New head unit interfaces will be powered by Gracenote®, a leading global provider of music and video metadata and automatic content recognition (ACR) technologies, through a common platform which combines all of the different music sources within the car’s head unit.

The integration will be provided through a common platform which combines all of the different music so" />

Issue: Apr 2015


A common interface for online and offline music sources



by James Hilton

New head unit interfaces will be powered by Gracenote®, a leading global provider of music and video metadata and automatic content recognition (ACR) technologies, through a common platform which combines all of the different music sources within the car’s head unit.

The integration will be provided through a common platform which combines all of the different music sources within the car’s head unit by Gracenote®, a leading global provider of music and video metadata and automatic content recognition (ACR) technologies. According to Gracenote demand for in-car music and audio has grown tremendously over the last few years. Beyond AM/FM radio, CDs and satellite radio, consumers are now listening to their favorite artists and tracks on subscriptionbased streaming music services, Internet radio services as well as downloaded music stored locally on their devices. The dizzying amount of choice and feature sets creates technical challenges for OEMs. Gracenote Entourage Radio™ will enable drivers to link their musical experience from traditional radio to their favorite streaming music services through a consistent user interface, regardless of the source. It will also deliver high quality metadata to the car’s display.

“The arrival of the connected car is pushing the automotive industry to think about the musical journey in a very different way,” says Ty Roberts, chief strategy officer and co-founder of Gracenote. “With Entourage Radio we’re adding an intelligent layer that helps identify what songs are being played and the source. Once you identify what a driver is listening to and when, you can create entirely new experiences across multiple music sources from AM/FM radio and streaming to local music collections stored on a device.”

Gracenote Entourage™ enables continuous audio finger¬printing to provide real-time music recognition in the car. Upon recognition, Gracenote is able to deliver relevant information directly to the automotive display. This includes song, artist, and album information, cover art as well as terrestrial radio sta¬tion logos. By interacting with the car’s head unit, listeners can also take advantage of a host of advanced features such as music recommendations based on song mood, genre and era and one-touch playlist creation and editing based on “seed” songs or artists.

For global automotive manufacturers, Entourage Radio allows them to ship vehicles worldwide knowing that their infotainment systems will work with and easily link to popular regional music streaming services.

For more than a decade, Gracenote has worked with automakers and suppliers to pioneer in-car entertainment, starting with first generation audio systems which were able to identify CDs, to delivering metadata and cover art, one-touch playlisting and “hands-free” voice recognition of music. Today, Gracenote powers more than 65 million cars and helps drivers identify and connect with the songs and artists they love across leading  automotive platforms, including Ford Sync and Chevy MyLink to Toyota Entune and Hyundai BlueLink.

In 2014, Gracenote was acquired by Tribune Media Company, the largest independent broadcast group in the U.S. Recognizing the value of metadata and the role it will play in powering nextgen digital entertainment experiences, Tribune made several acquisitions to expand its global footprint and deepen its core dataset. This immediately resulted in a global music, TV and movie metadata powerhouse with the scale to serve top-tier automakers, pay-TV providers, music services and consumer electronics manufacturers around the world.

“After the acquisition by Tribune, Gracenote has emerged as a driving force in entertainment data, serving as the backbone for many of the most important music and TV services and products today,” said John Batter, Gracenote’s Chief Executive Officer. “As more cars and devices become connected and personalized to users, the importance of Gracenote’s metadata is clear.”

Automotive Industries (AI) asked Brian Hamilton, General Manager of Auto, Gracenote, what makes Entourage Radio unique in the IVI eco-sphere?

Hamilton: This is the first time Gracenote is putting its awardwinning automatic content recognition (ACR) technology, called Gracenote Entourage, directly into the auto head unit for real-time music recognition.

By putting the technology directly into the car, Gracenote can identify the song that is being played regardless of the music source. Tapping into its database of descriptive information for more than 200 million songs, Gracenote can serve up the right metadata and cover art to deliver a consistent experience across AM/FM radio, satellite and HD radio, CDs, streaming music services, Internet radio services as well as downloaded music stored locally on the device.

In addition to creating a seamless music experience for consumers, Gracenote’s connected music solution also solves one of the greatest challenges for global automotive manufacturers - fragmentation of entertainment services by market. While one popular music streaming service is available in the United States, it may not be available in other international markets.

Gracenote’s vast catalogue of song IDs for streaming services will give automakers the flexibility to easily link drivers to their regional streaming music services. Automakers may also choose to leverage Gracenote Rhythm™, its music discovery platform, to enable automatic playlisting within a local library.

AI: What kind of platform does Entourage Radio hope to be in terms of streaming metadata from various sources onto a consistent user interface?

Hamilton: Gracenote will help create a common platform to unify all of the various music sources within the car’s head unit and enable automakers to bridge online and offline music sources for a safer listening experience.

Entourage Radio is OS and processor agnostic which makes it a truly universal infotainment platform. By identifying the audio source in real-time, Gracenote can provide the correct song, artist and album information, deliver relevant cover art as well as station logos to the automotive display. This allows automakers to provide a consistent visual experience across all music sources. Entourage Radio serves as a jump-off point. Once a song is recognized, listeners can command through the car’s head unit to play songs that are similar in genre, mood and era, play additional songs from the specific artist or add to an existing playlist within their favorite streaming music service.

AI: How does Gracenote hope to further tweak the technology in the future?

Hamilton: Entourage Radio is a flexible, future-proof platform that delivers on the promise of today’s infotainment systems, but is also positioned for tomorrow’s entertainment needs. The next iteration will help personalize the FM radio experience by tapping into a driver’s musical listening habits and tastes to automatically assign radio stations as they move between cities and regions. Gracenote will add a layer of intelligence to the terrestrial radio experience. Once you understand the song that is being played, you can enhance the experience by automatically adjusting audio equalization to match the genre of the music. For instance, as a driver switches between Metallica and Eminem albums, Gracenote recognition technology and metadata can be used to identify the track and genre and make the necessary equalizer adjustments. In this case, the EQ would be adjusted for hip-hop with higher bass and lower treble settings.



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