[Clarification] How does Last.fm use MusicBrainz?

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Hello, I am aware that Last.fm is using the MusicBrainz database for music metadata. However, I was unable to find any kind of explanation to how MusicBrainz is used with Last.fm or how a user could understand how to make improvements to Last.fm via MusicBrainz. Could anyone clarify how Last.fm uses MusicBrainz? Thanks!
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jwf

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Posted 2 years ago

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gw666

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According to other answers in this forum, every Friday the accepted edits from musicbrainz are imported into the proprietary last.fm catalog. So it is simple, fix stuff in musicbrainz and wait.
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He's dead, Jim!

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Well, in the new version Last.fm also imports from iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and Discogs and try to merge them together so if MusicBrainz is correct and the others are not it may not help.
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Jon, Community & Customer Services

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Official Response
Musicbrainz is one of several affiliates we use for catalogue generation, the others are Amazon, iTunes, 7Digital, Spotify, and Discogs.  

About twice once a week we import catalogue data from all of those websites, normalise it, and run it through a series of clustering algorithms to generate what we think are the "correct" catalogue pages and album tracklists on the website.  We then populate those pages with additional information such as running time and date of release.  It's not without issues which we are trying to address.
  • If data is missing, that usually means that the release in question doesn't currently appear in any of those catalogues -- adding it to musicbrainz (and/or discogs), should result in the release being imported the following week.  
  • If the catalogue data is wrong, that usually suggests that the clustering algorithm picked the wrong listing in this case -- you can usually check by searching for the release in the above catalogues to see which one it went for.  There are quite complicated reasons why the system can pick what seems like an obviously wrong result (you'd need to ask Ben, Sachin, or Mark for a more technical explanation), but it's something we're working on improving.  Off the top of my head, an obvious example are k-pop artists that have their track listings in English rather than the original hangul spelling because we're mostly using US catalogues which all list the translated / international spelling. In any case, the best thing to do is use the "Is this correct? Yes or No" box on every page (both the item that's wrong and the page you think is correct if it exists) to flag these errors.
  • Other issues such as capitalisation errors and corrections issues (e.g. merging duplicate artists pages and separating distinct artists, etc), which are considered separate problems from catalogue generation and will be addressed in due course as well.
Since you can contribute to both Musicbrainz and Discogs, I'd say the probably the best way to maximise the chance of your changes going through is to ensure that both MBz and Discogs are consistent and agree with each other.   

The other thing we use Musicbrainz for, as of a few weeks ago, are the artist Fact boxes you see when you open an artist biography, and for getting the artist's official twitter handle when sharing your Last.week.

edit: Corrected outdated info as people are still referencing this post.
(Edited)
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jwf

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This is very detailed and insightful! Thanks so much for all of this information, it's helpful to know. :)
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Elliot Robinson

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Hi Jon,

You say above that the catalogue syncs about twice a week but I have recently added a release and corrections to MusicBrainz, yet it hasn't appeared as an official listing on Last FM. I added it over two weeks ago, which is also when it was officially available to purchase on iTunes.

Is the database not currently syncing with sources or is this a glitch that needs looking into? If it's useful, the album concerned is this one.

Look forward to a response soon.
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Mika Perttula

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When it comes to classical music, you have to choose ”your way” , because there is no consensus between your source sites. For example artists are sometimes composers (musicbrainz way) or all artists written in the cover of release (discogs). So, which way you choose? I see , that you should give lastfm users possibility todo renaming, which means private db to certain extent.
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jotasprout

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Is there an easy, standard, accurate way to use your API without using mbid or sloppy arguments like "pink+floyd" and "dark+side+moon"? I really want to switch from using Spotify's API to yours but the one thing they have you don't is a clear and simple way of getting IDs for artists, albums, and tracks. Multiple ways, actually! Other than that, your API has far more useful data but I can't use it if I I spend more time looking for IDs than actually developing.