Tribune Buys Sony’s Gracenote Music-Data Unit for $170 Mil

Company to fold music metadata provider into Tribune Media Services

Tribune Co. announced a pact to buy Sony Corp. of America’s Gracenote music metadata division for $170 million.

Variety reported earlier this year that Sony put Gracenote on the block, as part of the company’s strategy to revitalize its consumer-electronics businesses by divesting non-core assets. The Japanese conglom sold its stake in game and e-commerce company DeNa to Nomura Securities in March.

Tribune said it plans to combine Gracenote with Tribune Media Services (TMS), a provider of TV and movie metadata provider whose primary competitor is Rovi. Tribune’s acquisition of Gracenote is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014 following regulatory approvals.

Sony had acquired Gracenote in 2008 for approximately $260 million. One of the chief uses of the Gracenote database is to identify CDs users rip on their computers with Apple’s iTunes and other applications and then populate the track listings and other info.

“This transaction extends and complements TMS’s best-in-class core competency in the metadata business, while also deepening Tribune’s slate of subscription services,” Tribune president and CEO Peter Liguori said in announcing the pact.

Tribune, meanwhile, is in the midst of a strategic shift of its own to focus on the TV biz. The company in July announced plans to spin off its newspapers — including the namesake Chicago Tribune and the L.A. Times — into a separate company. And last week, the FCC approved Tribune’s $2.7 billion deal to acquire 19 stations in 16 markets from Local TV Holdings to nearly double its broadcast television footprint.

Gracenote, based in Emeryville, Calif., provides music and video content and technologies to entertainment products and brands worldwide. Its music and video database covers more than 180 million songs and listing for some 1 million TV shows and movies for 30 countries, reaching more than 1 billion smartphones and tablets, according to the company.