The Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA) has just announced its IODA Open API, currently in beta. The API offers many of the typical resources that you would expect from a music metadata service, with a few extra goodies like these album attributes: UPC code and primary label. Comparing album API results between IODA Open and iTunes, IODA is packing a lot more information into the response.
IODA includes track level information on the album response such as song duration and musicians. Here's an example showing a few tracks from album API response:
The documentation for IODA's RESTful API is on the popular social coding site github. A PHP implementation of the API is slated for release, but otherwise the IODA Open API is virgin frontier land, ready for prospectors in Ruby, Python, or NodeJS to stake their claim. The response formats offer all you could reasonably ask for from a webservice: JSON, JSONP, XML, YAML, PHP. You’ll need to apply for an API key and agree to follow a few of their rules before they’ll open up their data to you. All API calls require authentication. Attribution is also part of the deal. If you’re using IODA data, give ‘em some props!
IODA is a service provider to the music industry, focusing on digital formats and artist promotion. You might assume that independent means small time, but you'd be wrong in this case. Artists distributed through IODA were nominated for 49 Grammys in 2010, and those nominations were spread across 25 record labels. Another feather in their cap is an investment from mega label Sony Music, add that to their 2 million song catalog and relationships with iTunes, LastFm, and Amazon and you’ve got a serious player.
One aspect that distinguishes this music meta data API from others in the space is that its curated by the labels themselves. The labels have a vested interest in keeping this information about their artists accurate because they are entering it for the purposes of promotion and sales. IODA's move to offer this meta data up to web programmers is another step in a savvy digital promotion strategy.