What started as a way of training classical musicians has turned into an iPhone application for people to take “musical selfies” and share them with their friends online. Along the way, MuseAmi, a Nassau Street-based software company, has helped launch a video game craze, (its software was at the heart of the hit games “Guitar Hero” and “DJ Hero”) and developed some of the most advanced pitch correcting software in the world.
The company’s latest product is Hook’d, a music app that aims to be the musical equivalent of the photo sharing app Instagram. The software hit the iTunes store Thursday, July 10. It allows Apple mobile device users to record themselves singing along to pop tracks, replacing the artist’s voice with their own, and then share the video with their contacts on Hook’d, YouTube, and the usual social networking sites.
Robert Taub, co-founder of the company, says Hook’d is a way of making music active and social again. Taub, a concert pianist and former artist in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, says people nowadays mostly listen to music privately, on headphones, and that Hook’d aims to restore the interactivity of music for average people. “We’re very interested in participatory music,” Taub says. “We are interested in unleashing everyone’s inner creativity by allowing people to get around any hurdles for entry. What Hook’d does is make you sound good with pitch correction, reverb, and echo, and allow you to interact with a song that you know and love in less than 30 seconds.”
There is a selection of 30-second to minute-long song choruses available for free. To make a Hook’d video, you plug in headphones, hear the backing track with the option of hearing the singer, too, as the lyrics scroll across the screen. When you are done, you have the option of posting the video, and you can add studio effects and pitch correction. To sing an entire song, you buy it for 99 cents, or a themed bundle, such as a “hip-hop pack,” at a discount.
“There’s a fantasy element to it,” said Ed Hynes, a sales and marketing veteran and chief operating officer of MuseAmi. “When you sit in your car, and you can sing along to a favorite song of yours, you get out of your car and it’s over. With Hook’d, you have a little bit of reverb and you can become godlike for a moment, and make a permanent record of it.”
MuseAmi Inc., 20 Nassau Street, Suite 250 E, Princeton 08542; 609-917-3000; Robert Taub, president & CEO. www.museami.com.