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Sing What? Gracenote and MTV sign deal for Music Lyrics

I’ll take famously misidentified song lyrics for $2,000 please Alex. … um…what is Purple Haze?

MTV GracenoteIt’s sometimes hard to believe but Internet searches for song lyrics are a popular activity. The unenunciated, the misheard, the garbled – they stoke our curiosity. And the mistaken ones, Mondegreen’s as they’re called, they make for good trivia and occasional laughs. There have even been books written to collect them.

Music being the soundtracks of our lives, I guess it’s only natural that we want to know what they’re saying. And apparently, we want to know enough that it’s become big business. Lyric websites have provoked copyright lawsuits and cease and desist orders time and time again.

Last April, Gracenote signed a first of kind deal with Yahoo to provide authorized lyrics (licensed from the music publishers) across Yahoo’s music sites. This week, in their second major deal, Gracenote added MTV Networks (MTV, VH1, CMT) to their client roster.

It’s not what you’d call an exciting business opportunity but Emeryville based Gracenote has built a near monopoly around selling music data related products. Their proprietary database of album information, which includes such readily available data as track lists, and year of release, has been licensed to thousands of companies ranging from car makers (Cadillac) and mobile applications to digital music stores. Even on industry leading iTunes, the music identification services are powered by Gracenote.

The deal with MTV Networks will bring Gracenote’s lyrics service to all three of their music brands: MTV, VH1 and Country Music Television (CMT). Viewers will be able to search for full song lyrics from any Internet connection, including on specially formatted pages. The information will also likely be integrated in to the music joint venture MTVN Launched in August with Real Network’s Rhapsody and Verizon’s Vcast.

Lyrics will not be limited to just the web and mobile properties either. In a side note that makes the deal more interesting, Gracenote Lyrics will help power a new "Name That Tune" game show. The will also be used to create online trivia games.

MTVN pledged to spend upwards of $500m on gaming in August. Lyric based games will be a very small debit from that account.

The assorted lyrics offerings will begin to launch in November and continue rolling out into 2008.

Until then, here’s a few famous (or infamous) mondegreens:

Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix)
actual lyric: excuse my while I kiss the sky
mistaken: excuse me while I kiss the guy (Hendrix reportedly sang the wrong lyric live once or twice as a joke)

Blinded by the Light (Manfred Mann covering Bruce Springsteen)
actual lyric: revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night
mistaken: wrapped up like a douche, another runner in the night

Scar Tissue (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
actual lyric: With birds I share this lonely view
mistaken: When bird shit is all over you.

More hilarious and amusing examples can be found all over the web. There’s a collection here for quick hits.

Related Articles:
Gracenote Licenses Lyrics for Yahoo
Are TV Music Videos Dead? Did the Internet Kill the Video Star?
MTV Pledges $500m for Gaming
•MTVN, Verizon and Real Networks Create Rhapsody America
MTV Networks Consolidates Web Properties Around Spike

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