Last updated
Gracenote, Inc.
FormerlyCompact Disc Data Base (1998–2000)
Type Subsidiary
FoundedOctober 5, 1998;22 years ago (1998-10-05) [1]
Key people
Karthik Rao (President)
Amilcar Perez (CRO)
Atul Phadnis (CCO)
Kay Johansson (CTO)
  • 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 Nielsen

Gracenote, Inc. is a company owned by Nielsen Holdings which provides music, video and sports metadata and automatic content recognition (ACR) technologies to entertainment services and companies, worldwide. [3] Gracenote's music recognition technologies compare digital music files to a worldwide database of music information, enabling digital audio devices to identify 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 businesses: 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 known for MusicID, a music recognition software which identifies compact discs and delivers artist metadata and cover art to the desktop. The 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, universal search, navigation, linking, discovery and personalized recommendations abilities.[ citation needed ]

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 which enables 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 software applications which were capable of playing CDs (i.e.; 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. [4] Redevelopment of Winamp continues by its new owner Radionomy who have said future Winamp versions will have access to an online music database. [5] In 2014 Tribune Media Company bought Gracenote from Sony Corporation of America. [2] In December 2016, Tribune announced that it had reached an agreement to sell Gracenote to Nielsen Holdings, PLC. for $560 million. [6] The purchase was completed on February 1, 2017.


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 that 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. [7] The acquisition was completed on June 2, 2008. [8]

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 . [9]

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. [10] [11]

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

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. [13]

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. [14]

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. [15]

On May 28, 2015, Gracenote acquired Amsterdam-based Infostrada Sports and Halifax-based SportsDirect, providers of music, video and sports data. [16]

On December 20, 2016, Tribune Media announced that it was selling Gracenote to Nielsen Holdings for $540 million in cash. [17] The deal officially closed on February 1, 2017. [18] In September 2017, Gracenote partnered with Connekt and Ensequence to deliver real-time offers on smart TVs. [19]


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 [20] 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 that 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. It's Music Data offering provides information describing Genre, Mood, Era, Origin and Tempo for tens of millions of songs. [21] [22] [23]

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. [24]

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.[ citation needed ]

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. [25]


iTunes, Media Go, Sonicstage, Groove Music and Windows Media Player all use Gracenote's CD track identification services. [26] [27] [28] [29]

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 American 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 the 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 & SHOUTcast Forums - View Single Post - CDDB problems (Gracenote Services No Longer Work In Winamp: Reason Why Explained)". Retrieved 2017-01-12.
  5. Winamp Official Forum
  6. Lieberman, David (December 20, 2016). "Tribune Media Agrees To Sell Gracenote Data Services To Nielsen For $560M". Pensky Media.
  7. Gracenote News: Sony Corporation of America to Acquire Gracenote Archived June 4, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  8. Sony Corporation of America Completes Gracenote Acquisition Archived May 16, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  9. Cohen, Noam (2010-10-03). "Obsessions With Minutiae Thrive as Databases". The New York Times . Retrieved 2010-10-04.
  10. "Tribune Closes $170 Mil Cash Deal to Acquire Sony's Gracenote". Variety. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  11. "Tribune Buys Gracenote From Sony". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  12. Michelle Clancy. "Tribune to merge Media Services into Gracenote operations". Rapid TV News. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  13. Lawler, Ryan; Contributor. "Tribune Digital Ventures Acquires Indian Electronic Program Guide Provider What's On". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  14. Spangler, Todd. "Tribune Media's Gracenote Acquires Baseline for $50 Million Cash". Variety. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  15. "Gracenote targets Australia with $19M buy-up of TV & movie data provider HWW". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  16. "Gracenote Puts Up $54M for Two Sports Data Firms". Retrieved 2019-08-25.
  17. "Nielsen will acquire Tribune-owned Gracenote for $560M". Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  18. "Nielsen Completes Acquisition of Gracenote". Nielsen Press Release. February 1, 2017.
  19. O'Halloran, Joseph. "Gracenote teams with Connekt, Ensequence to deliver real-time offers on smart TVs". Rapid TV News. Retrieved 2017-10-17.
  20. "MetroLyrics get Authorized". Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  21. "Gracenote unveils new Internet radio technology". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  22. "Gracenote to Help Launch Music Services". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
  23. "What is Gracenote and Why Should Musicians Use It". Bison Disc. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  24. "Gracenote's Dynamic EQ Automatically Tunes Car Stereo Systems One Song At A Time". Forbes. Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  25. "Gracenote: DVRs To Extend Record Time If Sports Game Goes Into Overtime". Retrieved 2016-04-06.
  26. "How iTunes remembers audio CDs". iTunes KB.
  27. "Gracenote Security Update June 27th, 2006". Archived from the original on 2010-01-24. Affected Products: Sony CONNECT Player, Sony SonicStage Ver.3.3/3.4, Sony SonicStage Mastering Studio Ver.2.1/2.2
  28. "Local Music Files". Spotify. Thanks to our collaboration with the good people at Gracenote®, your MP3s can be made whole again.
  29. "Uploading Your CD Metadata to Gracenote". Affected Products: Windows Media Player, Groove Music
  30. "Google Play Legal Information". Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  31. For more information, see Samsung Music Center: Samsung Multimedia Manager
  32. "Official: Sony and Ericsson are divorced". Retrieved 5 June 2015.

Related Research Articles

MusicBrainz Online music metadata database

MusicBrainz is a project which aims to create a collaborative music database that is similar to the freedb project. MusicBrainz was founded in response to the restrictions placed on the Compact Disc Database (CDDB), a database for software applications to look up audio CD information on the Internet. MusicBrainz has expanded its goals to reach beyond a CD metadata storehouse to become a structured online database for music.

Sony Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation

Sony Group Corporation is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Kōnan, Minato, Tokyo. As a major technology company, it operates as one of the world's largest manufacturers of consumer and professional electronic products, the largest video game console company and the largest video game publisher. Through Sony Entertainment Inc, it is one of the largest music companies and the third largest film studio, making it one of the most comprehensive media companies, being the largest Japanese media conglomerate by size overtaking the privately held, family-owned Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings, the largest Japanese media conglomerate by revenue.

Freedb was a database of compact disc track listings, where all the content was under the GNU General Public License. To look up CD information over the Internet, a client program calculated a hash function from the CD table of contents and used it as a disc ID to query the database. If the disc was in the database, the client was able to retrieve and display the artist, album title, track list and some additional information.

CD ripper

A CD ripper, CD grabber, or CD extractor is software that rips raw digital audio in Compact Disc Digital Audio (CD-DA) format tracks on a compact disc to standard computer sound files, such as WAV or MP3.

Nielsen Holdings American information, data and measurement company

Nielsen Holdings PLC is an American, UK-domiciled, information, data and market measurement firm. Nielsen operates in over 100 countries and employs approximately 44,000 people worldwide.

Electronic program guide Television term

Electronic programming guides (EPGs) and interactive programming guides (IPGs) are menu-based systems that provide users of television, radio and other media applications with continuously updated menus that display scheduling information for current and upcoming broadcast programming. Some guides also feature backward scrolling to promote their catch up content. They are commonly known as guides or TV guides.

TV listings Printed or electronic guide of scheduled television programs

TV listings are a printed or electronic timetable of television programs. Often intended for consumer use, these provide information concerning programming scheduled to be broadcast on various television channels available to the reader – either via terrestrial, free-to-air, cable, satellite or over-the-top MVPD – indicating at what time and on what channel they are due to be broadcast over a period usually encompassing about seven- to 14-days in advance.

Audience measurement measures how many people are in an audience, usually in relation to radio listenership and television viewership, but also in relation to newspaper and magazine readership and, increasingly, web traffic on websites. Sometimes, the term is used as pertaining to practices which help broadcasters and advertisers determine who is listening rather than just how many people are listening. In some parts of the world, the resulting relative numbers are referred to as audience share, while in other places the broader term market share is used. This broader meaning is also called audience research.

tvtv Services, trading as tvtv, is a consumer oriented pan-European Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) service provider, owned by the arvato AG subsidiary rtv media group GmbH since January 2013. It was formerly broadcast on Freeview channel 304 until 30 October 2008.

AmpliFIND is an acoustic fingerprinting service and a software development kit developed by the US company MusicIP.

HWW Limited

HWW was an Australian-based organisation which supplied television and movies metadata to a broad range of clients across new and traditional media including: online publishers, subscription television providers, IPTV providers, HbbTV providers and print publishers.

CastTV was a former Internet video search and aggregation company based in San Francisco, California. After the company was acquired by the Tribune Company in 2010, its popular consumer website was closed down and the core technology was used to build various enterprise data products, including Online Video Data, which powers the universal video search for Google, Roku, TiVo, and other online video providers.

CDDB, short for Compact Disc Database, is a database for software applications to look up audio CD information over the Internet. This is performed by a client which calculates a (nearly) unique disc ID and then queries the database. As a result, the client is able to display the artist name, CD title, track list and some additional information. CDDB is a licensed trademark of Gracenote, Inc.

Studio System by Gracenote, formerly known as Baseline StudioSystems, is an American e-commerce company. It was founded in 1982 and licenses its commercial entertainment database, known as Studio System. It is owned by Gracenote, a subsidiary of Nielsen Holdings.

Music information company Gracenote changed its database terms to closed-source in 2001. This caused some controversy because Gracenote's ancestor, CDDB, had previously said its database was released under the GPL.

Peter Liguori is an American business executive who most recently held the position of president and chief executive officer of Tribune Media; he departed the company at the end of March 2017. He was appointed to the positions in January 2013, and is also a member of Tribune Media Company's board of directors. During his tenure, the company acquired Local TV Holdings, LLC, doubling the size of its local television station group, and Gracenote, combining it with Tribune Media Services to form one of the world's leading providers of entertainment metadata.

TMS is an international provider of data for TV and movies. As part of its On Entertainment product line, the company supplies data to companies such as TiVo, Roku, Virgin Media, DIRECTV and Time Warner Cable to enable entertainment guides and applications. In addition, the metadata is used for media measurement and analysis. TMS also produces Zap2it, a social TV hub that connects entertainment fans to popular TV shows, movies, celebrities, and other fans. TMS is a data provider for over 4,000 companies. The company is headquartered in upstate New York.

Automatic content recognition (ACR) is an identification technology to recognize content played on a media device or present in a media file. Devices containing ACR support enable users to quickly obtain additional information about the content they see with any user-based input or search efforts. For example, developers of the application can then provide personalized complementary content to viewers.

David Hyman American entrepreneur (born 1967)

David Hyman is an American entrepreneur. He is the co-founder and CEO of Unagi Scooters, a manufacturer of electric scooters, which launched December 2018. Hyman is also the former CEO of Beats Music, MOG, Gracenote and

Audible Magic

Audible Magic Corporation is a Los Gatos, California-based company that provides content identification services to social networks, record labels, music publishers, television studios, and movie studios. The company also provides digital platform music management services for Internet radio, subscription music services, on-demand streaming, and fitness and gaming applications. The services help companies identify and protect copyrighted content, manage rights and monetize media.