Brian 4

Most cataloging and archiving applications available today are really good at helping you fill out a million data fields, automatically look up a CD on the Internet or download covers. But they have one big problem: they don’t produce reports suitable for displaying chronological recording sessions for print discographies. If you are used to those, most programs are inadequate.

Enter Brian4. This free and, I’m sorry to say, butt-ugly application impresses with it’s ability, not its looks. It is named after Brian Rust, who perfected the chronological recording session format for print discographies and Brian 2.1, for example, was used to compile the discography in the Sinatra Singles box from Capitol. It is a deceptively simple application that helps the user enter data in a way that he/she can produce a (jazz) discography when done. So, what we have here is a discographical tool as opposed to an inventory tool.

Brian 4 then doesn’t center on the CD or artists but on the recording session itself, including relevant session information such as the session location, the date, full personnel, master numbers and the like. On top of that, composers and issues (full titles and catalog numbers) can be entered.

At the end you have a standards-compliant discography, and if you did focus on a (jazz) artist that others haven’t covered yet, you can submit your discography to the growing pool over on, the “home” of Brian and its “output”.

It is certainly tedious to enter all the data, although the author provides a starting data pool you can install with Brian4, but the result oif all the work is very satisfying. If you have a larger jazz collection, you should really look into this program.

Brian is free for non-commercial use. Download it from
Note: Do have a look at the many discographies available on the site to see what Brian4 can do for you.

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

  1. Hi,

    I thought your readers would like to know about our great Physical Sharing and Cataloguing service called “Check Your Network First” ( ).

    Someone recently called it :  Netflix meets Friendster meets Napster.

    Using a social network you can review your VIRTUAL library of music.  It gives you great reasons to catch up with friends, try some of their music, movies etc, and then discuss over a coffee.

    And… it also stores your catalog online available 24/7 from anywhere.  Spreadsheet download with valuation (not sure if everyone wants to know how much they have burnt on their collection, but some do) and all the security you need.

    Have a look and let me know what you think.

    We have over 2,000 members and are growing daily.  Basic membership is free and advanced membership is less than $US 3 / month.


    Andrew Venn

    Co-Founder CYNF

    “…and always Check Your Network First”


    PS:  Sorry to insert it here, but could not find a place to send a general message.

    PPS:  Saw your site on pMachine site as I am looking at using one ourselves to improve the information side of the site.  As you will see the homepage is poor but review the demo and you can see the richness of what sits behind.


  2. I hope it is not too self-serving for me, the author of Brian, to comment on this review. I am very pleased to read it.

    When I designed Brian, I had no intention of creating a tool for cataloging a collection. But, over the years, more people have used it for that than for doing actual discography.

    Brian 5 is now available for download and there are many new features. I am still adding more features as I have time.

    I’m always pleased to get feedback and feature requests from users. If I can, I implement them.

    The “butt-ugly” comment is fair. The rainbow colored windows make for a poor design, but my users like it and some objected to my idea to “upgrade” to a better look. Brian users typically have many windows open at once and the different colors make it easy to find the one you are looking for – even if you can just see a smidge of color peeking out from behind another window, you click on that and bring your window to the front.

    Thanks for mentioning my work.


  3. Steve,

    glad you found your way here. Don’t worry about the butt-ugly; it’s a minor quibble. I’ve done quite a bit of work with Brian and it’s a fab application. Besides, your claim to fame is surely having the only (!) functional and solid application out there that serves us collector geeks not only well but perfectly. And it’s free. Hell, Brian is as good as they come. So, mucho thanks.

    In a world with bloated software and permanent beta-testing status for every user who dares to invest heavily into so-called “pro-software”, your program is a much needed reprieve. It works, works very well and gets the job done.

    “Kudos” to you, I think is the right expression for that.


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