Smule’s AutoRap app turns words into hip hop magic

Smule, along with Khush, the fellow music app maker it bought last year, have helped users sing their way to greatness with apps like I Am T-Pain, Songify, Glee and LaDiDa. But the combined Smule team hasn’t explored a true rapping app until now, with the release of AutoRap. The app is available for iOS (s aapl) and Android (s goog) and is the first time Smule has simultaneously shipped versions for both platforms.
The app lets users talk into the app and then maps their words to the beats of different songs, creating a syncopated stream of lyrics that repeat and stutter. The app also latches on to phrases and words and turns them into musical auto-tuned hooks for the intro and chorus. You can rap to a list of generic beats or there’s a library of premium tunes that you can rap over, including California Love, Drop it like it’s hot and O.P.P. Premium tracks sell for $1.99 for 40 plays while generic freestyle tracks start at $1.99 for 60 plays after a handful of free plays.
My wife and I tried out the app by writing a going-away song for my brother in law. The results were really cool, taking a small investment in some lyrics and turning it into a very polished song. The algorithm treats the lyrics different each time, so reading in words multiple times produces different beats and hooks. Unfortunately, the app can’t really understand when I’m rhyming so it doesn’t know how to couple certain lines together to highlight the rhymed words. But Prerna Gupta, the former CEO of Khush, told me that’s in the works for version 2.
Gupta, the inventor of the app, said AutoRap was something both Smule and Khush had contemplated in the past and it made sense as the first original IP to emerge since the companies joined forces. She said people used to use Khush’s LaDiDa app to rap sometimes. And I am T-Pain and Songify also created cool singing melodies. Building AutoRap was a matter of combining some of the existing technology and building new algorithms that map syllables to a rhythmic grid.
With AutoRap, Smule is also investing more in Android, pushing out the first title to ship at the same time on Android and iOS. That follows Smule’s move to finally support Android with titles like Songify and Magic Piano. Gupta said in the first few weeks of Songify on Android, that version was making about 70 percent of the iOS version. That was a bit of a surprise, considering many developers only see 20-25 percent of revenue coming from Android apps compared to their iOS apps, said Gupta.
“We are monetizing a lot better than expected on Android,” Gupta said. “It’s not on par with iOS, but we feel the Android platform is moving in that direction. It’s an exciting platform, that’s why we wanted to start trying to simultaneously ship.”