Lyrics Madness

When the Apple iPod was first released I was one of the early adopters. I could already see this as a new paradigm for delivering and serving music and I wanted to be a part of the revolution. I have literally thousands of CDs that I have bought over the years. Many of these were repurchased from cassette tapes that I had before that. Even some of those were repurchased from 8-Track tapes before that.

I am not unfamiliar with the migration from one format to another. Each time I bought into the argument that the new format was better than the last and I would finally hear the music the way the artist and producer had expected.

I loved the clarity and durability of the CD format but I struggled with the idea of taking all of my music with me or even a good chuck of it necessitated having binders of discs with the accompanying cover art and liner notes.

It is not just the music that is important but also the things that go with it. Whether it is the album art that attempts to graphically connect the listener to the music or the notes booklet that contains the lyrics and words of the artists. All of these things together make up the listening experience for me.

When the iPod came along it changed music listening. At first it was just the songs. There was no way to even maintain the album art. The music became impersonal and was deduced down to a series of zeroes and ones. Before long, Apple recognized the need to have the other aspects of the music experience.

Album art was the first ancillary artifact to find its way into the equation. Sites sprung up that would allow you to search for album art and attach the graphics to the sound files through tags. Soon other tag data would follow with users having the ability to add additional information about their music.

Lyrics are a big part of the music listening experience. So many times with today’s music it is hard to decipher what the exact words are within a song. During my album and CD days I would reach for the liner notes that included the lyrics to the songs.

With digital downloads and CDs ripped into an electronic file, the liner notes have seemed to become less important; less important to everyone except the consumer. I still find myself wondering what the words are that are being sung.

The problem is, the music industry for whatever reason has decided that the lyrics are top secret and should be guarded like national secrets. They have made it nearly impossible to easily add lyrics to the music files.

Each time a new program or service attempts to make it easier for the consumer to add lyrics the music industry swoops in and shuts them down threatening legal action against the developer. I find it extremely frustrating and confusing as to why they would treat the music customer so haphazardly.

It is not like we are stealing the lyrics and reusing them in some way to cheat the artists out of their just rewards. We are simply trying to quickly and easily add lyrics to those music files that we rightfully have purchased.

There are now rumors running ramped around the Internet that the music industry is working on a model where they will charge the general public to access the lyrics. These lyrics files, which were included in the price of an album or CD suddenly, have become a hot commodity and a value add.

The customer is left frustrated having to go to numerous locations trying to find these simple lyrics files. It is decisions such as these that makes the consumer want to see the music industry fail. It is based on antiquated business models and no one seems willing or able to find a model that will work.

I have to believe that this is how the dinosaurs must have died. Their inability or unwillingness to adapt to the changing environment will ultimately kill them and the artists that they represent. On that day I will gladly dance upon their graves singing the lyrics that I had to search an hour to find and enter by hand.

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