Gracenote is a company that provides music, video, and sports metadata, as well as automatic content recognition technology (ACR) to entertainment companies and developers of consumer electronics across the globe. In total, Gracenote operates five businesses. These are music, video, sports, automotive, and video personalization.
History of Gracenote
Gracenote was originally started by Ti Kan and Steve Scherf in 1993. Here they are featured in Wired in 2005.
Back then they called the company Compact Disc Data Base (CDDB) and their main focus was a technology they devised that was able to read the Table of Contents (TOC) encoded at the beginning of every CD. Therefore, their original database received (and continues to receive today) voluntary data give to them from users of the technology.
Sony acquired Gracenote in 2008 for $260 million, and sold it to Tribune Media in 2014 for $170 million. Later that year Tribune Media and Gracenote merged into one, under the same name of Gracenote. Gracenote has since purchased a couple of other data-providing companies to widen their database, such as Los-Angeles based company Baseline and Australia based company HWW.
Early in 2017, Tribune Media sold Gracenote to Nielsen for $540 million. Gracenote is now owned by Nielsen. They are headquartered in Emeryville, California. The company employs more than 1800 workers in over 25 offices located around the globe.
The company provides many services. Let’s start with music. Gracenote has three main music products. The first product, MusicID, is one of their best-known products. It is a music recognition product that can identify CD and digital tracks and provide album and artist metadata.
The second product, Music Data, provides information about genre, mood, date of release and place of release for tens of millions of songs. (That’s a lot of songs!)
The third product is Music Discovery which can make personalized playlists and song recommendations. Under the umbrella of “music”, Gracenote has also provided song lyrics, which have since been sold to the website LyricFind in 2013.
Automatic Content Recognition
If you’ve ever been listening to the radio while driving in the car, and the little screen on the console displays what song is playing, that is Gracenote’s Automatic Content Recognition at work. I always used to wonder how the car knew what song was playing; it baffled me. In fact, Gracenote’s music recognition technology compares music to a worldwide database which allows it to recognize and identify music. This ACR technology can then be installed in cars to identify music from AM/FM radio, CDs, and other sources. It can also be integrated into media players and home stereos.
Gracenote also released Gracenote Dynamic EQ, an audio technology designed to modify car audio systems automatically, so that the optimal equalizer settings are chosen for each song depending on its genre, mood and age.
Gracenote’s video technology, called On Entertainment, provides information on TV shows, episodes, movie casts and crews, and channel line-ups. They offer channel line-ups for channels broadcasting in around 85 different countries.
Sports scores, play-by-play data, team and athlete data…all of these are provided by Gracenote. Their product Podium also tracks results for the Olympic games that goes all the way back to the first Olympics in 1896.
Gracenote offers its online services to many companies, including Spotify, Google Music, Amazon MP3, Winamp, and others. They offer their automotive products to companies including Bose, Sony, Alpine and Panasonic. Media Go, iTunes and Sonic Stage use Gracenote’s track identification technology.
In our digital world, Gracenote plays a huge role in facilitating the entertainment that is provided to us, even though we may not realize it.