Do you miss all the time you used to spend crammed in tiny karaoke rooms, belting out showtunes until three in the morning? So do we, but Spotify might have something that will help with your impromptu singalongs. As of this morning, the company is now testing a feature that displays lyrics synced with your music in the United States.
Don't be surprised if you never see these live lyrics show up, though. Spotify is a big fan of A/B testing, so only a subset of its users will actually be able to use the feature. While the company has said that on-screen lyrics are among its most widely requested features, the whole point of this exercise is to measure the demand for lyrics in the company's US user pool. Spotify declined to comment went asked how many users it planned to make the feature available to, but it provided the following statement:
“We can confirm we’re currently testing our lyrics feature to a select number of users in the US," a spokesperson told Engadget in an email. "At Spotify, we routinely conduct a number of tests in an effort to improve our user experience. Some of those tests end up paving the way for our broader user experience and others serve only as an important learning. We don’t have any further news to share at this time.”
Spotify has toyed with the idea of displaying lyrics alongside music for years, beginning with a partnership with Italian music data company Musixmatch that — for whatever reason — came to a close in 2016. After that, the company pivoted to a more informational approach with help from Genius; when supported songs were played, lyrics would appear in timed cards alongside snippets of trivia and historical context. Those "Behind the Lyrics" cards remain available to this day, but we understand that if Spotify chooses to go ahead with its live lyrics in the US, the Genius-powered alternative will be removed.
It's worth noting that Spotify's "new" approach to lyrics -- which is once again powered by Musixmatch -- isn't really all that new. The company has been testing the feature in markets around the world for years, and officially launched it in 26 markets — including Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Thailand, India and more — around the middle of 2020. More recently, live lyrics were also made available to users in South Korea when the service launched there earlier this month. At the risk of sounding a little obvious, though, not every test market ultimately gets access to the feature at wide scale. Spotify, for instance, ran a similar test in Canada before discontinuing it around June 2020; to our knowledge, the feature has never reappeared.
This move puts Spotify on more even footing with competing services like Apple Music and Deezer, and should help the company from losing competitors to more feature-rich rivals. Then again, Spotify seemed to be doing just fine even without support for live lyrics — the company's stock price has more than doubled since January 2020, and recently hit an all-time high last month.