Sing is a social karaoke app that allows users to create solos, duets, and group songs and broadcast them on the Smule network. I had the pleasure of watching Sing grow from the black sheep in the family to the flagship product, representing the strongest community of any Smule app and the lifeblood of what we called the 'Smule Nation'. Users have created numerous self-organized groups they call ‘families’, some even printing special membership cards, meeting up in person, sharing hardships, forming relationships, and in several cases even getting married.
The heart of Sing isn’t just singing, it is singing together. This raises an unexpected amount of design challenges when it comes to co-creating, co-advertising, co-representing, and co-owning group songs—really, it makes everything a bit more confusing for the user and a lot more difficult for the designer. Although I was heavily involved in the 1.x and 2.x versions, 3.0 was the first version where I was running the show. Previous incarnations had been designed page-by-page and always doing what felt right for an individual screen resulted in a lot of different ways to do the same thing. I focused on cleaner pages and UX consistency across the core browsing experience while amping up the singing and listening experiences with fun and flashy UI.
Sing was certainly that app that got the bulk of my time during my days at Smule, especially if you count the year we spent completing the 3D, dancing, tickle-able, spin-able, laser-shooting karaoke robot that was never released. At the end of the robot days, our fearless leader Jeannie decided our untested preconception that ‘just singing social karaoke wasn’t enough’ was wrong, and that people would just want to sing together without the gimmicks. Millions of users and tens of millions of performances later I think it is safe to assume she was right.