Rap Genius, the online lyric site that lets users annotate and explain songs, has signed its first licensing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Billboard reports. The deal was inked months ago, actually, with the annoucenment coming just days after the National Music Publishers Association issued takedown notices to 50 sites that posted lyrics without paying the songwriters; Rap Genius was Number One on their "Undesirable Lyric Website List."
But in a statement, Sony/ATV Music Publishing's Chairman and CEO, Martin Bandier, called Rap Genius "a new and exciting way" for songwriters and music fans to connect. Rap Genius co-founder Tom Lehman said that other licensing deals could follow, which he hopes will allow the site's relationship with artists to improve even more.
Those new deals will be important: Sony/ATV Publishing may be the largest music publisher in the world, but Rap Genius still does not have the licenses to the majority of their songs because just as songs can have multiple writers, they can also have multiple publishers. Luckily for the site, even in the aftermath of the "Undesirable Lyric" site list, the NMPA's President and CEO, David Israelite, said they hope to facilitate similar deals rather than just shut down unlicensed sites.
Rap Genius has emerged as one of the highest-funded lyrics site, receiving a whopping $15 million investment from the Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz last October. Along with branching out to let users offer interpretations of rock and pop songs, as well as rap, they've also opened up the site to poetry, news and even legal documents.