Freedb gateway: End of life notice, March 18, 2019

Many moons ago people clamoured for a way for them to use MusicBrainz via their old FreeDB (and others) enabled players. The hope was that this would be a short term solution as more players picked up MusicBrainz support so we created the FreeDB gateway that allowed old clients to use an ancient interface to look up CDs with MusicBrainz.

We’ve been maintaining this gateway for over 11 years now and recently we had a user asking questions about their new music player and that they were having a hard time getting it to work with our FreeDB gateway.

Wait, what? Someone is developing specifically for a stop-gap measure? Clearly the goal of FreeDB gateway has been misconceived and people are not treating it as a gateway to using the proper MusicBrainz API endpoints.

We’re no longer keen on supporting this gateway and have been having trouble finding volunteers to maintain it. Our internal staff has enough to do with our own duties and have no interest in further maintaining this and neither do I.

For these reasons the FreeDB gateway is going away in 6 months time; March 18 will be the absolute last day that the gateway will be functioning. Should something crash and the gateway experience problems before then, we’ll just kill the VM that the gateway is running on and call it a day.

11 years of temporary is enough — if you use this service, migrate to a proper MusicBrainz endpoint right now!

7 thoughts on “Freedb gateway: End of life notice, March 18, 2019

  1. PATATE12

    What I miss is the other Free DB related feature, the release search that we had to import releases from FreeDB.
    The freedb.org search is completely buggy, it only does an OR search with all words.
    In MB we could search by artist and album names, we could even say how many tracks, etc.

  2. wc

    I second that (the absence of the release search feature). freedb still has (and, more importantly, will continue to have) many thousands of genuine releases that are not on MB (or discogs for that matter). It’s now just more palaver to take the information across.

    As to the removal of the gateway I suspect most comments will arrive after its removal… MB is already fighting for its life against competing resources. The removal of one of its unique benefits will just accelerate this process.

  3. Sophist

    @wl said “freedb still has (and, more importantly, will continue to have) many thousands of genuine releases that are not on MB (or discogs for that matter). It’s now just more palaver to take the information across.”

    This is NOT what the FreeDB gateway does – it gives access to the MB data using the FreeDB API so that applications written to the FreeDB API can use MusicBrainz as a data source. This is completely different to the ability to import FreeDB data as a starting point for a MB entry.

    1. The FreeDB API is essentially undocumented – you won’t find any documentation on the FreeDB website, nor indeed in a Google search. FreeDB may be hosted by Magix, but it is essentially functionally stabilised – there is no one maintaining the code unless possibly if something breaks. The quality of the FreeDB data is somewhat suspect as they do not exercise much quality control – to quote from their web site “We try to (automatically) sort out bad entries but cannot guarantee that all submitted data is correct”, and I am guessing that this only weeds out the blatantly obviously wrong data.

    2. I would imagine that most people who use FreeDB API tools use the FreeDB database rather than Musicbrainz. Since the FreeDB API and that the majority of usage is to provide the most basic tagging of music files just ripped – and that many people are happy with that, and that even if the data is not entirely accurate it is good enough to give them a sense of what they are listening to.

    The small proportion of users who point their FreeDB API tool at the Musicbrainz Gateway are clearly looking for better data – in which case they should switch to a tool which uses the official MB API in order to get not only more accurate data but more depth of data too.

    Ultimately I guess the FreeDB vs. MB debate comes down to whether you want quantity or quality. FreeDB may have more breadth (more records), but the depth (metadata and relationships) and quality of the MB data is far better.

  4. PATATE12

    @Sophist, we spoke about the FreeDB super advanced seach that we had in MBS with many additional parameters, that allowed for having good information on track counts and lengths.
    It was broken once when MBS changed a server https://tickets.metabrainz.org/browse/SEARCH-437
    But I can totally understand it is not worked on.
    It’s just that it was such a wonderfully made search for a third party service that is not able to provide even 1% of the features in its own search page (freedb.org (not) advanced search). 🙂

  5. Sophist

    But my point was that this post is about dropping support for tools using the FreeDB API to query the MB database – but SEARCH-437 is about using the MB API to search FreeDB data i.e. the exact opposite.

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