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Spotify Acquiring Genius

Music is an essential driver of culture and trends in both America and abroad. Two of my favorite things are listening to and discussing music. I love finding new artists, analyzing lyrics, as well as learning about the production behind both classic and new albums. Spotify has been an incredible mobile utility to access large libraries and consume music through an easy user interface. With over 40 Million paying subscribers, Spotify is a mobile application many people can’t live without. As great as Spotify is, however, there are some additions the platform could make in order to enhance the experience as well as prepare themselves for a future IPO. This is where Genius comes into play.

For those unfamiliar with Genius, it is the internet’s destination for song lyrics. They have established deals with major publishers for the exclusive lyric rights to vast music libraries. Through a tiered hierarchy system, users can annotate and provide additional context to lines of lyrics. The approval hierarchy helps ensure there is a level of quality amongst annotations. Artists can become verified and annotate as well: Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper, even Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Within the annotations, users can discuss music and provide their own interpretations of the lyrics. It’s fascinating to see how people interpret lyrics through their own unique lenses. The Genius community is extremely in touch with the latest cultural trends and even provides clever parallels between lyrics and modern day themes.

In 2016, Spotify and Genius partnered on “Behind The Lyrics” in which annotations that corresponded to lyrics appeared behind a limited number of songs, with the option for the user to view them. This is one of the best features added to Spotify in recent memory and it turned Spotify into a visual application instead of a passive listening one. With “Behind The Lyrics” there is now a reason to a look at the application beyond song selection.

Aside from “Behind The Lyrics” there is no where to learn about or discuss music on Spotify, yet there is so much opportunity. After listening to Drake’s Views album, fans should be able to watch a video like this on Spotify about the deconstruction of the tracks. Spotify should also add a gamification component to their application, similar to The Rap Test from a few years ago. These features allow users to learn and feel more connected to the music.

There is no doubt music discussion is something the platform needs to address in 2017. To do this, Spotify should really consider acquiring Genius in order to add a social and cultural component to their platform while tapping into the Genius community and creative team to jump start these discussions. A Spotify mobile and web-based music social network (derived off of the Genius framework) will allow Spotify to develop more revenue streams through advertisements and ultimately create a more compelling experience. Music is a rare topic that brings strangers together and there is a tremendous opportunity for Spotify to develop a strong social network from users’ love of music discussion, giving them an edge in the great streaming war.

Written by Matthew Stanton

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