On the data refrain: Contributing to ListenBrainz

On the data refrain: Contributing to ListenBrainz

A unique opportunity of attending an open source-friendly university is when course credits and working on open source projects collide. This semester, I’m participating in an independent study at the Rochester Institute of Technology where I will contribute to the ListenBrainz project.

Many students take part in independent studies where they work on their own projects. However, in the spirit of open source collaboration, I wanted to contribute to a project that already existed. That way, my work would be helpful to a real-world project where it would have a value even after the end of the semester. Additionally, I wanted  a project to help me sharpen my Python skill. And ListenBrainz was a fun, exciting candidate for this.


The independent study proposal included three primary goals I hoped to meet during this independent study:

  1. Add basic reports to ListenBrainz from listening history data for top songs / artists / albums of week, month, year, etc.
  2. Create documentation to improve ease to use and develop for the ListenBrainz project
  3. Offer as a use case for the data visualization course in fall 2018 with instructions on how to use the data

Add basic reports

Methods for generating basic reports, charts, and statistics about listening history are important. They help make ListenBrainz a more interesting platform for a casual music listener, not just a developer. Therefore, my goal was to add a way to add basic reports or specific metrics for presenting to the user in the front-end.

As a stretch goal, if I have extra time, I would work on generating content (e.g. charts / graphs / statistics) to show the user in the front-end.


Documentation is something near and dear to me. I enjoy making it easier for other people to use a project or get started with contributing. Therefore, I will contribute some time as a technical writer and help improve documentation on the project. This includes improving existing documentation, like how to set up a development environment, or creating new content.

As an end deliverable, it would be nice to have someone who has never worked with the project run get a development environment set up, import some data, and see something presented to them. Good documentation is key to making something like this possible.

Use case for data course

RIT will offer a data visualization course in future semesters and it would be helpful if ListenBrainz could be a use case or even tool for the course. Then, students could work with ListenBrainz for creating different visualizations for the music data. And maybe contribute some of their visualizations back upstream! For this to happen, we need comprehensive documentation and complete features.

A focus includes making ListenBrainz a good fit for this course.

Learn more about ListenBrainz

For the next few months, until December, I will blog regularly about contributing to the ListenBrainz project and my progress. Additionally, more posts about MusicBrainz, other MetaBrainz projects, or music data may follow. I’m hoping to either create new or improve old documentation as well, so I plan to write often anyways!

For now, you can learn a bit more about ListenBrainz and other projects in the MetaBrainz family, like MusicBrainz.