Frequently Asked Questions

About this website

What is this site for?

We aim to provide a comprehensive guide to music content across the BBC. We are now expanding that service to provide comprehensive information about artists who appear on BBC programmes or who have been covered in bbc.co.uk/music's reviews.

We are also analysing the tracklists of some of our radio networks in order to provide information about when and where an artist has been played on the BBC, so our users can quickly and easily find the kind of shows that might suit their taste.

Musicbrainz and the BBC

What is MusicBrainz and why is the BBC using it as a source of data?

We aim to provide a comprehensive guide to music content across the BBC. We are now expanding that service to provide comprehensive information about artists who appear on BBC programmes or who have been covered in bbc.co.uk/music's reviews.

Since hand-building a page for every artist heard on the BBC would be beyond our resources, we are taking basic data around names, discographies and other key information from MusicBrainz, a website which offers discographical information on artists from Abba to Zappa (along with about 600,000 others). The information on the site is contributed, edited and maintained by an international community of users (including many members of BBC staff involved in music broadcasting and content), in much in the same way as Wikipedia.

Wikipedia and the BBC

Why is the BBC using Wikipedia as a source for artist biographies?

We know that many people using our website would like to find out more about artists, and basic biographical information is one of the key things that people expect to find on our pages. We feel that we provide best value to the licence fee payer by concentrating our resources on providing great original content (mainly through broadcast) and making it easy to find that content on the web. Biographies are a standardised type of content that are expected across thousands of artists. Wikipedia offers good quality biographies with very good coverage across artists. There are two good reasons to use this content rather than recreating similar content in-house or sourcing it from a commercial supplier:

  1. 1. It's available under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License, which means not only is there no licensing cost to the licence-fee payer for this text, but it is freely available to all our users to use and share in turn.
  2. 2. It's editable by anyone. This may seem like a mixed blessing, but the entire Wikipedia model is a living demonstration that openness to user contribution and amendment tends to improve content over the long term and not vice versa.

Wikipedia and the BBC

What happens if somebody decides to vandalise content on Wikipedia deliberately?

Our first resort is to rely on Wikipedia's own community and conventions which have generally proved robust in their response to vandalism. The Wikipedia policy on vandalism can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_vandalism. However, if it comes to our attention, for example via a user complaint, that there is a persistent problem with offensive or defamatory content being included from Wikipedia on any of our pages, we also have the option of suspending the inclusion of the biography on the page in question until we're satisfied that the problem has been solved. In the unlikely event that you have spotted something offensive on the discographies or tracklists, please contact us and let us know.

Errors and Inaccuracies

What if I find some content that's inaccurate from either Wikipedia or MusicBrainz?

Everybody is welcome to edit Wikipedia or MusicBrainz, and we are very keen to encourage experts among our users to contribute in this way. To edit MusicBrainz you will need to go through a simple registration process. Links are displayed on every artist page to edit entries for that artist in both places.

Profanity

Why does the BBC allow profane names of artists, tracks or albums to be displayed in full in some places while it hides them in others?

In a small fraction of the content we include in our pages from Wikipedia and MusicBrainz - specifically the names of artists, albums and tracks - there will be language that is offensive to some members of the audience. Context is a key factor in whether we choose to display such language in its original form, or to mask it by the use of asterisks. Our general principle is to avoid exposing users to such content accidentally, but not to censor it unduly.

In specific terms, wherever an artist name appears in a programme tracklist, search result or any other kind of aggregation we will mask it. However, where users have chosen to navigate to an artist's page we feel it would be unnecessary and patronising to continue to mask the offending words, for example within the text of a biography. Similarly, where there are profanities in track names we will not display them in the context of tracklists for programmes that play a variety of artists, but we do display them in album tracklists on a page for a release or an album review, where someone viewing the page already has a general expectation of tone based on the artist or artists involved, the genre, the album cover etc. And where there are profanities in album names we will not display them in lists such as a set of links to album reviews, but we will display them in artist discographies where, once again, users will have a general expectation of the territory they are in.

By doing this, we feel we are applying a proportionate level of editorial control to avoid offence to casual users, without undue censorship of objective facts which might offend the common sense of other members of our audience.

Profanity

How can I contact the BBC to give my views on this approach to publishing content?

We are very keen to hear the views of our audience on our approach to publishing content around artists and albums. If you have a general comment, please contact us here . Please note that while we value your feedback we can't necessarily answer every comment or question that comes in.

If you have seen content that's defamatory or highly offensive, please use our complaints form and we will aim to respond as soon as possible.

Artists

Artist play count information

We provide a list of artists most played on BBC radio within the past seven days. We would like to stress that this data is not yet complete, and should not be taken as a full and accurate record of the music that the BBC has played. Certain networks and areas of networks' schedules are still under-represented within this data, and we are continuously working to make the data more reliable.

We also provide a ranking of programmes who play each artist on the BBC. This is based on the number of times an individual artist has been played on an individual programme divided by the average duration of the programmes that featured the artist. This is the best way we've yet identified to offer links to the programmes most likely to play the artist in question if you access the programme on demand and only have half an hour to listen. Once again, the same health warning applies. The data is not always complete and we are working to improve it.

If you wish to use feeds of this data to build your own content, please read our section on Rights.

Artists

How do I find a particular artist?

If you are looking for a particular artist who's not featured on one of our pages, there are two ways to get to their page:

  1. 1. Use the BBC search box at the top of this page
  2. 2. If you know the MusicBrainz ID (you can find this by searching at musicbrainz.org, you can use that to compose the URL and write that into your browser's address bar, e.g. http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/artists/6cd3b12e-c899-4f59-a770-c217954f247a

Artists

How do I get my band an artist page?

If you're in a band or are involved in representing and promoting artists, you'll find a guide to BBC Artist Pages here.

http://sites.google.com/site/bbcartistpages/

Artists

Similar artist information

Each BBC Music artist page carries links to pages on similar artists.

Developers

What does this site offer developers?

The site has been developed against the principles of linked open data and RESTful architecture where the creation of persistent URLs is a primary objective. The initial sources of data are limited to the artist page but this will hopefully be extended over time.

Here's our mini-manifesto:

  1. Peristence
  2. Linked open data
  3. RESTful
  4. One web

At present this is limited to the provision of JSON and XML representations of the artist page at /music/artists/:mbz_guid.[xml|json] We hope soon to extend this to offer reviews in a similar manner, and to expose RDF formatted data for these resources.

Developers

What happened to the rest of the data feeds?

In August 2011 we relaunched the /music site, implementing some underlying architectural changes, and reviewing which pages were most popular with users. As a result of this we have trimmed the site slightly to remove some rarely used content, and regrettably we've not been able to maintain all the data feeds previously offered - particularly those which were shallow copies of data also available at the MusicBrainz site.

Rights and Data Licences

Rights

Wikipedia content is licensed, by Wikimedia, under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License.

MusicBrainz data is licensed under the Creative Commons Public Domain and Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence. For more information have a look at the MusicBrainz Data Licences.

The BBC's album reviews are licensed under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike Creative Commons Licence. If you choose to use a review on your site please link back to the original page.

Our own data on the frequency with which individual artists are played by individual programmes is available in a variety of formats, including: XML, YAML, JSON, RDF, Atom and RSS (see The URLs and a RESTful API http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/developers#api ).

We make this data available under the licence we have developed for BBC Backstage. See the Backstage Terms of Use for details of this licence.

Other Questions

What if I have a question about TV or Radio, where can I find the answer?

We have separate FAQ sections for television and radio.