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November 05, 2012

Rap Genius' business plan (aside from finding more investors to dupe): Corporate sponsored annotations

Corporate sponsored annotations

This is straight for the Arabian horse's mouth (so to speak), so it'll be that much more difficult for them to lawyer their way out of, though I'm sure they'll still try: In a comment on a post on my Facebook linking to a post here about how rappers who enter their own lyrics into Rap Genius waive their right to profit off of them (since confirmed by Combat Jack, who, like Star Jones, is, in fact, a lawyer), Rap Genius co-founder Mahbod Moghadam reveals that one day they plan to sell ad space within the annotations that rappers and random racist kids contribute to the site. As an exampleof how much money they could make doing this, he points to the fact that it costs $100k a pop to pay Lil Wayne to mention a product on Twitter. Multiply that by the number of songs in Rap Genius, and you're starting to talk about real money. Not that $100k already  isn't more money than I've made in my entire life. And I've been out of college for upwards of 10 years! #jealousy

Obvious concerns:

1) If you already waived your right to profit from the use of your own lyrics when you typed them into Rap Genius, how much money do you receive when Rap Genius turns around and sells ad space within your annotations? None, right?

2) If you do an especially good job of explaining already obvious rap lyrics, you earn Rap IQ. If you get enough Rap IQ, you can enter the private, racist editors chat room. But you don't get any money when Rap Genius takes your "user generated content" straight to the bank, do you?

3) If you can make money from mentioning products within Rap Genius annotations, maybe you can make more money by mentioning more products in your songs, thus increasing the number of opportunities to mention said products on Rap Genius.

4) Will artists who have already been reduced to recording for labels owned by the likes of Mountain Dew, Converse, Adult Swim and what have you have any choice but to mention those products on Rap Genius, and if they do, will they get paid, or does that just count against their advance?

5) When corporations are allowed to add their own explanations of rap lyrics, will Rap Genius users be allowed to "downvote" those explanations the same way they do other random kids? Will corporations essentially be able to buy Rap IQ, thus rendering the concept of Rap IQ even more useless than it already is?

6) Similarly, if we know that rappers could be getting paid to say whatever they say on Rap Genius, how can we trust the accuracy of their explanations? Would you believe an article in the newspaper, if the guy who wrote it was on the payroll of a company that was mentioned?

7) Let's say there's already a rap song that mentions a consumer product. (I know...) Will I still be allowed to add whatever explanation I want to it? Would it matter if I could get enough people to vote for it, or if I have enough Rap IQ to enter the private, racist editors chat room?

8) The more money Rap Genius makes from running corporate sponsored annotations, the more money they can donate to the Republicans. Just because Mahbod said fuck Mitt Romney on Twitter doesn't mean that Marc Andreessen won't continue to cut checks to Romney, Paul Ryan, Todd Akin, et al. Who takes orders from whom?

9) Presumably, right now doesn't pay rappers and their labels shit to use their lyrics, because it's covered under Fair Use (for criticism, parody and what have you). Will they still be able to get away with that once they start running corporate sponsored annotations? Will every rapper receive a cut, or just the ones who agree to act as a shill?

10) Let's say I'm a rapper who objects to my lyrics being used for purposes like selling diabetes-laden sugar water to children and helping to elect Mitt Romney. Or maybe I'd rather not have my lyrics "explained" by racists who were born in 1998. Is there a way I can opt out of having my lyrics listed in Rap Genius, or do I have a choice in the matter? Has this ever been attempted? Or is just that no one ever thought of it until now?

Legitimate rape genius

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Byron Crawford a/k/a Bol is the celebrated author of several books, most recently NaS Lost: A Tribute to the Little Homey.

Copp dat:NaS Lost

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Posted by Bol at 03:24 PM | Permalink

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