Glee comes to the iPhone with help of Smule

Chris Caceres · April 15, 2010 · Short URL:

Fox Interactive and Smule team up to launch official Glee app... some wild karaoke fun

Now here's an app for all of you who deep down inside wish you could sing like a star.  Smule and Fox Interactive have partnered to release an iPhone and iPad musical app called Glee.

It's a counterpart to the popular TV show, also called Glee, which could described as a sort of post-modern musical comedy-drama, about high-school kids who sing in this Glee club.

To be quite honest, I don't really watch the show, minus a few YouTube clips I checked out to see how it related to the application. 

For me, every one of Smule's apps touches on an interesting aspect of the musical spectrum, so being this app is all about the voice definitely caught my attention.

"It's like karaoke on speed," Dr. Ge Wang, chief creative officer at Smule told me.  I was hesitant to believe him, but once I tried it out, his words definitely stood as an appropriate description to this app.

What the app does is allows users to sing along to hit songs from the TV show, which you may be familiar with like, "Rehab," by Amy Winehouse, or my personal favorite, "Keep me Hanging On," originally made famous by the Supremes.  It then takes a users voice to the next level by detecting and correcting their pitch, and even doubling up voices so you get those neat harmonic effects you hear on professional recordings.

"We built the technology from the ground up," explained Dr. Wang who assured me this was a completely brand new architecture.  Smule also built a similar app called I Am T-Pain which lets a user sing along to T-Pain tracks and adds that wild AutoTune digital effect I'm sure you're familiar with, originally created by Antares.  This new one designed for Glee was purely made by Smule.

Beyond serving as an entertaining karaoke-style game, Glee is packed with social features.  Users can add their voice to others tracks across the signature Smulean globe, as well as add other people's vocals to their own tracks.  A sort of "multistage collaborative recording" process, as described by Dr. Wang. 

Following the TV show tradition, users can form their own Glee clubs, which can be completely anonymous like Chat Roulette (random people), or with their own friends.  And of course, the application integrates with Facebook and Twitter by letting users share their songs over the social network in hopes friends will join in to add new layers to their tracks.

Unfortunately, the app isn't free, but the technology behind it is definitely worth the $2.99 price tag.  If you're into recording music, you can sing in freestyle mode and see what you can come up with.  Also, Dr. Wang told me the app would be updated on a weekly basis with new songs from the show you can purchase for $0.99 a piece.  He also said on the server side, the technology which mixes multiple users voices together will continue to improve.

In the end, Dr. Wang told me he's always had an idea for a crazy karaoke app.  The partnership between Smule and Fox Interactive was a "homerun match."  Wang said, "it's very social, very Smulean, we're getting people to make music, lowering their inhibitions, and making use of crazy audio technology for self-expression."

Check out the video of a very talented engineer at Smule demoing the app, you'll get a better feel for its unique sound and audio capabilities.  Oh, and if you want a behind the scenes look at Palo Alto, Ca.-based Smule's crazy startup culture, check out our most recent episode of Startup Sessions.

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Smule develops interactive sonic applications for the iPhone and other technology platforms.   Smule is developing the new sonic network, connecting users across the globe through expressive audio.  Smule's Ocarina, I Am T-Pain, and Leaf Trombone have set the standard for iPhone applications, combining innovative uses of the hardware with compelling social experiences. 


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