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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 April 2007, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Yahoo launches legal lyrics site
Yahoo Music's lyrics site
The database contains lyrics by Bob Dylan, Prince and The Beatles
Madonna fans will never again make the mistake of singing: "Like a virgin, touched for the thirty-first time" as Yahoo launches a legal lyric service.

Yahoo Music in the US is letting users look up the words to 400,000 songs by artists such as Prince and Beyonce.

Song word sites are already popular on the web, but this is the first time major publishers have given consent.

The lyrics come from Gracenote, the company which powers the CD look-up facility on programmes like iTunes.

Through the agreement, users can search for songs using the Yahoo Music search bar, simply by entering even a partial lyric from the song.

Recent hits dominated as the service launched, with The Fray's How To Save A Life the most popular search.

Misheard lyrics

Jimi Hendrix
What, exactly, is Jimi Hendrix singing about?
But the site will also come in useful for settling arguments about classic records.

Does Kate Bush really sing: "It's me! I'm a tree! I'm a wombat!" in Wuthering Heights?

And are Bananarama "guilty as a cocoa bean" in Love In The First Degree?

The answer, in both cases, is no. Bush is singing: "It's me, I'm Cathy. I've come home"; Bananarama are as guilty "as a girl can be".

"Song lyrics are continually among the top 10 searches performed on major search engines, said Craig Palmer, president and chief executive officer of Gracenote.

"But the results often provide consumers a frustrating experience filled with inconsistent and incomplete lyrics, and annoying pop-ups."

Popular artists

Nearly 100 music publishers have licensed their artists' lyrics to Gracenote - including the top five: BMG Music Publishing, EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group, Warner/Chappell Music.

Between them, they publish the words and music written by acts like The Beatles, Bob Dylan and U2.

They will be hoping to combat the large number of sites which publish lyrics, often transcribed by users, without permission.

"We think we can build a really healthy business for lyrics and I think publishers stand to gain quite significantly from this new revenue stream," said Ralph Peer, head of music publishing firm peermusic.

"With the popularity of lyrics on the Internet, advertisers want to be there. This is definitely a selling point," said Rogers.

Gracenote said it was also talking with various other music partners, such as Apple's iTunes, about its lyrics database.

"We wouldn't be in the business to launch just one service, so stay tuned," said Palmer.

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