Lyrics Guidelines

Lyrics must be accurate and match the audio. This includes everything that is an integral part of the vocals. Apple may change the formatting of provided lyrics for stylistic reasons.

General Formatting

The structure of a song should dictate a lyric’s format and structure. When transcribing lyrics, it is important to separate the lyrical sections and changes within a song with line and section breaks. All lyric lines should be single-spaced and a double space should separate each stanza.

If unsure when to input a line or section break, some common identifiers are:

  • A defined chorus, verse, intro, bridge, or hook
  • Changes in the song tempo
  • Changes in how the artist delivers the lyrics (from singing to rapping)

Capitalization

Capitalization in your lyrics should follow traditional grammar rules. Proper nouns must be capitalized. Additionally, all lyric lines must begin with a capital letter.

Here are examples of words that must be capitalized:

  • Divinity and religious intricacies (“God,” “You,” “Him,” “Your” in religious songs)
  • Acronyms (NASA, FBI)
  • Geographical location (East Coast, Southside, etc.)
  • Title casing
  • The first letter of the first word contained in parentheses
  • Brand names

Punctuation

There should be no periods or commas at the end of any lyric line. Exclamation points, question marks, and quotation marks should be the only end-line punctuation and should be included as needed.

Within the line, it is most important to follow traditional grammar rules.

Additional examples of acceptable punctuation:

  • Hyphens dropped words, spelled out words, and acronyms (L-Y-R-I-C-S)
  • Parentheses background vocals should be wrapped in parentheses at the end of a line, with the first letter capitalized
  • Apostrophe for certain slang and contractual modifications (‘Rari for Ferrari)

Repeated Lines

The lyrics should match the audio. If a line is repeated, it should be written out.

Correct:

Until you respect me and my dogs

I’ll keep barking up the wrong tree

I’ll keep barking up the wrong tree

I’ll keep barking up the wrong tree

I'll keep barking up the wrong tree

Incorrect:

Until you respect me and my dogs

I'll keep barking up the wrong tree

(Repeat x3)

Spoken Word

Currently, spoken word/conversational content within a song should not be transcribed.

Non-word Vocal Sounds

Non-word vocals should be transcribed sparingly and only if they add to the content of the song, either narratively or stylistically.

Improvised scatting is considered instrumental content and should not be transcribed.

Non-lyrical, or “harmonious non-word vocal sounds,” should be transcribed.

For example: “ooh,” “ah,” “whoa,” as well as onomatopoeia such as “burr” or “skrrt.”

Do not include computer-generated sound effects in lyrics (door slamming, car horn, phone ringing, etc.)


Clean and Explicit Lyrics

The term “clean” should only be used if there is an available corresponding explicit version of the track. In clean lyrics, dropped and edited content should be represented with asterisks.

If the track is explicit, all explicit language must be transcribed as it is heard in the audio.

Audio: "I'm the motherfucking man"

Lyrics: I'm the motherfucking man

Partially or fully censored words should be completely starred out with asterisks.

Audio: "I'm the mother(bleeped out) man"

Lyrics: I'm the **** man

Audio: "I'm the (bleeped out) man"

Lyrics: I'm the **** man

Time Sync

At this time, the Time Sync lyrics is a feature that is implemented at Apple’s editorial discretion.


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