Genius, the startup formerly known as RapGenius that began as a place for crowdsourced rap lyrics and now provides a platform for people to annotate everything from songs to historical texts, has scored a high-profile new hire: Renowned New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones.
The New York Times was the first to break the news on Sunday evening, reporting that Frere-Jones will join Genius as an executive editor. In an interview with the paper, he said he will be looking to hire three to four more media and music industry experts. He’s quoted as saying, “My remit is going into the lyrics site and building a team… [to work toward] that Twitter moment when suddenly the smart kids stop holding their noses up in the air and they take part, and it just improves.”
It’s a big loss for the New Yorker, but a huge coup for Genius, which has had its share of high-profile successes and stumbles since it was founded in 2009.
Since its inception, Genius’ M.O. has been to attract knowledgeable and connected people to contribute to the site, but generally they’ve been expected to pitch in for free — this hire seems to be a financial investment in keeping the quality of its annotations high. I’ll personally miss reading Frere-Jones’ longform work at the New Yorker, but will be watching to see what he brings to his new post.