How To Monetize Your Lyrics For Additional Revenue
Lyrics are frequently overlooked as a revenue source (royalties). Here's a rough sketch of how you can benefit from song lyrics as a potential source of revenue.
(or skip all of the backgrounds and go straight to our solution at the bottom of this page)
What Kinds Of Royalties Are Earned With Song Lyrics?
The short answer is mechanical royalties. The long answer depends on how you’re sharing your royalties with the sources that license them. Generally speaking, your distributor or record label – i.e., the entity monetizing your recording – is responsible for passing your well-developed words to content partners that populate lyric services online.
As a publishing administrator, Songtrust can also deliver your lyrics to some monetized sources, such as LyricFind, so make sure you’re sending all the relevant information to collection partners to cover your bases. Some lyric services will accept direct lyric delivery directly from songwriters and music creators via their platform or website; when going this route, make sure you’re using the correct format for their system.
If you search for the lyrics of any given song online, you will almost certainly come across websites devoted to transcribing (often incorrectly!) the lyrics of countless tracks.
Online lyric services, like digital streaming services, are legally required to pay songwriters a fee for displaying song lyrics. There is no set statutory rate set. The fee can be in the form of a blanket license for a specific time period or a percentage of annual gross sales. This is money that you should collect as a songwriter.
Think again if this seems to be a minor revenue stream. Lyrics have grown in importance in recent years on social media platforms such as Instagram — where you can pair your videos with streaming music and lyrics — and streaming platforms such as Spotify, which launched its own streaming lyrics feature in the fall of 2021. Companies such as Musixmatch (a Spotify partner), LyricFind, and Genius power the lyrics for many of these services, providing revelatory karaoke refreshers as well as another potential, a well-trodden path to profitability for songwriters.
Print And Merchandise Royalties
For some songwriters, print music royalties can be a significant source of income. Print royalties, unlike mechanical licenses for physical reproduction, do not have a set statutory rate; instead, they are established through direct negotiation with the licensor.
Although sheet music is no longer the primary source of songwriter royalties as it once was, lyric books are still published in some genres (optionally with guitar chords).
Don't overlook the potential of merchandise featuring their lyrics. T-shirts, coffee mugs, tea towels, and water bottles are all subject to the same licensing requirements and subsequent royalties.
How Do You Cash In On These Royalties?
Getting set up with a publishing administrator like Songtrust — one that will register and collect on your works with sources all over the world — is an important first step in ensuring you're collecting the royalties your lyrics have earned. Learn more about Songtrust's songwriter offerings by clicking here.
Also, get your lyrics on Genius, Musixmatch and LyricFind. (CRITICAL)
Musixmatch has more formalities and guidelines to follow, but the rewards are also larger! Start off using a special artist account to simplify DIY lyric submission for artists. Musixmatch is an important source used by a large number of internet platforms for displaying lyrics.
LyricFind is quite difficult to access for indie artists and smaller labels. You can submit lyrics as fan-based contributions via email... but time-synced lyrics require other submission routes (e.g. through ChristianDance.eu).
Realize that if your existing service is not able to process time-synced lyrics, you are missing potential revenue! So, either select a service that (correctly) publishes time-synced lyrics, or take care of this yourself (DIY). Don't assume... verify that it is done correctly (it's otherwise your loss of potential revenue)!
Our solution for submitting (time-synced) lyrics to Musixmatch, Genius, and LyricFind
We have a detailed DIY guide and online tools to help you publish your lyrics to Musixmatch, Genius, and LyricFind. We also have a special agreement with LyricFind to submit time-synced lyrics that you can benefit from.
Online tool to check & fix Musixmatch submissions for common errors
Online tool to convert Musixmatch submission to Genius (once submitted to Musixmatch)
Online tool to convert time-synced lyrics on Musixmatch to LyricFind LRC format (once submitted and synced on Musixmatch)
Form to submit time-synced lyrics to LyricFind (DIY) (one-off fee or subscription)
Form to request us to convert and submit your lyrics from Musixmatch to LyricFind (one-off fee)
... OR ...
Share your lyrics with us, and we'll take care of the rest (one-off fee)