Opening Millions of Songs in its Database

Gracenote has unleashed its massive database of information on more than 100 million tracks, creating a sandbox of lyrics, artist bios and metadata in a bid to tap into the creative juices of developers around the globe.

"The point is to facilitate more innovation in this space," Gracenote president Stephen White says of the company's decision to release an application programming interface, or API. "To the extent that these guys figure out their next $100 million, they can come back and work with us." Gracenote--along with Rdio, the Echo Nest, Spotify, SoundCloud and other tech companies--provided APIs for the developers who participated in SF Music Tech Summit's Music Hack Day. The result: A medley of 66 hacks that range from wonderfully bizarre to utilitarian and even commercially viable.

The Bonhamizer, for example, uses the Echo Nest API to reinterpret any song to sound as if Led Zeppelin's John Bonham is the drummer. Another app, Drive My Playlist, plugs into Ford Motor's Open Developer program to create playlists based on what the driver is doing. For example, hitting 55 miles per hour will trigger the Beach Boys' "Little Deuce Coup," while turning on the high beams plays Madonna's "Ray of Light."

Other hacks use social data to drive the music experience. Beatboard pulls data from Gracenote and the Web to bring up news articles, bios and images about artists, synchronized with the beat of the song being played. MixedTweets combines streaming music services with Twitter to play the tunes that friends are tweeting about. One potentially useful social app, Soundvine, lets users mix audio with their Vine videoclips. And for the music geek who has everything, there's Mugatu, a playable piano necktie.