We know that messaging apps are hot in Asia right now. They’re so in demand these days that we even made a list of the hottest messaging apps earlier this year. But what if instead of talking to your peers, you could sing to them instead? This is now possible on Duets app.
Duets is a turn-based karaoke mobile app for iPhone. I’d say it’s a more entertaining way to communicate with friends than simply chatting or sending animated emoticons. Ben Wintle of Duets points out that this isn’t some sort of music game. “It’s like a messaging app, but instead of talking, you are singing to each other.”
Why the fuss over a karaoke app?
How does it work? First, find your friends on Facebook within Duets app, choose a song from the list and sing the first verse of the song with the help of a slick karaoke-style UI. Your buddy sings the next verse. This goes on alternately to the point where the user has to buy the song to finish singing it.
When the app first launched you could only sing with friends, but now users can sing with people they don’t know within the app. You can either pick a random name from Duets’ list of users, or search by “stage names” (the app’s term for username). Ben says that when the app first came out, many users were tweeting their stage names so that strangers could start duets with them.
I tried the app myself and in no time there were already a bunch of users who invited me to sing with them. If you ask me why it’s getting so much traction among Filipino users, I’d say it’s simply because Filipinos have this cultural affinity with karaoke and singing together. We don’t miss a chance to sing along with friends at any special occasion. Even restaurants cater to this. So making this functionality available on users’ smartphones through an app is a neat idea and makes it more of a social activity.
More English songs
Duets started its beta for users in the Philippines (where the app is made) last year with only 10 Filipino songs available. As it launched worldwide, the startup also secured global licensing deals with some major song publishers to build the app’s English song library. Ben admits that the biggest challenge to date has been to keep up with all the song requests they’re getting from users.
Right now, Ben says that most of their users are in the Philippines but their fastest growing source of new users is the US.
The startup earlier gained funding from Skype co-founder Tovio Annus. Duets is currently fundraising and plans to expand its song library and add other major languages with the fresh funds. An Android version is also in the pipeline as well as some other social music apps.
Of course, karaoke apps are not only a trend in the Philippines. Last year, we looked at how another iPhone karaoke app got its fame in China.
Get Duets for iOS in the App Store.
(Editing by: Steven Millward)