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For other uses, see Grace note (disambiguation).
Gracenote, Inc.
Founded 1998
Headquarters Emeryville, California, U.S.
Products Acoustic fingerprinting
Number of employees
1500+ (2014)
Parent Tribune Media

Gracenote, formerly CDDB (Compact Disc Data Base), is a company that 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 are capable of playing CDs, for example Media Go and iTunes, use 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[citation needed]. Redevelopment of Winamp continues by its new owner Radionomy who have said that future Winamp versions will have access to an online music database.[1]


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 US$260 million.[2] The acquisition was completed on June 2, 2008.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5][6]

On June 12, 2014, Tribune Media Services merged with Gracenote to form one company under the Gracenote name.[7]


In addition to its CD track-identification system, Gracenote operates a digital file identification service which allows digital music files (such as MP3s) to be identified, and a media management service for the generation of playlists, and recommendation of music.

Gracenote offers a number of products, including MusicID, Mobile MusicID, Music Enrichment, Discover, Playlist, Playlist Plus, Media VOCS, Classical Music Initiative, and Link. In April 2007, Gracenote launched the first[8] legal lyrics offering in the U.S.

In January 2014, Gracenote announced Rhythm, a new white label service that will allow companies to build online radio services with a recommendation engine.[9][10]


iTunes, Media Go and Sonicstage all use Gracenote's CD track identification services.[11][12][13]

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[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Winamp Official Forum
  2. ^ Gracenote News: Sony Corporation of America to Acquire Gracenote[dead link]
  3. ^ Sony Corporation of America Completes Gracenote Acquisition Archived May 16, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Cohen, Noam (2010-10-03). "Obsessions With Minutiae Thrive as Databases". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-04. 
  5. ^ "Tribune Closes $170 Mil Cash Deal to Acquire Sony’s Gracenote". Variety. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "Tribune Buys Gracenote From Sony". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 January 2015. 
  7. ^ Michelle Clancy. "Tribune to merge Media Services into Gracenote operations". Rapid TV News. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "MetroLyrics get Authorized". Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  9. ^ "Gracenote unveils new Internet radio technology". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  10. ^ "Gracenote to Help Launch Music Services". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 5 January 2014. 
  11. ^ "How iTunes remembers audio CDs". iTunes KB. 
  12. ^ "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  line feed character in |quote= at position 19 (help)
  13. ^ "Local Music Files". Spotify. Thanks to our collaboration with the good people at Gracenote®, your MP3s can be made whole again. 
  14. ^ "Google Play Legal Information". Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  15. ^ For more information, see Samsung Music Center: Samsung Multimedia Manager
  16. ^ "Official: Sony and Ericsson are divorced". Retrieved 5 June 2015. 

External links[edit]