How I Would Fix iTunes, Part 8: Lyrics

(This is one of a series of articles looking at elements of iTunes that I think need fixing. I’ll choose one element for each article, and offer a solution. See all articles in this series. If you have any particular gripes about what needs to be fixed in iTunes, drop me a line.)

iTunes has long been able to store lyrics in your music files. To do this, select a track, press Command-I (Control-I on Windows), and then click Lyrics. Paste the lyrics, and click OK.

Itunes lyrics

Unfortunately, the only way you can read these lyrics while your music is playing is to select each song and press Command-I to display the Info window.

You can do this on iOS. When you’re playing a song in the Music app, just tap the album art to display lyrics (if there are any).

Ios lyrics

iTunes should have a window that lets you view lyrics more easily: this could be a pop-up window that displays, for example, when you click the More button next to the currently playing track in the iTunes LCD (the top section of the iTunes window). Or it could be a dedicated, floating window.

Another thing iTunes could do is automatically download lyrics. Spotify’s desktop app is adding MusixMatch lyrics integration. When this is available, you’ll be able to click a Lyrics button in the app and see the lyrics display as the music is playing.

iTunes could do this, but they could also download the lyrics to the files when you rip CDs, just as the app can download album artwork. It could also start adding lyrics to music sold on the iTunes Store.

It’s worth pointing out that you can put more than just lyrics in this tag; you can put any text you want. Hyperion Records does this, adding lyrics for vocal works, and notes for other works. The Lyrics tag can hold about 24,800 characters, which is nearly 5,000 words, and Hyperion takes advantage of this, offering you complete notes for each track.

Hyperion lyrics

iTunes could make these notes easier to view, and offer added information with tracks – and other media – sold on the iTunes Store.

Music listeners like lyrics; iTunes should do provide a better way to view them, and, if possible, a way to download them.