Apple Music lyrics smarten up with Genius
Streaming service to display lyrics drawn from the popular online music encyclopedia
Apple Music is about to get a little better with words.
The No. 2 music-streaming service world-wide will now display lyrics drawn from popular online music encyclopedia Genius. Under the same agreement, Apple Inc.’s music service also becomes the exclusive Web player for Genius in a deal that could help drive more subscribers to the service.
Genius began as a site for hiphop fans to provide annotations and interpretations of songs but has become a trusted online resource for lyrics in numerous genres. The deal, whose terms weren’t disclosed, is the latest partnership for Apple Music as it looks for ways to draw more paying customers to its service. The company in August began offering six months of its music service free to Verizon Communications Inc. customers, and it has recently spent heavily on marketing, including TV ads in the U.S. during National Football League games.
Apple Music subscribers checking out lyrics on Genius’s website or app are now able to play any song in full from the song page. Fans who aren’t subscribers will get a 30-second song preview and then a prompt to subscribe to listen in full.
With Genius reaching more than 100 million unique visitors each month—73% of whom don’t currently pay for a music subscription, according to comScore—the potential new audience for Apple is significant.
The deal is also likely to be welcomed by fans and artists, who have frequently highlighted inaccuracies in Apple Music’s lyrics offerings, which can be displayed for many but not all songs on the service. The company hasn’t disclosed details on how it has sourced its lyrics until now, but it has previously posted job openings for a team of lyrics curators.
In August, the National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Suns tweeted at Apple Music a flub in the lyrics listed for Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode.” A line in which Drake raps, “See the shots that I took, wet like I’m Book”—a reference to Suns shooting guard Devin Booker—Apple had written as “Wet, like I’m booked.”
In January, Hayley Williams from rock band Paramore responded to a confused fan on Twitter asking about lyrics for her song “Rose-Colored Boy”: “apple music got a lot of my lyrics wrong but im not mad just disappointed. @Genius is typically correct, if yall ever need.”
Both instances have since been corrected on Apple Music.
“We’ve been hearing a lot from fans of both Genius and Apple Music that they’ve wanted us to work together,” said Genius chief strategy officer Ben Gross. Genius, incorporated as Genius Media Group Inc., began in 2009 as Rap Genius. It has since expanded beyond both rap and lyrics, producing video series and live events and allowing artists to share notes about the creation of their music across genres. Artists from Chance the Rapper and Eminem to Camila Cabello, Cardi B and Lin-Manuel Miranda annotate their songs and engage with fans on the site. The lyrics on Genius are generated in a format similar to Wikipedia’s. Most are transcribed by fans supervised by a small “community staff” of full-time employees who grant and take away editing privileges and moderate disputes. Lyrics and commentary provided by verified artists are marked with a badge.
Genius has partnered with Spotify Technology SA since 2016 for the service’s Behind the Lyrics feature, which offers some lyrics and music trivia for around 3,500 songs, out of tens of millions total on the service. That was the same year Spotify ended its relationship with Musixmatch, which had been supplying its lyrics service; Spotify doesn’t currently offer lyrics for the majority of its catalog.