Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Play “American Idol” From the Comfort of Your Phone With StarMaker Karaoke App (Video)

We are living in the future, and the future can be pretty darn fun.

A neat karaoke iPhone app called StarMaker will let you lay down your voice to today’s hottest pop songs, with a little — or a lot of — help from instant Auto-Tune. Then you can submit your track to the greater StarMaker community, and win prizes for your natural-born and/or computer-aided talent.

Due in part to its founders’ history doing brand promotions in the music industry, the seed-funded, 10-employee StarMaker Interactive already has music licenses from the major labels, including EMI, Sony, Warner and Universal. The company’s current catalog isn’t huge — about 500 songs — but it contains Justin Bieber and Rihanna, plus karaoke favorites like “Baby Got Back.” Tracks, which come with timed lyrics, instrumentals and guide vocals within the app, cost less than a dollar each.

StarMaker CEO Jeff Daniel showed off how his flagship app works in a video interview this week, and he didn’t even blink when I asked him to sing for us.

Daniel isn’t sharing too many usage stats just yet, but StarMaker is one of the top App Store free music offerings, with millions of recordings made per month, he said. Users tend to upload the same song over and over again as they perfect their performance, which Daniel described as a show of true fandom that he thinks will help continue to convince labels that licensing music to StarMaker is a good idea.

StarMaker gives out prizes every two weeks, based on user votes, with a current contest sponsored by Mike and Ike and Hot Tamales candies. Upcoming features will make StarMaker feel more like a game, with user feedback and scores on vocal skills, Daniel said.

Users can’t yet download their masterpieces as MP3s, but they can stream them and share them on Facebook and Twitter. (Here’s a link to a user profile page with a particularly good rendition of “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love” that the StarMaker folks recommended.)

San Francisco-based StarMaker is seed funded by investors including Qualcomm Ventures and Grupo Reforma Ventures.

I also recently interviewed another karaoke start-up called Singboard, which incorporates official music videos.

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