Ty Roberts

Few can claim the kind of impact on media that Ty Roberts has brought. Merging a passion for technology and music, Ty has truly been a pioneer for all of us.

Ty Roberts

Ty is widely recognized as one of the inventors of enhanced CD technology and is accredited with producing the industry’s first enhanced CDs. He joined Gracenote in November of 1998 after the company acquired ION, a multimedia and music technology company that he founded in 1993. Roberts serves as Gracenote’s chief technology strategist, providing technology direction and overseeing the creation of products and services that leverage the power of the Gracenote database to deliver information services.


While at ION, Roberts produced the recording industry’s first enhanced audio CD titles, including David Bowie’s “Jump” and “Head Candy” from Brian Eno. He was the company’s lead technologist and innovator in adding multimedia content to traditional audio CDs. ION was also widely recognized as a leading provider of enhanced CD production tools utilized by recording and multimedia development companies. In September 1993, Bertlesmann Music Group created the first interactive record label after acquiring a 50 percent interest in ION. Prior to founding ION, Roberts was a founder and senior manager of LightSource, a software development company that produced multimedia and graphics editing software. Previously, he was a senior engineer at Pixar, where he created several award winning, Apple-based music applications including “Studio Session” and “Jam Session.”


Odds are good you are using technology created by Ty and his team. If you insert a CD in your computer or car stereo system and it magically displays the correct track names, album name, and artist name, you are likely utilizing CDDB (“CD database”). CDDB is the largest meta data catalog for music today at over 40 million tracks.


In our time together, Ty discusses the innovations he helped pioneer and looks at today’s technology in light of this history. Can today’s artist connect with the audience in the way that thematic “album rock” of artists like Pink Floyd and connected with earlier generations? At a recent Digital Hollywood panel in Los Angeles, Albhy Galuten of Sony postured that they cannot. While Ty and Albhy worked together at ION, they disagree on this point. Did the Enhanced CD work? Can immersive experiences for the fan be created by artists when today’s fan borders on ADD behavior with a confluence of media regularly barraging them – from XBOX to Nintendo DS to MP3 player to TV to IM and computer? All are often on at the same time. (If you don’t believe me, you need to visit with my son.)


We hope you enjoy our premiere audiocast with Ty Roberts, recorded at The Castle, the historic recording studio located just south of Nashville in Franklin, Tennessee. (Right-click the link and choose ”Save As” to save the audiocast to your machine.)

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