Ap­ple Mu­sic lyrics smarten up with Ge­nius

Stream­ing ser­vice to dis­play lyrics drawn from the pop­u­lar on­line mu­sic en­cy­clo­pe­dia

The Hamilton Spectator - - Business - ANNE STEELE

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.

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