Category Archives: MetaBrainz

MetaBrainz is on Amazon Smile

Amazon has created a program where your purchases at Amazon can support your favorite non-profit. This program is called Amazon Smile and MetaBrainz is enrolled in this program. If you would like to support MetaBrainz (and thus MusicBrainz), start with this link when you start shopping:

Metabrainz Foundation Inc

Alternatively you can bookmark this link:

http://smile.amazon.com/ch/20-1644586

We’ll be integrating links to Amazon Smile into the MusicBrainz web site soon, so you won’t have to remember these links.

UPDATE: This only works for the US based Amazon store.

Amazon cake update

Yesterday evening I had a call with my contacts at Amazon and a person from the Accounts Payable department. Over the last two days they were able to work out the kinks in their accounting with regard to the MetaBrainz Foundation.

They verified that the outstanding invoices from our perspective were correct, including the now infamous invoice #144. Shortly after the call, a check for $22,500 was cut and will arrive in California by 10:30am today. I’ve also received a complete history of all of the payments made to the MetaBrainz Foundation and I’m happy to say that everything looks great to me.

Also, an issue surrounding this invoice was pointed out to me: If invoice #144 wasn’t outstanding, all of this would’ve been a bit drastic. I agree with that, but what I failed to mention in my last blog post was that if invoice #144 wasn’t paid, then invoice #200 (which is 3 months younger than #144) was outstanding. The matter at hand was that there was a 3 year, or a nearly 3 year, old invoice outstanding. Personally, I really wanted to gain clarity around what happened nearly 3 years ago and finally put the issue to bed.

Finally, I would like to commend Amazon on how they handled matters in the last week. When prodded hard enough, Amazon got their act together, got to work and figured out this mess and then swiftly cut a check. I’ll keep posting updates about this until the check is in the bank and has cleared, but it certainly looks like we’re heading to a complete resolution of this matter early next week.

Thanks Amazon!

Using cakes for social engineering

For the past few years we’ve had some accounting difficulties with one of our customers: Amazon. I have no idea how their accounting and vendor systems work, but apparently we ended up in their system 4 different ways. And payment methods were horribly confused — it was a mess all around.

Invoice #144, for our Live Data Feed service that Amazon subscribes to, has been outstanding for almost three years now (it will be 3 years in January, but I wanted to get this money to come in in 2013). To be honest, there could be some confusion on our or on Amazon’s part — in fact the invoice may not be outstanding anymore. The fact of the matter is that we can’t seem to figure out what exactly is going on, but no money is flowing from Amazon to us and we’re owed somewhere around $20,000. (Which is near 10% of our annual budget incidentally)

For the last 6 months I’ve stepped up my pestering to get this resolved. I’ve been assured progress for the past 6 months, but nothing has happened. Promises of progress, then nothing. Again and again. I finally had an idea how to make change happen: Send Amazon an anniversary cake and post a picture of it publicly!

I even told my Amazon contacts about this idea, but it didn’t really catalyze anything. Then I finally set a deadline of Dec 2nd. The deadline came and went with more unfulfilled promises, so on December 2nd I picked up the phone and ordered a cake. Larsen’s Danish Bakery in Seattle were quite lovely to work with and created this cake for us:

Invoice #144 cake

A friend of mine went to the bakery, snapped this picture and then delivered the cake to Amazon HQ. It was accepted at the reception with promises that it would be delivered to its recipient. Then we started tweeting and Cory posted an entry to BoingBoing “Charity sends Amazon a cake celebrating 3d anniversary of unpaid invoice“.

For almost 24 hours nothing happened, but then I got email from my contact at Amazon telling me that the Accounts Payable team found a problem that was blocking payments from being sent to us, that the problem was now fixed and that they were investigating means to prevent this from happening again.

My contact goes on to say that a check will be cut tomorrow an overnighted to us. And that I should expect one more email telling me who on Amazon will be managing our relationship going forward. And, I have a voicemail pending from a person at Amazon’s accounts payable team to finally resolve the matter of the 3 year old invoice.

Sending this cake was quite effective! For $30 I managed to wake up Amazon, send a clear message that our account was not being managed well, that their AP team has some issues to address and that I wanted to fix our relationship. From where I stand, I see that these issues are on track for being resolved. Thanks for stepping up your game, Amazon!

Finally, I would like to say that all the people I’ve dealt with at Amazon have been polite and were honestly trying to help me. The real reason, from what I can tell, is that Amazon employees are constantly overworked and that MetaBrainz is such a small organization that its hard for them to really find the time to manage this relationship.

I’m glad that Amazon didn’t just cancel their contract with us and I’m looking forward to an improved working relationship going forward.

Annual report for 2012 finally posted

I finally completed the 2012 annual report! This year has been busy, so I apologize for finishing it this late.

Our cost per 1M web hits dropped significantly, we finished our first year in the red and we created 1/4 of all of our edits to date in 2012! Go read the report to find out who was the top editor, the top voter and other interesting tidbits about MusicBrainz in 2012.

Thanks to Navap, Nikki and Reosarevok for helping in putting this report together!

Google donates another $40,000

We’ve just received our annual sponsorship from Google’s Open Source Programs Office to the tune of $40,000. Thanks so much for continuing to sponsor us, Google!

At the current count we’ve received nearly a quarter million dollars from Google’s Open Source Programs Office, which is truly amazing. Thanks for all your support, it clearly makes a big difference in our operations!

Please welcome AOL Music into the MetaBrainz ecosystem!

The continued economic turmoil persisted in 2012 and thus it was a slow year for adding new customers for MetaBrainz. However, we did add one high profile customer in 2012: AOL Music.

For a number of reasons we felt that it was prudent to get MusicBrainz integrated into AOL before making public news about it. Now the time is finally right to talk about our relationship with AOL and Winamp. I had been talking to Geno Yoham (GM of Winamp) and Lisa Namerow (GM of AOL Music) about MusicBrainz at various conferences for several years. Forging relationships with large companies take a quite a long time and the formation of our relationship was really no different. At the end of 2011 Geno, Lisa and team were ready to take action and surprised me by pledging a sizeable donation to the MetaBrainz Foundation. This donation was received early in 2012 about the same time that we signed the data license contract. And just last week we received another donation for 2012!! Thanks AOL and Winamp!

Early in 2012 AOL launched updated services underpinned by MusicBrainz data:

  • The Now Playing feature in Winamp allows a user to find out more about the artist that is currently playing in Winamp.
  • The AOL Music Artist pages also use MusicBrainz data to display discography information and to provide some of the links for the other content shown on those pages.

Our relationship with AOL follows a similar pattern to our relationship to the BBC. The BBC has done wonders for highlighting and lending credibility to MusicBrainz and I expect that our relationship with AOL will bring about similar benefits for MusicBrainz.

Thank you team AOL and especially to Geno Yoham and Lisa Namerow for believing in us!

7digital & The Echo Nest have become MusicBrainz customers

I’m pleased to announce that 7digital and The Echo Nest have become our latest customers!

7digital enables a lot of digital music stores and provides a lot of services for mobile operators. 7digital has relationships with many labels and thus faces complex metadata issues. I’m quite pleased that 7digital has chosen to partner with MusicBrainz to fix these metadata issues.

The Echo Nest provides tons of digital music services and is a driving force behind Music Hack Days here in the States. The Echo Nest also created project Rosetta Stone, a service that translates to/from MusicBrainz IDs from/to other ID spaces like the Echo Nest IDs or Rdio IDs.

Welcome to the MusicBrainz ecosystem!

Splunk supports MusicBrainz!

As part of Google’s Summer of Code program we accepted Dániel Bali to work on analyzing our web server logs to mine them for interesting information about MusicBrainz and people who are using MusicBrainz. (see a preview of this project)

To make that project a reality we had help from Splunk, the company that creates the fantastic data analysis tool by the same name. Splunk provided us with enterprise trial licenses during the summer and now going forward has accepted us into their Splunk for Good program. This program provides a free 10GB/day (it allows us to import 10GB of data into our Splunk server per day) license on a yearly basis.

We now count Splunk among our sponsors and we’re looking forward to rolling out Dániel’s work in October. Thank you Splunk and thank you to Joyce Morrell and Christy Wilson from Splunk for working with us to make this happen!

Matthew Hawn from Last.fm joins the MetaBrainz board of directors

I’m pleased to announce that Matthew Hawn from Last.fm has joined our board of directors. Matthew is a veteran of the music industry who has worked for big music labels in the past and today fills the role of VP of Product at Last.fm. Matthew joining our board of directors reflects our shared history and the closer collaboration between MusicBrainz and Last.fm

Welcome on board Matthew!

Matthew replaces outgoing director Derek Sivers. Derek, the founder of CD Baby, has been with MetaBrainz since its beginning of the organization and has looked out for us many times. We really appreciate everything you’ve done for us Derek!

UPDATE: Fixed Matthew’s title.

Google makes its annual $40k donation!

Once again, Google has donated $40,000 to the MetaBrainz Foundation in support of MusicBrainz. Thank you Chris DiBona and Cat Allman at the Open Source Programs Office at Google! Your support has helped MusicBrainz along more than any other organization — thank you for your continued support!