It’s amazing what a good song can do to connect people and bring their worlds closer together. Think about the legacy Coca-Cola created and where it would be today without their iconic “Hilltop” ad? Or the music that defined Apple marketing over the last decade and a half? Hell, a day doesn’t go by when I don’t hear a certain Seger song and think about my employer.
But beyond brand taglines, a good song can change everything from moods to cultures.
If you’re in a bar and a certain song comes on and the vibe is just different, it evokes the kinds of things that you want to feel, and if music can do that it’s a very special thing.
– Julian Casablancas
Over the last 3 months I’ve fallen in love with performing music again, and Smule has helped enable it. Founded in 2008, they’ve used the nearly $90 million dollars raised through seven rounds of investment to create a number of music-related applications like Sing! Karaoke, Magic Piano, Guitar!, and AutoRap.
It’s estimated that they have over 200 million users and 35 million engaged content creators from around the world. Consistently ranked in the top 5 best apps in its genre, Smule has created a social network powerhouse all on its own. Built around the concept of singing duets with complete strangers, on any given day I may sing a song with someone in Australia, Indonesia, Brazil and Canada.
What I find the most fascinating though is how Smule has incorporated mainstream artists organically, with huge engagement numbers to back up their platform as a vehicle to launch new songs. Want to sing Grace’s new single “You Don’t Own Me”? Or NE-YO’s “Let Me Love You”? JessieJ’s song “Flashlight” has been listened to nearly 8 million times through the app, with thousands of duet performances. While the duets are asynchronous, there’s an authenticity in the Smule community’s reactions to singing with artists that suspends belief and makes you think for a fleeting moment that “OMG…Mary Sue is singing with Luke Bryan!!!”
What’s next? I don’t know. I’ve gone on record saying that I truly believe they have the opportunity to become the next YouTube. Partnerships with mainstream music-based television shows such as X-Factor and The Voice are natural extensions. Singing Selfies? Yes, they’re a thing. True brand integrations? Why couldn’t Hilltop be recreated through Smule?
The first seven years of Smule’s existence, they’ve been under the radar, despite extremely high user engagement. I think the next seven will prove just how powerful the intersection of mobile, music and social media can become.
In the meantime, if you’d like to connect on Smule, you can find me here.
I’ve always felt that the quality of the voice is where the real content of a song lies. Words only suggest an experience, but the voice is that experience. – Jeff Buckley