Rap Genius, the New York-based lyric and annotation site, has secured a licensing deal with Warner/Chappell Music, the world's third-largest music publisher. The arrangement, the details of which have not been disclosed, frees up Rap Genius to publish lyrics by W/C's tens-of-thousands of songwriters.
"WCM's songwriters are unbelievably popular and Rap Genius will help them connect with their most obsessed fans," site founder Ilan Zechory said in a statement. "WCM dates back more than 200 years [Ed. note: it actually does] – we think this partnership will last at least another 200."
Warner/Chappell's roster includes Eric Clapton, Green Day, Lil Wayne, Bruno Mars, Aretha Franklin and Brantley Gilbert, among others. When reached for comment on the deal, the publishing giant referred to Rap Genius' original statement.
Warner/Chappell was the last of the major publishers that Rap Genius needed to secure a licensing deal. In January the startup struck a deal with Universal Music Publishing Group, which followed a similar arrangement last year with Sony/ATV. In May it was announced Rap Genius came to an agreement with the NMPA, the largest U.S. music publishing trade association.
Speaking to Billboard in March, venture capitalist Ben Horowitz said of his investment in the site: "Other areas are just easier to license, and music is notoriously difficult." Horowitz's company, Andreeson/Horowitz, was part of a $15 million funding round behind the company in the Fall of 2012.
Since launching in 2009, Rap Genius has routinely found itself in hot water for not having appropriate licenses to publish song lyrics, which its contributors then meticulously annotate. The site does not limit itself to lyrics, however, and has launched sections for poetry and news. Site co-founder Mahbod Moghadam left the company in May after adding "incendiary annotations" to an entry for the manifesto of Elliot Rodger, the shooter in the Isla Vista killing spree.