Press Clipping
Writing Wrongs

Robert Singerman, global business
development at DotMusic, has been active
within the lyrics space for over a decade
and is highly enthused about what the
publishing industry can and should do
here. “I’ve been working on giving music
subtitles – or legal lyric translations – for 11
years,” he says. “Through that process and
through working with LyricFind on licensing
international indie publishers for legal lyrics
for the past five, I’ve had the opportunity
and the challenges to experience the
stasis and also the positive changes in the
publishing and performing rights businesses
globally. It’s been extremely interesting and
there is news somewhere almost every day.
Some of it’s even good news.”
A decade ago, lyrics online really
amounted to a sprawling mass of
transcription sites, often replicating each
other’s woefully transliterated song lyrics.
They were often unlicensed so there was little
quality control. Since then, sites like Genius
(formerly Rap Genius) have come along to
not only re-run lyrics but also dissect them.
On top of this, lyrics videos are often the first
way a new pop single is released (often as
a stopgap until the full promo video is shot
and edited together) while music services like
Deezer and Spotify are offering synchronised
lyrics on their players to not only enhance
the user experience but also to increase the
amount of time a user plays music.
“Static lyrics feel like an older technology,”
says Mills of the changing demands that
services now have of lyric services. Beyond
serving as a way to boost listener dwell time,
he says they also have a growing commercial
Music publishing’s biggest challenges

laid bare
3 thereport
function. “Synchronised lyrics are really
important for ad-supported services as they
increase the session time of the user and their
engagement,” he says. “That has a material
impact on ad CPMs.”
He gives the example of this at work
in tracks that mention brands, consumer
products and even places. With these key
words identifiable and taggable within a song,
specific ads can be targeted at the listeners
of the track. In basic terms, if a song mentions
clubbing in Ibiza, ads for flights, hotels and
clubs on the island can be sold around the
listeners to the song. “All of that is powerful
for big data plays,” says Mills. “We like to think
of lyrics at the ultimate metadata.”
To stress the importance of having
clean lyrics, Mills also argues that they
are increasingly important in search and
discovery terms. “We [LyricFind] serve many
billions of lyric impressions every year just
through our API,” he says. “I would say [lyrics
are] the biggest music discovery channel out
there digitally.”
While Mills talks about lyrics as “the ultimate
metadata” and a way to get better and more
targeted ad results, the broader issue of
having clean and detailed metadata is still a
huge problem for the digital music industry
as a whole and the publishing business in
Singerman, however, feels that
consolidation is the real issue here for
everyone. “Perhaps a Merlin licensing and
lobbying for the indie publishers can’t work
as the national publishing organisations
and the PROs have the majors onboard
as [that means] there are balancing, direct
negotiating, market share and leveraging
issues,” he says. “But for the independents,
Merlin has that opt-in representation and
joint lobbying clout as well as being a single
licensing party for a huge number of different
He adds, “I think that part of the problem is
the competition among the PRO institutions
creating consolidation – as some might
not necessarily want solutions to these
problems. Because if and/or when things
are harmonised, then they might feel that
their roles, power, positions and even their
organisations could diminish or even go away,
as licensing and accounting becomes simpler,
or more accurate; [as that happens] conflicts
over black boxes, escrow accounts and
upfront equity deals decrease.”