How Does That Song Go?
Dear Editor —
I would like to encourage the record label companies to take responsibility for maintaining an Internet site that would contain the lyrics to all the albums that they produce. Various lyric sites are available but are not a comprehensive list. Sites posted by fans are often incorrect, sites by the artists are precisely that and contain only their particular song lyrics, and most artists do not have sites available. Sites posted by record clubs list only the most currently popular and neglect obscure artists. It is often impossible to find the lyrics to old or foreign songs, even though I can still purchase CDs of them. Only the record label companies would be able to maintain a comprehensive and permanent library of all the songs that they produce, and the posting of lyrics should go hand in hand with the production. A few CDs do contain a pamphlet with the words to songs, but not all do. Wouldn’t it be easier and less costly to maintain an Internet site than to print and package such a pamphlet? Access to such an Internet site could be advertised directly on the CD package. This system would profit the record label, the artists, those selling the albums, and certainly the consumer would benefit.
Julio Diaz responds: Thanks for your interesting opinion piece, Georgia. We’re not sure why you’d think Ink 19 has the power to influence “the record label companies” to undertake such a massive project with questionable return for the cost involved – and believe me, if there was money in this, the major labels (at least) would be doing it – but we’re flattered that you think so highly of us. Getting even just the big 5 major labels to cooperate on a project like this would be virtually impossible, though – the only time they seem able to play nice is when it’s in their mutual interest (i.e. the recent Napster lawsuits) – and when you factor in the literally thousands of independent labels out there, it becomes mind-bogglingly impossible to coordinate a project of this size and scope. Moreover, with recording technology becoming more and more available seemingly by the minute, to keep up such a project would be almost impossible – trust me, even with Ink 19’s large writing staff, we can’t keep up with reviewing all the records we’re sent in a month (to say nothing of the hundreds of releases a month we never see copies of) – so just keeping up with the data entry demands of such a project would be staggering.
The second hurdle would be clearing the publishing rights to all the lyrics – the labels don’t actually possess the rights to the lyrics; instead, they’re controlled by music publishing companies who pay royalties to the artists. These companies are paid a fee whenever lyrics are printed, and they’re certainly not about to give them away.
In a perfect world, all information would be free, and you’d be able to open a massive archive like this, but it’s probably a little naïve to hope for something like this in the “real world.” We do wish you the best of luck in your crusade, though!