Musixmatch provides licensed lyric features to the likes of Google, Apple Music, Amazon and Instagram, having deals in place with over 10,000 publishers globally. It also has direct relationships with over 1m artists who are verified on the platform through their labels, their publishers or even directly.
Hot on the heels of the announcement that Musixmatch will be powering a new integration with Spotify to showcase time-synced lyrics in 26 countries, Music Ally looks at why the platform should be a key item in any artist’s marketing arsenal.
Over the past two decades, the CD booklet has slowly become an anachronism, but high volumes of lyric searches online show there is a need for them to live somewhere. Plus, as many sites are unlicensed, there is a monetisation opportunity in waiting here.
Musixmatch founder Max Ciciola says, “Words are really powerful because they create a connection to the artist. We’re connected to a song because of the words. That song generates some feelings and we remember a song that makes us happy or unhappy. It’s not only a feeling but also a context. We call lyrics the UI of music. The music itself is just a play button you press, but lyrics mean the eyes are on the screen.”
Musixmatch is not only a content provider, but it also administers and aggregates all royalties on behalf of publishers and songwriters. After having raised €14m in venture capital money, the company has developed a backend that allows for a proper payment system.
Another key aspect of Musixmatch is its focus on community, which helps it to scale and differentiates it from other lyric providers like Genius, which are much more consumer-facing and do not license the data side of things.
On Musixmatch, any music fan can create an account and start transcribing, verifying and translating lyrics. Upon joining, users will be classified as a Newbie but will be able to move up the ranks by becoming an Insider, a Master, a Hero and finally a King by contributing to the catalogue in a quality manner. Eventually, they can even earn money for their contributions.
Musixmatch is effectively gamifying the creation of lyrics, with selected Community members being invited to the recently launched Musixmatch Academy. The company has built a training programme for those music fans to become certified curators – as Trainee, Curator or Specialist.
“In order to invest more and more into the content quality and to build more curators, we built an academy which explains how they need to build the content,” says Ciciola. “For instance, the content needs to be fully transcribed. We don’t allow users to copy and paste from Genius, for example. We are exactly like Uber, which is investing in and finding the best drivers; the more drivers we have, the more we can build proper content.”
While all of the initial input is done by fans and certified curators, Musixmatch has built a third layer on top of its content supply chain. The company now has more than 30 multilingual content managers in its office who proofread lyrics and their translations and add new releases based on clients’ requests. On top of that, they also use AI and machine learning in order to double-check all entries and to ensure that lyrics are properly time-synced.
By going onto the Musixmatch website and claiming an artist profile, artists and their representatives will be able to fast-track the verification of their lyrics. Any lyrics that are being added/edited and synced using the verified account will be shown as the official lyrics on Musixmatch. Labels will also be able to create a verified artist account to manage all the artists on their roster.
You have two options to add lyrics to an artist’s song:
1) On the Musixmatch website, you can add static lyrics. These won’t be displayed on Instagram or Spotify, but are searchable on Apple Music, Alexa and more.
2) Download the Musixmatch mobile or desktop app to add time-synced lyrics which will be displayed on Instagram and Spotify.
All uploads will have to adhere to the Musixmatch writing guidelines.
So why is it so important to have an artist’s lyrics uploaded to a service like Musixmatch?
The first reason is search and discoverability. As Ciciola points out, fans often forget the name of a song but may remember some of the lyrics. “The Apple Music search integration in lyrics launched one year ago and it’s one of the features that has been best received by fans,” he says. “For example, if we look at the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell – everyone was searching for ‘because I’m happy’, but you won’t get any results [without the lyrics being in the database].”
This is also in line with TikTok’s impact on the record business, which has recently seen some labels changing or adapting their track titles in line with what listeners were searching for based on the 15-second snippets used on the platform.
The growing voice market adds even more urgency to this. Amazon Music has recently launched its Amazon Music for Artists app, allowing us to see for the first time analytics for voice requests using its Alexa voice technology. Having time-synced information on Musixmatch will allow the voice assistant to know which words have been played inside the song.
Another reason for the importance of lyrics is fan engagement. Ciciola says, “It builds a completely different playing experience. Because it’s not about putting headphones on and just listening to the song, it’s about reading the song. That makes it really engaging. Typically, what you were seeing is just cover art and a play bar – so the artist definitely benefits in terms of the number of playing events. It’s part of the artist experience.”
As such, time-synced lyrics are another tool for the industry to tackle the more passive artist/fan relationship on streaming services. With very few tools available for artist branding and fan engagement, lyrics can take the listener outside of the passive playlist experience and drive more active engagement with the artist similar to how the Canvas feature on Spotify has been proven to increase saves and profile visits.
The major competitor of Musixmatch is LyricFind. Indeed, they both share some clients, notably Amazon and Google. LyricFind doesn’t have the same community of contributors as Musixmatch, which makes it a little less accessible – but it does drive additional revenues for the industry through licensed lyric merchandise.
However, Musixmatch already has its eyes on a new revenue frontier. The company is using its AI capabilities to do sentiment analysis, automatically detecting if a song is, say, happy or unhappy based on what is written. This is a new and interesting approach because music TOOLS recognition systems have always tended to be about audio, like a Discover Weekly which mostly depends on the audio side.
According to Ciciola, the company is very interested in entering the fitness market. “Think about Peloton,” he says. “You might need the rights and the proper track for a workout based on what you’re doing; it needs to match the energy and power whether you’re doing yoga, meditation or cycling. We are building that layer of information to provide the right song. We’re able, from inside the song, to find the right snippet based on certain criteria. If you’re doing a workout and you have part of the workout where you have 40 seconds of really high intensity, you need exactly that part of the song to have the perfect beat rate but also the right lyrics.”
The potential for licensed lyrics is likely to grow exponentially in the future, showcasing why artists should get up to speed with Musixmatch now.