Apps, Mobile & SMS

Gracenote CTO Ty Roberts Discusses MusicID Live’s Debut At Outside Hacks

Outside-hacksIn conjunction with Outside Lands' official Outside Hacks festival hackathon, Gracenote debuted its alpha stage MusicID Live tech designed to identify songs as they are played at live concerts. Gracenote co-founder and CTO Ty Roberts explained some of the challenges in developing a technology which could become an integral aspect of music apps for future networked festivals.

Ty Roberts, who co-founded Gracenote among other accomplishments, spoke with me late last week about their new MusicID Live technology which may well be a first for music identification.

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Live Music Recognition – Gracenote Developer Demo

Gracenote began with a CD database that included the ability to identify digital music using an audio fingerprint. They've since expanded to other forms of media identification and related services while continuing to develop music services to power a variety of partners' products and apps.

However Gracenote's music recognition tech is based on audio fingerprinting recorded music as the basis for identification. At the recent Outside Hacks festival hackathon, they took their first public steps identifying songs in a live music setting.

The Technology Behind MusicID Live

Gracenote's CTO Ty Roberts described the basic setup for identifying live music which is a bit unwieldy. A console connects the soundboard feed to a computer which also has a setlist for the show and links to artist info. The computer takes the sound, rapidly audio fingerprints each song as it begins and immediately makes song info available in their system for mobile devices.

MusicID Live was put into use at Outside Lands' official hackathon Outside Hacks which took place August 3rd to 4th over the course of 24 hours.

At the Hackathon live concert video was used in the setup which provided the API for initial creations. One app, Wat'son, then included MusicID Live for a show in which one of the bands had the full setup.

Roberts related that the hackathon was an early testing opportunity with much more development to come. The longterm goal is to move away from the manual approach which currently relies on a fixed setlist or a crew member who can update the setlist live.

For established acts who also have to coordinate light shows and tend to go with a fixed setlist, such an arrangement is manageable. But acts such as jambands, whose improvisational sets might include covers as well as originals, introduce numerous challenges that suggest the many difficulties ahead for developing live audio identification.

The Networked Future of Music Festivals

The Outside Hacks event followed the Hackeroo hackathon at Bonnaroo, also organized by CODEMKRS, with a similar approach. An initial hackathon identifies a select group that then go into action at the subsequent festival.

Such hackathons are helping push the festival industry towards a networked future that will allow apps to make full use of MusicID Live. Apps will then be able to build on a baseline identification of the event and location, the artist on stage, the song being played and related information.

Though I didn't discuss monetization opportunities with Roberts, such tech could be used in conjunction with music and merch sales from downloads to on-site purchases. But that's only one possibility for how live music identification could be used in a networked festival setting.


Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.

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