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Lyrics firm Genius sells its assets to MediaLab for $80m

New York-based Genius has sold its assets to a company called MediaLab for $80m, according to Bloomberg. Which would be an exit to celebrate for many companies, but in Genius’s case it’s only a few million more than the $77.7m of funding it has raised since it was founded in 2009 as Rap Genius.

(Note, there’s some degree of uncertainty here: the $77.7m figure comes from CrunchBase, but Bloomberg’s report claimed that the $80m assets sale was “less than the total funding raised”.)

Genius’s focus has been on music lyrics, and the context provided for them by its users, and often the artists themselves.

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K Camp and Genius talk artist entrepreneurs: ‘Ain’t nobody gonna babysit you!’

If you don’t know Atlanta artist K Camp, it’s highly likely you know his track ‘Lottery (Renegade)’, or at least the 15-second clip of it that blew up on TikTok early in 2020, in turn sending the track zooming back up the charts.

There’s far more to K Camp than one viral track, however. With DJ, producer and business partner Genius he’s been steadily building his career both as an artist, and as an entrepreneur.

The pair co-founded Rare Sound, a creative hub that encompasses a label, recording studio, distribution and other musical activities. And today, they talked about some of the principles that have helped them to build and grow, at Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit Global online conference.

As an artist, K Camp has worked within the major label system – with Interscope – and also independently. It’s been a journey of continual enlightenment.

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Judge sinks Genius’s lyrics-scraping lawsuit against Google

Last June, Genius accused Google of scraping its song lyrics without permission, and later in the year launched a $50m lawsuit against the tech giant and its partner LyricFind. It hasn’t gone well for Genius: a federal judge has now dismissed the lawsuit.

The Hollywood Reporter has the full ruling, and the gist is… well, it’s complicated. The case has essentially been thrown out because Genius’s claims “are preempted by the Copyright Act”. In other words: publishing lyrics without permission is copyright infringement, but Genius isn’t the copyright owner (that would be publishers).

So (in the ruling’s words) “the case law is clear that only the original copyright owner has exclusive rights to authorize derivative works”.

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Antitrust hearing creates plenty of smoke, but how much fire?

“As always, there’s a risk that some of the politicians will see the hearing simply as a chance to grandstand: to puff up to their full pomposity and give powerful tech CEOs a public telling off,” we wrote yesterday, about the US Congress’s antitrust hearing with Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.

Yes indeed: if you’re a glutton for punishment you can watch the full five and a half hours archived on YouTube, with grandstanding a-plenty. Occasionally, some serious questioning (and awkward moments for the four companies’ CEOs) emerged.

Tech newsletter The Interface has a good overview of what each company was pressed on, while Spotify’s legal/policy teams will be poring over the details revealed about Amazon’s reduced rev-share deal with Apple for its Prime Video app, as well as documents showing some of Apple’s internal discussions about its in-app subscriptions model.

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Wiz Khalifa to play Genius Live interactive livestream

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about livestreamed concerts during the Covid-19 lockdown, it’s that fans relish interactivity: at its simplest level seeing an artist read and respond to comments in between songs.

Genius is going further though: it’s launching a new “performance-oriented livestreaming and experiential platform” called Genius Live, with lots of interactivity.

Wiz Khalifa will be first to play a Genius Live concert this Thursday (9 July). It’ll be free to watch, and fans will be able to vote on the setlist, leave tips, chat to one another, and spend money on “special purchases” including getting a shoutout from Khalifa, or even going virtually ‘on stage’ with him.