By Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
It’s weird to buy someone a music app as a gift for the holidays, or any other time for that matter. Depending on the platform, you might be able to buy them store credits or a gift of the app itself — but either way, you don’t have anything to wrap, unless you feel like wrapping a gift card or a printed receipt.
MusiXmatch, a music app that puts song lyrics on smartphones, on computers, in Spotify, and soon in Google Glass, is selling a hardware microphone that connects to iOS devices for presumed karaoke splendor.
That microphone, built by hardware friends to the music app scene IK Multimedia, costs $80, so it should sound pretty good, considering that we’ve seen USB microphones for karaoke software sell for under $20 (granted, some of this is the standard markup for making something that connects to one of Apple’s proprietary connectors). On top of that, one needs to subscribe to MusiXmatch’s karaoke feature, which costs $2-$15 per month, depending on how serious they want to get about their karaoke.
So, why would someone want the MusiXmatch microphone and karaoke feature, even though they cost less than the average karaoke machine?
Well, they would have to be:
A) A fairly serious karaoke person, or maybe just an enthusiastic shower/car vocalist, and
B) Someone who wants to sing songs other than the usual Top 40.
As for the latter point, there are cheaper ways to sing Top 40 karaoke music. The reason someone with weirder taste would want MusiXmatch instead is that it works with any of the seven-million-plus songs for which MusiXmatch has lyrics. You don’t need to hunt down karaoke files or settle for cheesy MIDI files — you can play any song you want, and if it has the lyrics, MusiXmatch will get rid of the vocals so you can sing.
“The app identifies the vocal frequency and the user can adjust the volume of the vocal to soften it and use it as a guide or completely strip it out,” explained MusiXmatch spokesman Ben Camm-Jones via email.
We’ve heard that approach (of using equalization to remove vocals for karaoke) before. It could make the music sound slightly weird, as well as leaving traces of the vocals, but nobody will notice either thing when you’re belting out your version of indie music nobody in their right mind would transcribe as a karaoke file, or whatever else you — or your giftee — want to sing.