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Sony has bought Gracenote, an Emeryville, Calif.-based company that among other things owns the database of albums, artist names and song titles used to identify music in digital media services like Apple’s iTunes.

The sale price is $260 million plus other compensation based on future performance; the deal is expected to officially close in late May. Gracenote had previously received around $50 million in funding from Sequoia Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, and others.

Formerly known as CDDB, Gracenote provides a range of data-related services for digital music, including ways for recommending related songs to users, but its not yet clear what Sony will do with its new property. The clues so far are pretty vague. From the press release about the sale:

“Gracenote is a global leader in technology and services for digital media identification, enrichment, and recommendation, and these capabilities will be essential to the next wave of innovation in content, services, and consumer electronics,” according to Tim Schaaff, a Sony vice president. “Sony sees tremendous growth potential in developing Gracenote as a separately run business unit, and by broadly embracing Gracenote’s platforms, Sony expects to significantly enhance and accelerate its own digital content, service, and device initiatives.”

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