Smule, developer of music apps such as Magic Piano and Sing!, has launched a program that will help connect bands with fans. Called the Smule Artist Program, the initiative provides artists and labels access to 20 million active users who, through their creative efforts on Smule apps, have already shown a strong interest in music.
The free program pairs Smule with artists in bespoke campaigns. The process starts in Smule's karaoke app, Sing! A band uploads an instrumental version of a song and uses Sing! to add a vocal track. Fans then record duets by singing along to the new version in Smule's catalog. Smule can them take the band's vocals and create versions in its Magic Piano and Guitar! apps. Bands can interact with fans by commenting on their submissions.
Compared to social media and other forms of artist-fan communication, the engagement on a Smule platform is more organic and genuine, says Smule's Turner Kirk. "It's the next best thing to actually going to a band's show if they're not touring. You can get the intimate experience of being at the show, singing the song while they perform."
Previous artist partnerships, launched before the debut of the formal artist program, have generated impressive numbers. The "Sing With OK Go" campaign resulted in 6,000 performances of the band's song "Writing's On The Wall" and 1.1 million ad impressions. Sales of Todd Carey's single "Nintendo" rose 300 percent and the song was played 1.2 million times in the Magic Piano app.
Bright Antenna is the program's first label partner. The label will release music by the Wombats, Beware of Darkness and Flagship, which has already released "Are You Calling" into the Sing! karaoke app and plans to add two more songs into Smule's catalog.
Scott Schumaker, managing partner of Bright Antenna, says the large user base and potential for a deep connection with listeners can help Smule users become fans in a way not possible with the more impersonal exchanges of social media platforms. "We're excited because the potential seems enormous."
Kirk says Smule can work closely with about two bands per month if it wants to give each one close attention. But he adds any band can get their music onto Smule's apps without the promotion of Smule's artist program. "There's no upper limit to the number of bands that can use this platform."