Setting up the server

You can set up CritiqueBrainz server using Docker. It requires minimum amount of configuration.


Make sure you have the latest version of docker and docker-compose.


First, you need to create custom configuration file. Copy the skeleton configuration:

$ cp

Then open critiquebrainz/ in your favourite text editor and update configuration values as described next.

MusicBrainz login

To be able to log in using MusicBrainz accounts you need to set MUSICBRAINZ_CLIENT_ID and MUSICBRAINZ_CLIENT_SECRET OAuth values.

These values can be obtained from MusicBrainz after you register a new instance of CritiqueBrainz at (you’ll need a MusicBrainz account). In the Callback URL field type:



<HOST> field should be set to localhost if you plan to run a local instance of CritiqueBrainz for development purposes. For example:- If you are running your local instance of the server on Port Number 8000 then <HOST> should be set to localhost:8000.

After application has been registered, set MUSICBRAINZ_CLIENT_ID and MUSICBRAINZ_CLIENT_SECRET in your to the values that you see on the MusicBrainz website.

Spotfiy API authentication

To use the Spotify Web API, you need to set the SPOTIFY_CLIENT_ID and SPOTIFY_CLIENT_SECRET values. OAuth keys can be obtained after registering on the Spotify developer website.

After registering and logging into your Spotify account, head to and then register your application following the instructions at

Finally, save the obtained Client ID and Client Secret fields in your fields SPOTIFY_CLIENT_ID and SPOTIFY_CLIENT_SECRET respectively.


Then you can build all the services:

$ docker-compose -f docker/ build

MusicBrainz database containing all the MusicBrainz metadata is needed for setting up your application. The mbdump.tar.bz2 is the core MusicBrainz archive which includes the tables for artist, release_group etc. The mbdump-derived.tar.bz2 archive contains annotations, user tags and search indexes. These archives include all the data required for setting up an instance of CritiqueBrainz.

One can import the database dump by downloading and importing the data in a single command:

$ docker-compose -f docker/ run musicbrainz_db


One can also manually download the dumps and then import it:-

  1. For this, you have to download the dumps mbdump.tar.bz2 and mbdump-derived.tar.bz2 from


    Make sure to get the latest dumps

  2. Then the environment variable DUMPS_DIR must be set to the path of the folders containing the dumps. This can be done by:

    $ export DUMPS_DIR="Path of the folder containing the dumps"

    You can check that the variable DUMPS_DIR has been succesfully assigned or not by:

    $ echo $DUMPS_DIR

    This must display the path of your folder containing database dumps. The folder must contain at least the file mbdump.tar.bz2.

  3. Then import the database dumps by this command:

    $ docker-compose -f docker/ run -v $DUMPS_DIR:/home/musicbrainz/dumps \
    -v $PWD/data/mbdata:/var/lib/postgresql/data/pgdata musicbrainz_db


You can also use the smaller sample dumps available at to set up the MusicBrainz database. However, note that these dumps are .tar.xz dumps while CritiqueBrainz currently only supports import of .tar.bz2 dumps. So, a decompression of the sample dumps and recompression into .tar.bz2 dumps will be needed. This can be done using the following command

$ xzcat mbdump-sample.tar.xz | bzip2 > mbdump.tar.bz2


Keep in mind that this process is very time consuming, so make sure that you don’t delete the data/mbdata directory by accident. Also make sure that you have about 25GB of free space to keep the MusicBrainz data.

Initialization of CritiqueBrainz database is also required:

$ docker-compose -f docker/ run critiquebrainz python3 \ init_db --skip-create-db

Then you can start all the services:

$ docker-compose -f docker/ up -d

Building static files

Current Docker setup for development has one caveat: installation of Node.js dependencies and static file builds need to be done manually. This is caused by the volume setup.

After you started development versions of containers with Compose, connect to the main container:

$ docker-compose -f docker/ run critiquebrainz /bin/bash

then install dependencies (it’s enough to do this once, unless you modify package.json) and build static files (needs to be done after any changes to JS or Less):

root@<container_id>:/code# npm install
root@<container_id>:/code# ./node_modules/.bin/gulp

Importing data dump

We provide daily data dumps from that include reviews and most of the data associated with them. If you want to import that into your own installation, download archives from (you’ll need to get the base archive cbdump.tar.bz2 and one with reviews) and use python3 export importer command. First you need to import base archive and then one that contains reviews. For example:

$ docker-compose -f docker/ run critiquebrainz python3 dump import cbdump.tar.bz2
$ docker-compose -f docker/ run critiquebrainz python3 dump import cbdump-reviews-all.tar.bz2

Keep in mind that CritiqueBrainz only supports importing into an empty database. This should work if you just ran init_db command.


Alternative way to test the web server is to use a Docker container:

$ docker-compose -f docker/docker-compose.test.yml up --build

Modifying strings

CritiqueBrainz supports interface translation. If you add or modify strings that will be displayed to users, then you need to wrap them in one of two functions: gettext() or ngettext().

Before committing changes don’t forget to extract all strings into messages.pot:

$ python3 update_strings

For more info see Translation.