J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
M U S I C M E D I A W A T C H
Commentary on the Week's Music Technology News
Issue No. 23
Wednesday, June 26, 2002
++ FEATURE: Gracenote to Incorporate Waveform Analysis in Music
++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS:
- FullAudio Acquires More Funding
- Toshiba Announces Portable MP3 Player with 5GB Hard Disk
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FEATURE: Gracenote to Incorporate Waveform Analysis in Music
This week, I'd like to diverge a bit from the usual ringtone- and
P2P-related topics that have been the focus of many features so far
and instead provide a brief report on some of the recent happenings at
Gracenote, one of the more progressive companies currently active in
the digital music technology space. Based in Berkeley, California,
Gracenote is perhaps best known for its CDDB music recognition
service, which is widely used in CD players and jukebox applications
to identify song tracks and provide title and artist information.
Last week, Gracenote announced its acquisition of Cantametrix, which
specializes in music waveform analysis and identification, whereby
small digital samples from songs are extracted and stored in a
database. Each sample provides a unique digital 'thumbprint' for a
particular song. An audio player can then use the database to
accurately identify individual tracks, regardless of their audio
source (CD, MD, MP3, streaming audio et cetera) and return relevant
metadata such as artist, release date and copyright information.
Among other things, waveform recognition has the potential to solve
some of the problems currently associated with downloading and
collecting MP3 tracks via P2P file-sharing services. While CD
recognition using TOC matching techniques has progressed to the point
where many players can accurately identify all but the more obscure
tracks and provide important metadata, MP3 recognition is still in a
fairly primitive state. An MP3 player or software application that can
accurately identify and label a song just from the waveform data would
be a welcome step forward.
Also, from the perspective of digital music service providers,
distributors, and others looking to charge for access to music
files, waveform analysis has some immediate benefits. Accurate
identification and tagging of MP3 data could allow reliable download
tracking and filtering to become a reality, without having to resort
to watermarking technologies (which can degrade sound quality). In
addition, the ability to tap into existing databases of related
content allows MP3 providers to expand the size and scope of their
services with a minimal investment of time and effort. Finally,
waveform recognition can be used by audio players or even traditional
analog stereos to provide title/artist info for songs as they are
playing on the radio.
Gracenote's acquisition of Cantametrix is significant because it
allows the company to combine a large database of waveform data with
its existing database of song titles and related information. The
CDDB recognition service is probably the most widely licensed service
of its kind, and can be found in many consumer audio devices and
player/jukebox software applications. AOL/Winamp, Kenwood and Real
Networks all use CDDB as a key feature in their products.
Gracenote has been talking about waveform recognition for
some time now, but this is the biggest step yet taken by the company
to actually add waveform techniques to its strong suite of music
Because Gracenote's main business is licensing music recognition
services to makers of audio devices and software applications, the
company is perhaps not yet quite as visible as some of its
better-known partners. Its database and recognition technologies,
however, have been quietly making their way into a wide variety of
products, and could soon become the rule rather than the exception.
CDDB-support is already a major feature listed for media player
software apps. While comparisons to Dolby sound and Trinitron displays
may be a bit premature yet, it is nonetheless likely that we will be
hearing a lot more from Gracenote in the future.
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NOTEWORTHY NEWS: FullAudio Acquires More Funding
Chicago-based FullAudio announced last week that it was able to raise
$13.5 million in third-round funding. At the same time, the company
also said that it has reached an agreement with Bertelsmann's BMG to
license to license BMG's song catalog through its online music
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NOTEWORTHY NEWS: Toshiba Announces Portable MP3 Player with 5GB Hard
Toshiba Corp has announced the launch of a new portable MP3 player
which will come equipped with a 5GB HDD. Called GIGABEAT, the new MP3
player will feature a detachable PC-card type HDD which can also be
inserted into a Type II PC card slot on a notebook computer. The
retail price for the device is expected to be around 50,000 yen.
SUBSCRIBERS: 796 as of June 26, 2002
Written by: Steve Myers (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Steve Myers heads the Theta Group at Layer-8 Technologies,
which specializes in the development of music-related
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