Music Business

Rap Genius Among 50 Sites Targeted For Takedown By Music Publishers Assoc

image from www.darkgovernment.comRap Genius was among 50 top sites sent takedown notices yesterday by the  National Music Publishers' Association.  Many of the sites, which the NMPA targeted for unlicensed lyrics, have been online for years,. But the trade group says yesterday's action was motivated by the work of Cracker frontman and University of Georgia researcher David Lowery who has published several studies listing top unlicensed lyric sites.

image from i.i.cbsi.comLowery's studies show top unlicensed lyric sites profiting from ad revenue, but songwriters whose lyrics are available on the sites receive no compensation.  "Unlicensed lyric sites are largely ignored as copyright infringers, but in fact these sites generate huge web traffic and involve more money than one might think," said Lowery. "The lyric business is clearly more valuable in the Internet age."

 "This is not a campaign against personal blogs, fan sites, or the many websites that provide lyrics legally" said NMPA president and CEO David Israelite. "NMPA is targeting fifty sites that engage in blatant illegal behavior, which significantly impacts songwriters' ability to make a living."

Rap Genius Responds

image from on Lowery's offender list was Rap Genius, which last year received a $145 million investment from prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.  Responding indirectly to the NMPA takedown notice, co-founder Ilan Zechory countered that Rap Genius actually adds value to lyrics with their verified annotations. “The lyrics sites the N.M.P.A. refers to simply display song lyrics, while Rap Genius has crowdsourced annotations that give context to all the lyrics line by line, and tens of thousands of verified annotations directly from writers and performers," he siad in a statement. "These layers of context and meaning transform a static, flat lyric page into an interactive, vibrant art experience created by a community of volunteer scholars.”

Braoder Implications For Music Tech Investement

According to comScore, 5.3 million unique US visitor viewed lyrics on Rap Genius.  That kind of traffic was bound to attract first Lowery and now the NMPA's attention.  And yesterday's takedown notices are exactly the kind of legal quagmire that scares away investors from music and music tech startups. 

Here is a full list of the 50 sites.

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  1. “Rap Genius, which last year received a $145 million investment from prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.”
    $15 million, believe there’s a typo.

  2. As with any other unlicensed media service, if the problem is really just that the wrong people are making money off of the unauthorized content, the solution seems obvious to me. Just authorize it—problem solved with the stroke of a pen!
    The terms of the license can be that the sites must post accurate content (which you supply), and they have to provide you with regular revenue & traffic reports. In exchange, you’ll set rates reasonable enough so that they can stay in business and keep the money flowing in. You don’t even have to do any of the website work yourself. End result is you get a nice cut of the service provider’s truckloads of money, for very little administrative or technological effort.
    However I don’t think the problem is really what Lowery and the industry say it is. If it were only about who’s getting money, it would be sufficient to split the service provider’s profit with the legitimate content provider. No, this has very little to do with who is getting paid. It is about control and relevance.

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