Guest post by Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
Voice calling has become something many of us do only as a last resort if we can’t text, email, tweet, or Facebook. Those work great, in part because they’re less intrusive to the person on the other side. (Don’t even get me started on voicemail, which is like saying “I value your time so little that I refuse to type this.”) By turning voice communication into a music app, Melod.io for iOS and Android (not to be confused with the HP-purchased Melodeo) hopes to give people a new reason to employ their vocal cords for mobile communication.
The concept is fairly simple — you pick three elements, designated by the red, blue, and green note symbols: the loop, the beat, and the sound effect. Once you’re happy with the combination (it only takes seconds), play it to get a feel for what it is, then record your voice singing, rapping — or merely speaking over it until you hit pause or the app cuts you off at around 30 seconds.
You can upload your creation to the cloud and share it via email, Twitter, Facebook, or SMS. Do you have something to say to someone? Are you in a wacky mood? Sending your message as a Melod.io message could make an impression in a way that a normal voice call or text message does not.
“What we’re trying to do is not so much entertainment in trying to make you be able to sing — and I think that makes us different from Songify, where the main thing is that your voice sounds beautiful,” said Melod.io CEO Jonathan Massey. ”With Melod.io… it’s more about trying to get your personal message across and sharing it with your friends and family. In social media, more people are sharing content these days… There’s a great app called IAmBeatbox, and they’re absolutely massive in the way they mix different loops and beats, but then they haven’t added any kind of voice capability, and their application is more about making music. We’ve kind of wrapped these two great apps together — we didn’t think about copying them, but perhaps you could say that we’re almost in between those two apps.”
Melod.io hopes bands and brands will be interested in promoting stuff on this, the web player that handles playback once you've shared a link.
After you share a track you’ve recorded with Melod.io, you unlock the otherwise-$1 Happy Birthday pack, which lets you send musical birthday greetings to any of your friends, for free (other packs include Dubstep, which is free if you Like Melod.io on Facebook, as well as Dance, Reggae, Hip Hop, Electro, Drum & Bass, and Dance Party, available for purchase). If you pay attention to music copyright news, you might remember that “Happy Birthday” can be difficult to license — copyright issues even blocked the Girl Scouts from singing it. Massey told Evolver.fm that he secured the licensing from Warner for “Happy Birthday” fairly easily, though, because the version in this app doesn’t include singing or lyrics.
He also said he launched Minus Degree with COO Samu Keränen after 18 years at Nokia, after there were “opportunities for layoffs.” (The short story: Massey received time to develop Melod.io as part of the “Nokia Bridge” program alongside a voluntary redundancy package.)
In our testing of Melod.io it proved mostly worthy of your iPhone or Android, although we ran into a few hiccups. The app’s “Harmonize” function doesn’t appear to add any harmony to your singing, but it does try to Auto-Tune your voice. In our testing, it actually nudged one of our notes off-key, and generally didn’t sound too great, which is why we recommend using this app with the default setting: your own natural, un-”Harmonized” voice.
You can also pitch-shift your singing up or down, but Melodio doesn’t let you hear how that’s going to sound with the music until you tap Done, after which you can no longer edit the track. So basically, you give it your best shot, take a listen, and decide whether or not to share.
That’s why this app works best if you keep it simple — choose a loop or effect that sounds good to you, lay down your rhymes, singing, shouting, ranting, or singing of “Happy Birthday” (always a popular choice), and then decide whether to share it. We had fun asking someone to dinner with the dubstep track and generally horsing around with this app, but your mileage may vary.
Melod.io is free for now; Massey is still working out when to start charging and what to charge. Another revenue opportunity, he said, lies in creating branded versions of Melod.io with special song packs for marketers to offer customers or would-be customers.