Yahoo and Gracenote: Lyrical Gangstas


Gracenote and Yahoo just announced a partnership that could bring legal (and accurate) lyrics to the digital world. The deal initially includes North American rights to about 400,000 songs, from all of the biggest publishers: EMI Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Bertelsmann AG's BMG Music Publishing, Vivendi's Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing (which Reuters points out is jointly owned by Sony Corp. and Michael Jackson) and online publisher peermusic.

Well glory be. It's about time somebody made a deal like this, because when I want lyrics, I go to the Web, but usually I'm confined to a dicey site that ends in .ru. Given the sorry state of lyrics on line these days, when I find my song, I always need to fact-check it for blatant, sometimes hilarious errors (see Steve Miller Band's "Big Old Jed and the Rhino" and other gems at The Archive of Misheard Lyrics). The reason isn't that I am eager to "steal" access to the lyrics. It's that, being a digital music consumer, I no longer get lyrics free with my purchase. In the big transition, the lyrics that used to be printed in every CD booklet somehow disappeared. (We love you, Steve, but you know this is your fault!)

So far so good, but read on for the moment of skepticism you knew was coming.

According to Reuters, Gracenote says that within 10 years, the lyrics will bring in $100 million in annual revenues "as the market expands with new opportunities like online subscriptions, downloads and automotive distribution deals."

So either I have to pay extra for lyrics, or my subscription service has to pay extra, then somehow recoup the loss through advertising? We'll see how this unfolds. I'm particularly interested in how the new market for lyrics will manifest itself in "automotive distribution deals." Keep your eyes on the road, BeatlesFan4432!!

Yahoo, Gracenote launch lyrics service [Reuters]
Yahoo expands its online music section [USA Today]