February 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm

MusicShake Brings Remix Apps to iPhone

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It’s notoriously difficult to convince people to pay a buck for an MP3. But what about the same song delivered as an interactive remix and recording app?

MusicShake, a Korean company that made a name for itself with an impressive little web remix app back in ’07, hopes people will pay $3 for an interactive iOS version of The Jackson 5′s “ABC,” which lets users create new versions of the song to amuse themselves and their friends using colored blocks — no musical experience necessary.

We’ve seen the Jackson 5 available for remix before, so someone in the Jackson 5′s camp must be somewhat remix-happy, but MusicShake’s version offers a new take on interactive music. (The company also offers a general remix app and several holiday-themed versions.) For starters, you can remix “ABC” by simply shaking the phone — it’s simple as do re mi.

Top the blocks to bring your chosen instruments in or out of the mix, and record your own voice using the record button at the bottom of the screen.

But really, you’ll have much more fun deciding when to bring certain instruments in and out of the mix (by tapping the blocks), switching to new instruments (by tapping the instruments in the left column), or even downloading an entirely new set of instruments to play around with and altering the genre of the song (to pop, new age, rock, latin, or electronica).

All of these perfectly-quantized, professionally recorded building blocks (some from the Jackson 5, and some from the MusicShake team) can be reassembled into seemingly countless arrangements of the song, which is great, and further customization is available through tweaking the volume of each track in the mix. But the feather in MusicShake’s cap is the ability for you to record your own voice singing along with all of this. This creates something absolutely unique that you can share on Facebook, MusicShake.com, or email, from right within the app.

It used to be that you had to know what you were doing with digital audio recording in order to do stuff like this, and even then, it might take a week. Now, you can make something worth sharing in minutes — or perhaps an hour, if you really want to explore the possibilities.


MusicShake charges $3 for this song, but you get so much more than just playback -- for instance, new genres are available for free download.

Competitive types can upload their creations to the MusicShake community for others to listen to, possibly making the service’s Top 100 chart or Hall of Fame.

So far, we don’t see MusicShake’s Jackson 5 remix app listed among the top 200 paid apps in the music section of the iTunes App Store, so it’s not exactly taking the world by storm. That could have something to do with the fact that “ABC” topped the charts about 41 years ago.

The Jackson 5 estate is remarkably permissive in licensing remix apps, but roadblocks remain for most other music. As licensing opens up to allow app developers to do this with songs that are topping the charts now, the potential for more popular songs to get this sort of treatment will be massive.

The continued airing of American Idol shows that a fair degree of interest exists for so-called “regular” people to hear each other singing. We’d be more interested if the contestants sang over their own versions of songs, and MusicShake and its ilk are already making that happen.