When you slip a CD in your computer, all the fields displayed by your audio player/ripper–track number, artist, title, album, time and so on–are automatically filled in. This information is not encoded on the disc; your computer heads out onto the Interwebs and queries a database called Gracenote.
Gracenote first appeared in 1998 when it was called CDDB (Compact Disc Database). By comparing the number of tracks on a CD to its total running time, Gracenote can make a pretty accurate guess about which CD is in your machine. Ninety-seven times out of a hundred, it’s correct. It asks for you to make a choice 1% 1 of the time, wrong another percent and baffled for the remainder.
I can’t imagine not having a database like Gracenote. This thing has saved people millions of hours of data entry time.
But just like everything else that deals with physical media, Gracenote isn’t doing as well as it once did. This week, their masters at Sony sold the company to the Tribune Company for $170 million, which is $70 million less than they paid for it in 2008. Tribune wants to expand the use of Gracenotes metadata capabilities deeper into television.
There’s also a plan afoot for Gracenote to get more involved in terrestrial radio. Go to GigaOm for all the details on that.
(Thanks to Peter for the link.)