New Genius API Provides Annotation Functionality to Websites and Apps

Genius, an online knowledge project and annotation tools Platform, has announced the release of its first public API which allows developers to integrate the Genius platform with websites and third-party applications. The Genius API provides programmatic access to the platform’s annotation functionality as well as the ability to retrieve Genius musical information and metadata.

Genius was launched in 2009 as Rap Genius, an online community where fans of Rap could interpret, explain, and annotate rap song lyrics. However, the site soon expanded to include all music genres as well as other topics including news, history, literature, law, technology, sports, and more. Earlier this year, Genius launched Genius Beta, a platform that makes it possible to annotate any web page with context, commentary and/or images using only a web browser.

Genius Beta allows annotations to be added directly on top of any web page via a prefix. When "" is added before a web page URL, the Genius servers visit the page injecting JavaScript code which enables annotation functionality. The server then sends the annotation enabled page to the user's browser. Genius also recently launched a chrome extension and bookmarklet to make it easy to activate annotations on web pages.

Marc Andreessen, Andreessen Horowitz co-founder and partner, is one of the investors in Genius providing $15 million to the startup back in 2012. Genius raised another $40 million last year led by Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans, and includes another investment from Andreessen Horowitz. Marc Andreessen explains in a 2012 blog post about his investment in Genius and his excitement for the project:

"Only a handful of people know that the big missing feature from the web browser – the feature that was supposed to be in from the start but didn't make it – is the ability to annotate any page on the Internet with commentary and additional information."

Back in 1993, Andreessen and Netscape co-founder Eric Bina had actually built a feature they called "group annotations" right into the Mosaic browser. The group annotations feature allowed all browser users to comment on any web page. The group annotations feature required a highly scalable server so the it was dropped.

Andreessen wrote back in 2012 that "I often wonder how the Internet would have turned out differently if users had been able to annotate everything – to add new layers of knowledge to all knowledge, on and on, ad infinitum. And so, 20 years later, Rap Genius finally gives us the opportunity to find out. It's an ambitious mission, and one we are proud to get behind."

The Genius API allows developers to integrate the annotation functionality of the Genius platform with websites and third-party applications. The API provides programmatic access to data from categories such as music, literature, history, news, sports, and more. The API also provides programmatic access to Genius Beta, the company’s new off-site product.

At the time of this writing, the Genius API provides four primary functions:

  • Create, Manage and View Annotations - Add, edit, and view annotations on any piece of text on the Internet, or on any song hosted on
  • Upvote and Downvote Annotations - Allows users to vote on annotations and earn Genius IQ.
  • Retrieve Information on Artists and Leverage Lyrics-Based Annotations – Programmatically access artist information and leverage the millions of lyrics-based annotations available on
  • Search Musical Metadata – Search Genius’s vast repository of musical metadata about artists, albums, and tracks.

ProgrammableWeb reached out to Genius CEO and co-founder Tom Lehman who provided information about the Genius platform. We also reached out to Genius engineer John Crepezzi who provided additional details about the Genius API.

Lehman told ProgrammableWeb that when it comes to spam "We employ different tools — several automated, some that are closely monitored by our community staff — to ensure (quite successfully!) that spam stays low." Regarding the possibility of an Android app he said that "There is quite the demand for a Genius Android app — watch this space!"

Regarding the Genius API, Crepezzi told ProgrammableWeb that the API is free to use that there are no plans to introduce paid API services at this time. He also said that "We’re excited to see the varied uses of the API. Certainly, third-party app developers are a good target, but we think our data has all kinds of other uses in education, music integrations, and off-site annotations, as well. We’re excited to see what people create along with us!"

Developers interested in using the Genius API can find detailed Documentation at

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