Rap Genius Signs Deal With Warner/Chappell

Warner/Chappell Music boss Cameron Strang is now at Rap Genius.
Warner/Chappell Music boss Cameron Strang is now at Rap Genius.
 Newscom

Rap Genius has signed a deal with Warner/ Chappell, giving it agreements with all three major music publishing companies.

The online lyrics and analysis site signed deals with Sony/ATV last November and then Universal Music Publishing this past January after resolving a dispute with the National Music Publishers Association.

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Rap Genius co-founder Ilan Zechory said: “Warner/Chappell’s songwriters are unbelievably popular and we will help them connect with their most obsessed fans. Warner/Chappell Music goes back more than 200 years — we think this partnership will last at least another 200.”

The NMPA issued takedown notices last November against the 50 “worst offenders” in illegal lyric publishing, putting Rap Genius at the top of the list.

Rap Genius, which launched in 2009, scored a $15 million investment from tech venture capital firms led by Andreessen Horowitz in 2012. The online site encourages users to annotate and comment on the lyrics of tracks to provide background and context to the words.

Zechory elaborated in an email responding to the NMPA announcement: “The lyrics sites the NMPA 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. 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.”

Zechory responded to the NMPA threat to take legal action against the targeted websites by signing deals with the three major publishers. The site also incurred the wrath of Google, who downgraded the site’s search rankings after learning it was employing dubious optimization tricks to attain top spots.

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Rap Genius was created in October 2009 by Yale undergraduates Zechory and Tom Lehman with Stanford Law grad Mahbod Moghadam, who was fired last May after publishing and annotating the manifesto of mass murderer Elliot Rodger with objectionable comments like, “MY GUESS: his sister is smokin hot.”

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