For other uses, see Grace note (disambiguation).
Gracenote, Inc.
Founded October 5, 1998 (1998-10-05)[1] (as CDDB)
July 2000 (2000-07) (as Gracenote)
Headquarters Emeryville, California, U.S.
  • Music Data
  • Video Data
  • Sports Data
  • Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) Technology
  • Digital Video Fingerprinting
  • Acoustic Fingerprinting
Revenue $98.76 million (2014)[2]
Number of employees
1,700+ (2016)
Parent Tribune Media

Gracenote, Inc. provides music and video metadata and technologies to entertainment products and brands in the United States and internationally.[3] Gracenote provides music recognition technologies that compare digital music files to a worldwide database of music information, enabling digital audio devices to identify the songs. The company licenses its technologies to developers of consumer electronics devices and online media players, who integrate the technologies into media players, home and car stereos, and digital music devices.[2] The company operates five business verticals: Music, Video, Sports, Automotive and Video Personalization. Headquartered in Emeryville, California, the company employs approximately 1,700 people in 20 offices around the world. Gracenote is a division of Tribune Media Company which owns and operates a sizable portfolio of television and digital properties which bring entertainment, news and sports content to local and national audiences.

Gracenote is best known for MusicID, a music recognition solution that identifies compact discs and delivers artist metadata and cover art to the desktop. Gracenote database includes music genre and mood information, TV show descriptions, episode information and channel line-ups, movie cast and crew information and sports statistics and results. Companies including music services, TV providers, consumer electronics manufacturers and automakers use Gracenote data to power their content recognition, universal search, navigation, linking, discovery and personalized recommendations functionality.

Formerly CDDB (Compact Disc Data Base), Gracenote maintains and licenses an Internet-accessible database containing information about the contents of audio compact discs and vinyl records. It provides software and metadata to businesses that enable their customers to manage and search digital media. Gracenote provides its media management technology and global media database of digital entertainment information to the mobile, automobile, portable, home, and PC markets. Several computer software applications that were capable of playing CDs, for example Media Go and iTunes, used Gracenote's CDDB technology. Winamp, once a major licensee, no longer has access to Gracenote; the legacy media player program lost access to Gracenote when SHOUTcast and Winamp were sold by AOL in 2014. Redevelopment of Winamp continues by its new owner Radionomy who have said that future Winamp versions will have access to an online music database.[4] In 2014 Tribune Media Company bought Gracenote from Sony Corporation of America.[2]


Gracenote began in 1993 as an open-source project involving a CD player program named xmcd and an associated database named CDDB. xmcd and CDDB were created by Ti Kan and Steve Scherf. Because CDs do not contain any digitally-encoded information about their contents, Kan and Scherf devised a technology which identifies and looks up CDs based on TOC information stored at the beginning of each disc. A TOC, or Table of Contents, is a list of offsets corresponding to the start of each track on a CD. Its original database was created from and continues to receive voluntary contributions from users. This led to a licensing controversy when Gracenote became commercialized.

On April 22, 2008, Sony announced that it would acquire Gracenote for $260 million.[5] The acquisition was completed on June 2, 2008.[6]

On September 9, 2010 Gracenote received its one billionth piece of data, with a submission about the Compact Disc release of Swans' My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky.[7]

On December 23, 2013, Sony announced it would sell Gracenote to Tribune Media for $170 million. The acquisition closed in February 2014: Gracenote was aligned with the Tribune Media Services division which focused on TV and Movie metadata and IDs.[8][9]

On June 12, 2014, Tribune Media Services merged with Gracenote to form one company under the Gracenote name.[10]

On July 9, 2014, Tribune Media Company purchased What’s-ON, a provider of TV data and advanced search offerings covering India and the Middle East for $27 million. This acquisition expanded Gracenote’s international video data footprint and brought key recommendation technology into its IP portfolio.[11]

On September 3, 2014, Gracenote acquired Baseline, a Los-Angeles based provider of film and TV data and information. Baseline had previously been owned by the NY Times from 2006-2011 after which it was sold back to its original owners. This $50 million purchase deepened Gracenote’s existing video datasets and added the Studio System database, a subscription-based resource for the Hollywood content creation and distribution communities, to its line-up of offerings.[12]

On October 2, 2014, Gracenote purchased Australia-based TV and movie data company HWW for $19 million US to expand its Asia Pacific presence and international offerings.[13]

On May 28, 2015, Gracenote launched a new Sports vertical based on the $54 million acquisitions of Amsterdam-based Infostrada Sports and Halifax-based SportsDirect. This enabled the company to become a major provider of music, video and sports data on a global scale.[14]


With the acquisition by Tribune Media in 2014 and subsequent acquisitions of What’s-ON, HWW, Baseline, SportsDirect, and Infostrada Sports, Gracenote has expanded its core data product beyond Music into Video and Sports.

Gracenote's early product line-up consisted of MusicID, Mobile MusicID, Music Enrichment, Discover, Playlist, Playlist Plus, Media VOCS, Classical Music Initiative, and Link. In April 2007, Gracenote launched the first[15] legal lyrics offering in the U.S. that was sold to LyricFind in 2013.

Gracenote’s current Music offerings fall into three major categories: Music Recognition, Music Data and Music Discovery. Its Music Recognition product called MusicID® was originally developed as a CD track-identification system. Gracenote also operates a digital file identification service which uses audio fingerprinting technology to identify digital music files such as MP3s and deliver track level metadata, album art and links to complementary content and services. Its Music Data offering provides information describing Genre, Mood, Era, Origin and Tempo for tens of millions of songs. Its Music Discovery product called Rhythm™ delivers solutions enabling personalized playlist and radio station creation.[16][17]

Gracenote Auto puts Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology into the car’s audio system to identify music playing from various sources including AM/FM and satellite radio, CDs or streaming services and deliver relevant metadata and cover art. In December 2015, Gracenote launched its first audio technology, Gracenote Dynamic EQ, designed to help automakers and OEMs automatically tune connected car audio systems to the optimal equalizer settings for individual songs based on genre, mood and release date.[18]

Gracenote’s Video platform called On Entertainment™ consists of TV listings and schedules for approximately 85 countries and 35 languages as well as TV and Movie data and related-imagery information for six million TV shows and movies. On Entertainment is supported by standardized TMS IDs for TV shows, movies and celebrities. These IDs enable universal search across linear TV, OTT and VOD libraries and make possible “season pass” DVR recordings.

Gracenote Sports provides live scores, play-by-play data, historical results and records, schedules, player profiles and athlete biographies for 4,500 leagues and competitions such as the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, Premier League, F1, Bundesliga, Tour de France, Wimbledon and the Olympics. Gracenote’s Podium product tracks all Olympic competition results and rankings at elite and junior levels as well as historical Olympic data going back to the very first modern games in 1896. In September 2015, the company announced DVR Extend which enables TV providers to dynamically adjust DVR settings to ensure live sports game recordings don’t get cut off in the event they go past scheduled broadcast times.[19]


iTunes, Media Go and Sonicstage all use Gracenote's CD track identification services.[20][21][22]

In addition, Gracenote provides its products to a number of other services, including


In 1998, CDDB was purchased by Escient, a consumer electronics manufacturer, and operated as a business unit within the Indiana-based company. CDDB was then spun out of Escient and in July 2000 was renamed Gracenote. The CDDB database license was later changed to include new terms. For instance, any programs using a CDDB lookup had to display a CDDB logo while performing the lookup. Then, in March 2001, only licensed applications were provided access to the Gracenote database. New licenses for CDDB1 (the original version of CDDB) were no longer available, so programmers using Gracenote services were required to switch to CDDB2 (a new version incompatible with CDDB1).

This has been controversial, as the original CDDB database was created out of anonymous contributions, initially via the Open Source xmcd CD player program. Many listing contributors believed that the database was open-source as well, because in 1997,'s download and support pages had said it was released under the GPL. CDDB claims that license grant was an error.

See also

Notes and references

  1. " WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info - DomainTools". WHOIS. Retrieved 2016-03-26.
  2. 1 2 3 "Gracenot, Inc. Company profile". Hoover’s.
  3. "Gracenote, Inc. Private Company Information". Businessweek. Bloomberg L.P.
  4. Winamp Official Forum
  5. Gracenote News: Sony Corporation of America to Acquire Gracenote Archived June 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. Sony Corporation of America Completes Gracenote Acquisition Archived May 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. Cohen, Noam (2010-10-03). "Obsessions With Minutiae Thrive as Databases". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-04.
  8. "Tribune Closes $170 Mil Cash Deal to Acquire Sony's Gracenote". Variety. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  9. "Tribune Buys Gracenote From Sony". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  10. Michelle Clancy. "Tribune to merge Media Services into Gracenote operations". Rapid TV News. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  11. Lawler, Ryan; Contributor. "Tribune Digital Ventures Acquires Indian Electronic Program Guide Provider What's On". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  12. Spangler, Todd. "Tribune Media's Gracenote Acquires Baseline for $50 Million Cash". Variety. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  13. "Gracenote targets Australia with $19M buy-up of TV & movie data provider HWW". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  14. "Gracenote Puts Up $54M for Two Sports Data Firms". Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  15. "MetroLyrics get Authorized". Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  16. "Gracenote unveils new Internet radio technology". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  17. "Gracenote to Help Launch Music Services". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  18. "Gracenote's Dynamic EQ Automatically Tunes Car Stereo Systems One Song At A Time". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  19. "Gracenote: DVRs To Extend Record Time If Sports Game Goes Into Overtime". Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  20. "How iTunes remembers audio CDs". iTunes KB.
  21. "Gracenote Security Update June 27th, 2006". Affected Products: Sony CONNECT Player, Sony SonicStage Ver.3.3/3.4, Sony SonicStage Mastering Studio Ver.2.1/2.2
  22. "Local Music Files". Spotify. Thanks to our collaboration with the good people at Gracenote®, your MP3s can be made whole again.
  23. "Google Play Legal Information". Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  24. For more information, see Samsung Music Center: Samsung Multimedia Manager
  25. "Official: Sony and Ericsson are divorced". Retrieved 5 June 2015.
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