Gracenote gets behind the wheel with unified music dashboard for car listening

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Gracenote announced the launch of a new platform that will enter the increasingly crowded space of connected car dashboards. The product is called Entourage Radio, and it will connect music sources including AM/FM radio and streaming platforms in a single interface. Thanks to Gracenote’s library of music metadata, Entourage offers real-time identification of audio sources.

“With Entourage Radio, we’re adding an intelligent layer that helps identify what songs are being played and the source,” Gracenote’s cofounder and Chief Strategy Officer Ty Roberts said. “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.”

The “entirely new experiences” is an intriguing point of differentiation. According to the press release: “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.”

This capability makes Entourage a music ecosystem, more than its core function of unifying many external music sources in the car. Gracenote’s music-identification database positions the company to compete with Shazam and SoundHound in the song-ID space, and like those two apps Entourage will connect users to their favorite services and create new music experiences within them.

The unification part is key, too. Cutting down on music fragmentation by offering a single unified place for listening is a boon for listeners. At RAIN Summit Europe last week, Simon Cole, CEO of 7digital, evangelized a theoretical “Entertain Me” button which would solve the confusion of multiple services and platforms. Reducing “platformism,” is an important emerging line of thought in the streaming industry, as competing ecosystems force users to figure out where programming resides, instead of just what the best programming is.

Gracenote Entourage is slated to become available starting in 2017 car models.

Anna Washenko