Apple Music Gets Sick of the Lyrics Providers, Starts Transcribing Lyrics Themselves

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Apple Music is taking a totally different approach to transcribing music lyrics.  The Genius/LyricFind scandal earlier this year highlights why.

Your news feed may have lit up this summer with reports of Google stealing lyrics.  Google was caught ‘red-handed’ stealing lyrics, the headlines flew ⁠— but Google wasn’t entirely to blame.

Google sources its lyrics from LyricFind, a third-party lyric provider.  LyricFind says it has a whole content team devoted to compiling song lyrics.  But the company also says it uses numerous sources, including the artist, songwriter, and “other websites.”

So, Lyricfind didn’t really ‘steal’ the lyrics, they just copied them from a competitor.  LyricFind eventually offered a half-baked apology for the fiasco and said it wouldn’t source Genius anymore. The sneaky way Genius confirmed that the lyrics were lifted really is a thing of beauty.

Apple appears to be side-stepping this by working with an in-house team of transcribers.

“The usual websites” is how the head of Apple Music, Oliver Schusser describes them. Apple hired a team of lyrics specialists in 2016 to do their transcriptions in-house.

A job posting from back then for a Lyrics Curation Manager revealed some of the details behind the job. Apple described the ideal candidate as someone with a “passion for technology and a will to question the current workflows. General understanding, love, and ideally experience in writing lyrics.”

The position sought five years of work-related experience. Any experience with lyrics was a big plus. We’re not exactly sure who Apple got to fill their Lyrics Curation Manager position. But fans have been less than thrilled with the accuracy.

LL Cool J settled a decades-old dispute about some of his lyrics via Twitter this summer. He said every single lyric site had it wrong and went on the record to clear things up. So even if Apple is paying its own staff to transcribe lyrics ⁠— they don’t always get it right.