The International Herald Tribune article: The End User: Sounding new notes, offers a brief but interesting
profile of a music information database that you've likely tapped when you enter a CD into a CD player or download a track. The database comes from a California company named Gracenote. For example, one of the services they provide is the song/track data when you're CD player says it's accessing the CDDB which now goes by the name, Gracenote Media Database.
From the article:
The company, based in Emeryville, California, is eight years old, but it has come of age only in the recent explosion of digital music. Jim Hollingsworth, senior vice president, said the company doubled its business last year alone. At last count, 150 million individuals worldwide had used the service, for a total of about six billion database searches.
Most of Gracenote's revenue comes by licensing access to its database and a growing number of other services to many online music services and hardware providers.
Gracenote sells its database not to consumers but to businesses. Its clients include software makers like Apple Computer and RealNetworks, consumer electronics companies like Sony and Panasonic and car companies like Toyota and Honda. This year, it is pushing into the mobile phone area.
The Database Itself
+ Info about 55 million tracks and over 4 million CDs, Users in Over 200 Countries and Territories, 8 million audio waveform fingerprints, 17 thousand DVD titles.
+ Data comes from "music afficianados" who enter track and CD info along with info provided directly by music labels.
The article also talks about new Gracenote services like Gracenote Playlist that helps a listener find "related" tracks based on categorization metadata (over 200 categories) that is cataloged with each track. Then in some situations the consumer is provided with a link to purchase the track.
Another service coming soon is called Gracenote Discover that will offer recommendations about specific tracks, albums, and artists.
In a phased roll-out, Discover will generate recommendations based on the integration of three different types of analysis: music expert editorial, audio attributes derived from digital signal processing (DSP) and community-based preferences.
Another music recommendation service leveraging metadata created by music experts (and a service I'm addicted to) is Pandora. It's in beta right now and something that IMHO is more than worth a look and listen. Highly addictive. For more of a "community approach" to music recommendations, Last.fm is one of the many services doing this type of thing.
Gracenote also offers voice-controlled navigation, streaming audio recognition that aimed at the mobile market since more and more music is becoming accessible via live streams direct to mobile phones and devices. For example, I use software called Pocket-Tunes that allows me to stream to my Treo any station that offers an MP3 stream. For example, all Shoutcast stations offer MP3 streams.
Free Search Services on the Gracenote Web Site
Gracenote offers a free and basic track info database on its public web site. You can also find their Digital Top Ten index that provides a list (updated weekly) that represents, "most played albums on the Internet, aggregated weekly for almost 30 million listeners worldwide using Gracenote Media Recognition Service."
A basic search on the Gracenote web site database allows you to search by:
Of course, other music info databases (that likely license Gracenote data) like Yahoo Audio Search, Google Music Search, and Allmusic.com
offer a variety of music info and much more. GoFish offers a lyrics search tool. An AJ "Smart Answer" combines info and links from various sources into a single location.