December 23, 2013, 4:11 PM — Sony Corp. of America has agreed to sell its Gracenote music metadata business to the Tribune media conglomerate for US$170 million.
Gracenote maintains a database of music data that's used by streaming media services, mobile apps and in-car entertainment systems for finding and recommending tracks and providing information about them to listeners. Among its better known customers are Apple and Spotify. Tribune plans to combine Gracenote with its own Tribune Media Services (TMS) division, which maintains a similar database about movies and TV shows. Among other uses, TMS's database feeds the program guides of cable operators.
With 550 million look-ups per day and metadata about more than 180 million tracks, Gracenote's database is the largest source of music data in the world, according to Gracenote. The company has also been expanding into video information and provides that to some service providers in Europe.
Gracenote was founded in 1998 as CDDB (Compact Disc Database) and changed its name to Gracenote in 2000. Sony's U.S. business bought the company in 2008. Sony uses Gracenote in its Vaio PCs, Music Unlimited online service and other offerings, and the Tribune acquisition doesn't end those arrangements.
Tribune owns the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, other newspapers, and numerous TV stations. It will acquire all the shares of Gracenote in the deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014. No staff changes are planned following the acquisition, and the approximately 350-person company will stay in its Emeryville, California, headquarters.