Khush, the company that released LaDiDa (remember the "reverse Karaoke" app that takes a poorly-sung song and Auto-Tunes it into an arguably passable rendition), has gone a step further with its automatic song creation technology in its latest iPhone app, Songify.
Songify takes spoken text and then tunes, chops, and sequences it with pre-written backround music into what's supposed to be a little musical number.
It's fun for a bit, but there's only so much you can do with some of the source material. See the example below, which is a Songified version of me reading a paragraph from Apple's
iTunes license agreement:
To see what you can really do with this material, check out Richard Dreyfus reading the same text.
As The New York Times aptly puts it, Songify the kind of thing, "that your friends will be waving in your face for a week until they tire of it, or until you scream at them to stop."
But it is, at least, free, and in that fact is a small tale. Songify's sister app, LaDiDa, was initially priced at $2.99, which made Khush into a profitable company. Then, in an experiment to gauge interest in the app, CEO Prerna Gupta told me, Khush made it free.
"The response was dramatic," she says: A million people downloaded the app in a week. Backing off from this model, which at first Gupta thought wouldn't work at all, Khush raised the price to $0.99, but included only four music styles in the app. Others were available for purchase.
"That pricing has been working out quite well," Gupta says. Revenues are about the same as when the app cost three times as much, but the number of users is way up, and exposure to follow-on, in-app sales of song styles is higher, as is the opportunity to use the app as a marketing or advertising vehicle.
For the new Songify app, the price is $0.00, at least for the time being. There are in-app purchases for additional song style templates and the app is also used to market other, non-free Khush apps. "Which are essentially in-app purchases," Gupta calculates.
Gupta says Khush's long-term strategy is "to make less money but from more people." Which, when it comes to software and online services that carry extremely small incremental costs of goods, makes sense. Having more users is strategic, as it means a bigger customer base for follow-on sales.
However, there's a big difference between making a little money per new user, and making no money. Free apps can be dangerous, and I'll have a real-world example of why and how in an upcoming story.