Yahoo Launches First Legal Lyrics Site

Yahoo! Music on Tuesday is launching the first legitimate repository for song lyrics thanks to a licensing deal with Gracenote, the company behind CDDB. Lyrics for 400,000 songs from the five major record labels and more will initially be available.

While lyrics have long been available on the Web, with some sites boasting libraries even larger than Yahoo's, this is the first official effort, which required deals with nearly 100 music publishers. Current illegitimate lyric sites also contain many errors, and tend to make money through spyware and other questionable advertising methods.

"The highly fragmented music publishing industry (not record companies) owns the right to publish lyrics and has been very slow to pull together and bless a way of legally distributing them on the Internet. As a result, lyrics have been relegated to rogue sites riddled with popup ads, inconsistent formatting, and often incorrect transcriptions," remarked Ian Rogers, general manager of Yahoo! Music.

Gracenote has been working to build its lyric library for more than two years, and the deal with Yahoo is the first time it is being made available to consumers free of charge. BMG, EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner have all opened their catalogs to Gracenote, along with dozens of independent music publishers.

Yahoo planned to create its own such lyric offering, but Rogers said it proved to be too daunting a task for the company. Thus, it partnered with Gracenote instead and is pleased with the results.

"Now lyrics take their rightful place next to artist bios, discographies, videos, and downloads. All free to you, dear music lover. So check out the lyrics to hits like I’m The One, Start!, Freewill, or even Michelle (that’s right, we have The Beatles)," added Rogers.

Yahoo has built a Lyric Search for the new offering, which will pull up songs based on names or matching phrases. Lyrics will also be integrated into Yahoo! Music Artist Pages, as well as the company's Web and Audio searches.

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