This could be one of the strangest stats of late.
But according to Lyricfind CEO Darryl Ballantyne, the display of a song’s lyrics produces more publishing revenue than the actual stream of the song on a service like Spotify.
Part of the reason is probably that lyrics are a relatively new, freshly-negotiated revenue stream online. On an interactive audio stream, publishers receive pre-established performance and mechanical royalties (more on Spotify publishing payouts from Songtrust here), and more traditional karaoke has been huge for decades.
This is the conversation that happened during a panel at Digital Music Forum East in New York on Thursday.
Ballantyne: “For a long, long time, [lyrics] were unlicensed. Nobody was paying the songwriters, nobody was paying the music publishers for those rights. And as a lot of people know, lyrics is actually the most popular search term on Google and most other search engines, so there’s a huge demand for the content. So we’ve gone and licensed the content from the music publishers… and sub-licensed it out to people.
“And now, we’re paying out millions of dollars to publishers and songwriters for the use of their lyrics, and five years ago, there were zero dollars going to people for that.
“And on a usage basis, we pay the publishers more per lyric display than Spotify pays per stream.”
Evan Lowenstein (StageIt): “One more time though, there’s more value so-to-speak to looking at the lyrics than there is in an actual play?”
Ballantyne: “To a publisher, yes. The effective rate that we end up paying them per lyric display is more than what’s been reported that Spotify pays them for a stream.”
Yinka Adegoke (Reuters): “What multiple of the reported figure?”
Ballantyne: “It’s not ten times as much or anything than that… it’s a significant percentage higher, I’d have to look at the actual stats. But I know that when we looked at the numbers, we said ‘wow, we’re actually paying a lot more than that.”