internet Archive perhaps, and what kind of way to go: partnership, no partnership. But always keeping in mind, that the data must become open and the pictures under free license.

Members that are interested in this topic, please think about the best way to set up this project, so we can start music brainz storming :slight_smile: together, what would be the best way!

If you are interested in setting up this project, please give your ideas coming days, about how to realize the project!

One perhaps interesting addition to brainz storming about setting up a Music Artists Repository:

We could add a little snippet of each released track to the page of the track. A 30 seconds snippet won’t violate copyrights I think (but of course I could be wrong) and then visitors not only can see the performing artist of the track that they are looking for, but also hear that particular artist’s way of performing that particular track/song/instrumental! This is, as far as I know (could be wrong) not realized (yet) in Acoustic Brainz (has I think another scope?) but could be reached in this project!

I do not think of uploading snippets of tracks, but uploading the whole tracks (with Picard) and then let a robot for example Google Bot choose a snippet of the track to display for the visitor. That way, we have the whole tracks in the archive and in far future times when they are free of copyrights, we can give them free to people to listen to.

Hmmmm, just brainz storming :slight_smile:

When I encountered lots of difficulties in disambiguating some recordings, I link to some YouTube streaming or something like that, so that future editors can also know which recording to link to their tracks…
But attaching a long lasting snippet would absolutely rock.
I really don’t know if it’s allowed, though.

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AcousticBrainz uses a simple YouTube query (source). So AcousticBrainz will provide samples for things that exist in YouTube. There’s nothing stopping MusicBrainz or other sites from adopting a similar approach.

CritiqueBrainz does something similar, just utilising mbspotify to link up MusicBrainz albums with Spotify ones (source). Again, this could easily be used anywhere else.

For the record, this is the bulk of what the Internet Archive does. Ie., they store a bunch of data (books, music, website snapshots, software, …) so they can release it to the general public when it’s free of copyright restraints.

MetaBrainz will not be hosting any potentially copyrighted data, so any service that depends on storing this cannot live on MetaBrainz owned servers.

Yep @jesus2099 that is my opinion too, a long lasting snippet would absolutely rock for all the visitors now, and in future: :man: :woman: :boy: :girl: :older_man: :older_woman:

On Youtube, music videos are often removed, so they won’t last long and also not all music can be found on Youtube, and on Spotify I don’t know how long they store music, but what I do know is, that I cannot hear songs on Spotify unless I sign up and pay them money each month, but I do not know if other people in other countries perhaps can hear Spotify for free? Also, not all music can be found on Spotify. The same for Sound Cloud.

Then we cannot upload the whole songs, because they are copyrighted.
And even uploading snippets is very problematic, I just found out reading this article

@Freso I went to investigate the Internet Archive website and I think that is the solution :slight_smile:

But I do not understand how it works there with the licenses: I found a complete song by Michael Buble this one and it was uploaded by somebody (not by the artist himself) and now everybody can hear it, so we could let it display at MusicBrainz pages? I do not understand how it can be without license?

Does anybody know how it works, with the licenses, when uploading songs to Internet Archive?

If for audio files it will work hosting at Internet Archive, then why not also let them host the artists pictures, then everything will be in one hand :slight_smile: as they do already host the cover art.

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