How to Make Money on Music (Data)

Whenever you stick a CD into your computer, the track names, running times and all sorts of other data appears in your player.  This information is NOT stored on the disc itself.  If your computer is connected to the Internet–and really, that’s just about every machine now, innit?–it sends a query to a giant database maintained by a company called Gracenote.

By comparing the number of tracks and the total running time of the disc with music in Gracenote’s libary, your computer is able to almost instantly populate all those fields without you doing a thing.  It doesn’t always work 100%–some discs aren’t in the database or, occassionaly, wrong answers are returned–but it still feels like magic 99% of the time.

Ty Roberts is a co-founder of Gracenote.  Check out this interview conducted at SFMusic Tech earlier this year.  (Via Peter and TechCrunch)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38523 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “How to Make Money on Music (Data)

  • In the interests of full accuracy (as a geek):
    – Gracenote acquired their database and original technology from an originally free equivalent called CDDB (
    – Free versions of this data and type of technology still exist in the form of FreeDB & MusicBrainz.


Let us know what you think!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.