August 31 was King of Pop Michael Jackson\u2019s 60th birth anniversary. As MJ\u2019s fans the world over reminisced about their favourite singer and his hit numbers, our social feds were filled with throwbacks. One that topped the list was Thriller, one of the most iconic songs in pop music. As we know, a successful single begets many versions. So is the case with Thriller \u2014 some estimates point to about 27 versions of the song.\r\n\r\nhttps:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?v=4V90AmXnguw\r\n\r\nIf you use a music streaming service such as Apple Music, Google Play, or Saavn, you\u2019re apt to know that these platforms help you find the version you\u2019re looking for with ease.\r\n\r\nBut imagine the overall challenge these music streaming services face since there are millions of tracks that have been produced and reproduced in the world. Cataloguing and indexing them manually could easily take a couple of decades, which makes this task literally impossible. So, how do these companies do it?\r\n\r\nEnter Gracenote\u00a0Global Music Data \u2014 a music and video recognition company that\u2019s helping your favourite music streaming services streamline and index their offerings. Gracenote has built its core business around providing music metadata to record labels and to the likes of Apple, Google, and Spotify. \r\n\r\nIt helps these companies classify and label artists, albums, and recordings through its proprietary ID system that associates the right content with the right artists to enable smarter search and discovery across digital media catalogues.\r\n\r\nThe proprietary ID system built by Gracenote uses a combination of machine learning and editorial supervision to comb through millions of tracks and then link them to the relevant recording artists, actors, and music directors.\r\n\r\nToday, Gracenote has metadata on more than 200Mn tracks, TV listings for over 85 countries like United States, Korea, Japan, Europe, Latin America, Australia, New Zealand and now India , in over 100 Mn smart cars, and statistics from 4,500 sport leagues and competitions across the world.\r\nGracenote: Singing To India\u2019s Tunes \u00a0\r\nThe California-based Gracenote, which was acquired by Nielsen in 2016, has now turned its gaze towards India, launching its first customised offering for the Indian market last month.\r\n\r\nThe company has a editorial team in Mumbai with more than 250 editors. Over the last 18 months, they have been working to develop an India-focussed music catalogue with offerings in languages such as English, Hindi, Punjabi, and Tamil, with more languages slated to be added soon.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe market for digital content is growing as more people in India now have access to an Internet connection and to devices that can stream content. There is a land grab going on among music streaming companies and we want to be part of that expansion,\u201d said Brian Hamilton Hamilton, general manager, Music and Auto, Gracenote, worldwide.\r\n\r\nHamilton, who has been with Gracenote for over 18 years, says that Google Play Music has done a great job of capturing the music app market \u2014 more than 60% of app users use the Google Play Music app \u2014 but competition is intense and every player wants to be ahead in a market that is nascent but has a lot of potential.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nReliance Jio\u2019s disruption of the Indian telecom sector, sparked by radically cheap data plans, has had a profound impact on digital content consumption in India, as can be seen from the sharp rise in data usage and vernacular content online. Music is no exception.\r\n\r\nAlthough Google holds the number one spot when it comes to music app downloads (how many of these subscribers use the paid version of the app is not clear), Jio\u2019s acquisition of music-streaming portal Saavn in a $1 billion-plus deal is heating up competition for Google. \r\n\r\nConsidering the size of the population that\u2019s accessing content online, native music streaming services such as Gaana and Saavn have raised money from big investors such as Tiger Global and Tencent, respectively, with Spotify also set to enter the Indian market early next next year. \r\n\r\nIndians, on a average, now spend 20 hours every week listening to music, according to India Music 360 report published by Nielsen this year.\r\n\r\nAdditionally, India has a large diaspora of people living outside the country, many of whom listen to Bollywood music. The number is set to increase with many such music streaming companies servicing the market with their global offerings.\r\n\r\nGracenote aims to further fuel this growth and is in talks to providing its Indian music metadata offering to music streaming services and record labels such as SaReGaGaMa, Sony India, and Universal India.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nHamilton put further stock in the fact that revenues from the recording and music publishing segment in India are growing significantly for the first time in many years and, in the next five years, one can expect to see a very robust digital music market take shape in the country. \r\n\r\nGracenote has had a presence in India since its 2014 acquisition of What\u2019s-On India, a provider of metadata covering TV shows and movies, but this is the first time it is bringing its music metadata service to the country. \r\nGracenote: The Detergent Effect \r\n\u201cIt\u2019s like how detergent is for your clothes,\u201d is how Hamilton crudely describes what Gracenote does, as he says that the company gets its music data feeds much in the same way as Apple gets its feed from record labels and aggregators of independent record labels. \r\n\r\nHamilton explains that the data delivered to Gracenote is not in a good condition or well-organised \u2014 duplications abound, accompanied by spelling errors that fragment music collections.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nGracenote uses machine learning and AI to go through millions of music catalogues \u2014 a task that would take years if done manually. Hamilton cites online radio service Pandora as an example, which has spent 14-15 years cataloging without AI and has been able to scale to only a million tracks till date.\r\n\r\nGracenote, which was founded in 1995, became one of the world\u2019s first crowd-sourced database, which powered compact disc recognition in the earliest versions of Apple\u2019s groundbreaking iTunes service and iPod.\r\n\r\nWhat has worked for the company over the years is that it has kept up with the times and evolved its business by diversifying into servicing connected cars and helping with TV searches and listings (basically, helping you find out what time the football game starts on your television).\r\n\r\nBut, Gracenote\u2019s core focus of enabling search and discovery of music hasn\u2019t changed. \r\nGracenote Wants Music Streaming To Be On Fast Forward \r\nAccording to a KPMG report published in 2015, India\u2019s recorded music business was set to nearly double over the next five years, led by digital, bringing in an total annual income of INR 18.9 Bn (US $300m) in 2019.\r\n\r\nCreating value in this market is critical and Gracenote wants to play a pivotal role in doing that.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u201cFor the most part, Gracenote does not have global competitors in providing music metadata. We've found that regional streaming services have developed their own homegrown solutions \u00a0to help structure and manage enormous amounts of music data. Gracenote Global Music Data has unmatched depth, breadth, and structure, and, most importantly, interconnectivity, which enables next-generation universal and cross-media search,\u201d said \u00a0Tom Retigg, vice-president of product, Music, at Gracenote.\r\n\r\nGracenote derives its philosophy from the belief that a consumer needs to see the value of discovery and creation of customised playlists, because there is no value she is gaining if she is just playing the Top 10 songs that can accessed from anywhere everywhere. \r\n\r\n\u201cTo go down deep into this 30 Mn-plus catalogue and help people feel excited to discover music in innovative ways...this is something that we want to provide solutions for,\u201d said Hamilton. \r\n\r\nAs such, India represents a lucrative market where unheard of growth is not a mere statement but a possibility. In a report last year, Forbes called India the global music industry's \u201csleeping giant\u201d, which is finally waking up.\r\n\r\nGracenote is hoping to be there when the sleeping giant wakes up and smells the coffee.