Last November, Spotify confirmed it was testing real-time lyrics synced to music in select markets. Tomorrow, the company will announce the launch of its new lyrics feature in 26 worldwide markets across Southeast Asia, India and Latin America. This will be the first time lyrics have been offered in 22 of these 26 markets, as only Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Mexico had some form of lyrics support in the past via other providers.
The launch is being made possible by a new agreement with lyrics provider Musixmatch, which was also the source for the tests seen last year. At that time, users in Canada had reported gaining access to real-time lyrics, as well. However, we understand that Canadian users in this test will no longer have the lyrics feature when it officially launches tomorrow, Tuesday, June 30th, in the supported markets.
The feature will offer real-time lyrics in the language in which the songs are sung. Users will access the feature by tapping “Lyrics” at the bottom of the “Now Playing” screen.
The following markets will gain access to the new feature starting tomorrow: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador, Uruguay, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Spotify confirmed the above details to TechCrunch, noting the lyrics support will go live at 10 a.m. EST on Tuesday, June 30.
The streamer had worked with Musixmatch in the past, but cut ties with the provider in 2016 before teaming up with lyrics provider Genius for its “Behind the Lyrics” feature.
Since 2016, Genius has provided Spotify with backstory and commentary along with partial lyrics to power the Behind the Lyrics feature, but didn’t offer full lyrics.
In 2018, Apple teamed up with Genius to provide full lyrics to Apple Music listeners. Apple Music also then became the exclusive web player for Genius. In 2020, Apple expanded its relationship with Genius to co-produce a video series called “Verified,” which was made available on Apple Music.
Spotify’s delay to roll out lyrics is due to the complexities around lyrics and licensing. As a result, providing users with access to legally licensed lyrics on streaming services has been difficult for many companies, not only Spotify.
Last year, for example, Genius sued Google and its lyrics partner, LyricFind for $50 million, claiming it caught LyricFind red-handed stealing its lyrics. Genius had used a clever digital watermarking technique where it had set the 2nd, 5th, 13th, 14th, 16th and 20th apostrophes of each watermarked song as curly apostrophes, and all the other apostrophes straight. Interpreted as Morse code, the pattern spelled out the word “redhanded.”
That companies would have to resort to digital tricks like this to combat lyrics-stealing shows how complicated the market for lyrics has become. Contrary to popular wisdom, lyrics aren’t usually provided by the labels or publishers. Instead, lyrics companies rely on fans to transcribe the lyrics to songs or they obtain lyrics from the artists themselves, then get a license from the publisher to display and distribute them.
Genius has been in particular demand because it frequently works with artists directly.
With the expansion of lyrics to these 26 countries, Spotify will offer lyrics to 27 markets out of its 79 total markets worldwide. Japan had already offered lyrics through a different provider until now.
Spotify’s global partnership with Musixmatch will provide it with access to the world’s largest catalog of lyrics and translations, it says.