Sing! by Smule is one of those apps I wish I had stumbled upon ages ago. I stumbled upon the app by accident. I was trying out beatbox type apps to test my non-existent rapping skills and Sing! was one of the recommended apps to try out during my search. It was “free”, so I decided to give it a go.
While $7.99 a month can appear pricey just for an app, the cost benefits are immediate the first time you skip karaoke night at the bar. Besides, the health benefits of singing alone justify the cost.
Not convinced to shell out $8 a month for a singing app? Read on for a thorough review, as well as some tips and a wish list for the app.
Sing! Where Have You Been All My Karaoke Adult Life?
I’ve been doing karaoke for years! I even remember my first karaoke song: First Date by Blink 182.
I am far from above posting embarrassing karaoke attempts online. When I got a new headset, I found an instrumental and did a (barely?) passable attempt at After Midnight by Blink 182 (below).
While I don’t expect you to listen to my atrocious nasally voice, there’s several things going on here that are more difficult than they seem.
First, I’m singing without lyric timing. Granted, I had the lyrics open right in front of me, but you need to know the song extremely well to associate the lyrics with the appropriate time in the song.
Also not shown is the recording software I used, the endless editing, getting the timing right, making sure the instrumental is synced, etc. It’s not hard, but it’s time consuming and can be frustrating. You’re essentially your own cameraperson and sound engineer. Which is fine, right? We want that control.
However, what if a service could make what I did with the above video dead simple? Throw in a bunch more songs, add the social aspect of collaboration, audio and video filters, and boom, you have a mostly winning service in the form of Sing! karaoke.
Sing Practically Anything
When I first checked out Sing!, I was initially confused. Granted, the app didn’t know me yet, so I wasn’t quite sure what to do.
The Microphone icon was my first best friend. It showed me a list of recommended songs to sing. My first Sing! song was Yellow by Coldplay.
As I began searching for songs, the lightbulbs started going off. Most of the songs I could think of singing were available with great ratings.
Ratings on songs help determine the overall quality of the song, including the backing track and the lyric accuracy and timing.
Finding the Right Song
From the Sing! recommended screen, you can view a list of recommended songs, top hits, and narrow down by specific categories. It’s a decent way to see what’s trendy and highly rated. You can also browse by specific genres.
As you start singing more and start following people, you’ll start receiving invites. Invites are fun, but they’re only as good as the people you follow. For example, most of my invites are for songs not in English. Which is fine. I still want to follow them for that occasional English ballad or pop song.
Of course there is also search, and it works surprisingly well!
The Singing Experience
I’m going to come at this from a duet perspective since singing solo is quite a similar experience.
Joining a duet is easy. Just find the song you want to sing, and and select “View Invites” if there are any available.
Once I’ve selected “View Invites”, I can browse the different versions available. Usually there are multiple singers and I can quickly preview each version to screen out the ones I don’t want to join.
Once you’ve found a version you like, you’re matched with the singer. When I first started with Sing!, I foolishly thought I was singing with somebody in real time so I got super nervous and “rage quit.” Don’t make my mistake! You can restart, rewind (unless using video), and quit and come back anytime you like.
The lyrics come at you karaoke style and they’re one of the main reasons why to pick a highly rated song. If the lyrics are poorly timed, it can really screw up the song!
The individual parts are separated out by color. With duets and group songs, you can stick to parts, or you can even just ignore them and make up your own parts.
Some lyrics simply display like the credits at the end of a movie. However, as shown in the screenshot above, some lyrics help you with the key of the song.
Some songs even have the option for a piano backing track that will help keep you on the right key when singing.
Finally, there are filters, or as I call them, singing cheats. And yes I use them and love them. I have no shame.
Joining Duets and Group Collaborations Are Amazing
Check out the invites from your followers. You’ll help them out and have fun while doing it!
When you’re searching for a song you want to sing, check out the Invites list. Consider joining the many people requesting vocalists.
I usually preview several versions before deciding which one to join (I’m mostly looking for a compatible voice).
Group collaborations are equally fun if you can find a good one. With Group Collaborations, multiple people can help with a track. For example, I recently uploaded a Sing! track that has up to 5 parts.
Creating Duets is Amazing
Have you ever perused a karaoke bar seeking a duet partner? For example, I know the rap part in Love the Way You Lie. There is no way in hell, however, I can sing the Rihanna part with my balls still attached.
I can just create a duet, make up my own parts, and ask future collaborators that I need help with the Rihanna part.
Duets are also super fun for the songs you know well. Just create a duet, sing the recommended parts, and allow other singers to join you. It’s amazingly entertaining listening to the various versions.
Creating Group Collaborations Has Potential
Group songs are fun, but can get horrible pretty fast. Six people can join a group collaboration, belt out their best amateur vocals, and be utterly destroyed by the seventh singer who had a shit ton of background noise.
However, when done right, group songs are amazing.
Freestyle is Okay
I have yet to see the potential for Freestyle, but I have seen some Sing! users to use it as their “open mic” contribution.
I love Sing! I’m surprised it is as cheap as it is, but hey, I’m not complaining.
I am a bit worried about the copyright ramifications and its future. However, if I were a recording artist, I would highly embrace this service.
When my friend joined a duet for “Play That Song” and she realized she was singing with the actual singer, her eyes lit up. She felt connected to the artist.
For me, personally, I listen to the crap out of a song before I attempt it at karaoke. This means I’m watching official lyrics videos on YouTube Red, listening to the song on repeat in my car via Apple Music… what I’m getting at here is if you’re an artist, I don’t see Smule as your revenue. Your revenue is us.
Now For Some Tips
Create duets. And create more duets! And then create some group songs.
Why? Well, for one, it’s fun to see all of the variations. And even a group song that starts out atrocious can be redeemed with the right singers.
The main reason? To get fans (ahem, followers).
The more duets and group songs you have out there, the more discoverable you are. As a result, you’ll get more views. More views mean more chances for likes, which mean even more views.
As people join your duets, you’ll start to gain followers.
So if you’re after likes and followers, create duets.
As with the previous tip, join duets to gain likes and followers as well. You’ll also want to join duets to nurture your fans (aka, people who follow you).
Joining duets is also a great way to contribute to the Smule community. There are many singers out there requesting duets, and I can vouch that I am always excited to see when someone has joined my duet.
Nurture Your Fans
Like people who join your duets. Comment and @ mention the collaborator thanking them.
Send a private message and express gratitude.
In short, be nice, appreciative, and humble. Karma will follow you in the form of increased engagement with your own efforts.
Rate the Songs
Rating the songs up or down with accurate reasons helps everybody in the Smule community. It’ll help the person creating the songs improve, and it’ll help singers find the best quality songs.
Match the Filter of the Singer
If you’re joining a duet and the singer has posted their filter, do your best to match the same filter so that the sound is consistent across both voices.
Do Your Homework on Duets
Listen to the entire song at least once to get a feel for the song quality and vocalist. From there you can determine key, filter, and even parts the singer may have missed unintentionally.
Many public duet and group requests have instructions. Do your best to adhere to them.
Join Your Own Duet
Absolutely join your own duet! Hell, even give it a like when you’re done!
Headphones Are a Requirement
I’m not even sure if it’s possible to use the service without headphones, but there are some horrible sounding singers on the service. And I’m not dishing on anyone’s voice. We’re all trying, right? What I’m talking about is the overabundance of background noise.
Try to find somewhere quiet if possible, especially if you’re joining a duet or group song.
Make Group Songs Private
If you’ve accumulated enough followers to do this, awesome!
Find some like-minded singers and coordinate a group song. Make the group song private, and each one can join in. When the time period has elapsed, make the song public and share at whim.
General Karaoke Tips
Now Onto the Sing! Wish List
Now for my wish list! Here are things I wish the Sing! app had or did better.
Stop Shutting Off My Music When I Open the App
Dude! Please stop doing this! Nine times out of ten I’m just checking my notifications. I don’t want to stop listening to my other music or YouTube.
The only time I want you messing with my sound is when I play a song or join a song. Esa es todo.
Please add oEmbed support. I’ll even help write the WordPress plugin for it and try to get it into WordPress Core. Pasting in iFrames suuuucks!
You run out of characters fast when typing out instructions for that duet or group collaboration.
Better Hashtag Visibility
As of this writing, I still don’t see the point of the hashtags in the app. Perhaps something similar to Twitter’s trending topics?
Better Group Controls
A way to reject a singer from a group collaboration with a positive message would alleviate the problem of one bad apple. The only current solution is to make the group private, but that would require a group of friends on Smule, which is easier said than done.
Background Noise Detection
Better background noise filtering please!
Play Over Bluetooth
Please, pretty please can I please please please play my Sing! songs over my Bluetooth speaker? Please?
It’s your turn! What do you think of Sing! by Smule? Do you have your own tips? Do you have your own wish list items?
Please weigh in in the comments. PS: Leave your favorite Sing! recording as part of the URL field in your comment! I’d love to check it out.