If you used our Smule downloader service over the last weeks, you might have noticed some problems here and there. But I am happy to say that since November 12, 2020, we now have a completely new downloader service, which works better than ever. But first some back-story …
I started Sing.Salon in 2016 as a community website for Smule users. Until then, Smule singers would connect through Facebook and Line groups, but I do not think that one endless chat is a good way to run a community. So I started a dedicated website just for Smule users. The site was always run as a personal side-project. The goal was to provide helpful information around Smule and a forum for discussions so that Smule users could share their experience and help each other.
A download service was later added and it quickly became one of the most-used sections of the website. In fact, with hundreds of thousands of users it became almost too popular! Two problems arose:
The website became hard to manage. If there were problems or changes on Smule’s end, the download service could fail and thousands of Sing.Salon members a day were unhappy and were flooding the website with complaints. For a personal side-project, that became too much work to handle.
You might not know it, but Smule doesn’t officially support services like ours. In fact, if an external service creates thousands of requests a day to Smule’s servers, Smule can identify these connections and shut them down permanently. And that is exactly what happened.
Because of both of these problems, the download service as it was running the last years couldn’t be continued anymore. It came down to two choices: I considered shutting down the download service and with that, maybe even the entire website. Of course that would solve the problems around handling the support of the website and its tens of thousands of users.
Another option was to actually put more work into the site and raise it to the level of a professional service. And that’s the step I took now.
Screenshot of the new Sing.Salon downloader service
Our current download service is completely new. It was created again from scratch and many aspects were improved in the new version. It is now much more reliable and convenient. Instead of just processing the downloads on-the-fly and then discarding the data, your download requests are now stored for seven days on our server. This gives us the chance to monitor if the service is working correctly and we can investigate potential problems.
The download requests to Smule are now distributed around the globe using a professional crawling service. This makes the service faster, more reliable and future-proof. But this comes at a price. Sing.Salon now needs to pay considerable monthly fees to use this external service and that’s why the free use of our service — while still possible — is not unlimited anymore. You get a certain amount of download credits you can use within every week. If you want to download more songs, you need to become a Sing.Salon supporter. Then you can download up to several thousand songs within the one-year subscription period. And you are also supporting this website, so that we can keep it going and improve and extend it further in the future.
By the way: using our download service also means your songs can get featured on our site. Popular downloads of the last seven days are featured on our site and shown to thousands of Sing.Salon members. (Private songs are excluded from this.)
This is something Smule users have requested for years: you now have granular control over the type of events you receive push notifications for. So for example: you can turn off the hundreds of OC invite notifications you receive when you follow many people, but still get alerted if someone sends you a message or invites you to a Live Jam.
You can find the new options under “Push Notifications” on the settings page when you run the latest version of Smule. This was rolled out to both the Apple and the Android version.
Smule has introduced a new feature called “Smule styles” or “templates”. It’s a combination of audio and video effects specific to certain songs. So instead of using the generic filters like Paris, Rio, Oslo and so on, you can create a solo or collab that has the feel of a music video for that specific song. Here are two examples:
There is a new banner in the app which highlights open calls using these filters and you can also search for the tag #SmuleStyles. Here are a few songs which currently have templates, when you pick the OC from the official Smule songbook:
Sorry not sorry by Demi Lovato
Into the Unknown from Disney’s Frozen 2
Take on Me by A-Ha
Kings & Queens by Ava Max
With a little help from my Friends by The Beatles
Of course you can also open songs yourself using these filters. If you open a song from the official songbook that has a template, you will see a preview on the splash screen and a button to turn the template on or off (see image below). With a template activated, the usual settings for audio and video filters are turned off.
Many Smule users like to share their best performances through social media. But on Instagram, a regular post is limited to one minutes and stories can’t even be more than 15 seconds long. To post full Smule performances you would need to use Instagram’s IGTV. But there is a catch: IGTV videos are always in a 9:16 (portrait mode) aspect ratio. When you add your square Smule videos, they are being scaled up and cropped, which makes the use of IGTV for native Smule videos almost impossible.
The videos are blurry and the only half of the faces of the singers in a duet are visible. So we need to prepare our videos first before uploading them to IGTV. And here are several options to do this.
Online Conversion service
Especially when using a desktop computer, you can conveniently convert your Smule video online in a browser window. After you downloaded your Smule video performance through our download service, head over to Kapwing’s Resize Video feature and upload your video:
Kapwing Resize Video
(Pro tip: You don’t even have to download the video first. You can also just copy the target URL from our download button and use this URL with the Kapwing’s service.)
On the next page, click the buttons Story (Snap/Insta) or IGTV and No Crop. That’s it! You are good to go and you can click the “Create” button to generate your video. Optionally, you can also change the background color, move and scale the video and even trim it.
You can then download your video. As a guest user, there will be a watermark in the video, but you can create an account to remove it. In both cases, the service is completely free! The only downside is that the upload and creation of the video takes some time.
If you want to create IGTV videos more often or directly on your mobile device, a dedicated app might be a better solution.
Mobile apps to convert to IGTV’s aspect ratio
A commercial app for iOS
Not surprisingly, app makers understood the need to convert videos for IGTV. A sophisticated (but not cheap option) for mobile Apple device is this:
Video Resizer for IGTV Editor
Just pick the Smule video from device and make sure the 9:16 aspect ratio is selected. There are tons of additional options to style your videos, like adding backgrounds and custom animated titles. Having these options has its price. The app requires a monthly subscription fee.
A free app for Android
Our suggestion for Android users is this app:
Crop and Trim Video
The app is free but shows ads. On the first screen (left picture) choose No Crop and pick the video from your device. Then choose the 9:16 ratio (middle picture). Finally, you can customize your video by choosing what will be displayed above and below your video (right picture). By default, it will be a blurred version of the Smule video, which looks quite nice. But you can also add decorative elements and custom pictures. Once you confirm the selection, your IGTV video will be generated and you can download it to your device.
Using video editing software
In addition to the mentioned apps and services dedicated to resizing a video, you can of course also use any video editor, especially the ones made to create content for mobile devices. A recommendable free and platform-independent app is Adobe Rush. It’s available for PC, Mac, iOS and Android and you can even sync your projects among the different platforms. Getting used to full working with video editors will take some time though.
Which apps and service are you using to prepare your Smule video for social media sharing? Do you have other recommendations? Feel free to post them in the comments.
Smule just launched a new feature in the iOS app. When you start a new solo or collab, you have a new option to chose “clip” instead of “full song”. This will allow to only record a part of the song, usually the first chorus.
Clips can vary in length but are usually around 30 seconds to one minute. The music will automatically fade in and out. Smule Clips are an easy and fast way to record on Smule and then share the result on social media without having to get the entire song perfectly right.
Here is an example of a clip recording:
Smule just launched a new feature on the app called “gifts” and with that a new payment options called “coins”. As Smule puts it, “Gifts are the newest, most expressive way to show your appreciation for the performances you love”.
Gifts are essentially animated little stickers you can send to someone if you like their performance and you can also add a personal message along with most gifts. The feature is more personal and more prominent than the previous options of liking and commenting songs. While like and comments are public and can be left by anyone, gifts are a paid and personal option. While performances show the number of received gifts, the gift itself, the people giving them and their messages are only visible for the singers receiving the gifts. For this a new tab on the Activity section of the app was added.
To send most gifts you need to buy coins in advance. Coins are essentially a virtual currency that only exists within the Smule service. The gift prices vary greatly, so one can spend a few cents per gift or well over US$ 40 for the most expensive one. Smule makes it clear in their terms of service that the coins are not a real currency. The purchase of coins is not refundable, the value of the coins may change at any time and the coin service might be changed or stopped. But the coin service is probably here to stay and could easily be extended to other features like paid video/audio filters.
Currently Smule hasn’t officially announce the gift service or updated their help and FAQ sections with more details. We will extend this article when more information emerges.
Feel free to comment below to tell us how you like the new feature.
While going live on Smule you can now apply real-time video effects, which change your appearance in ways you might know from apps like Snapchat.
In Smule the feature is called Live Looks and it can be accessed in LiveJams through the filters button in the bottom left corner. At the moment 16 different effects can be used. A few are shown below.
In addition, Smule also improved the appearance of LiveJams in the app. Instead of just showing a single profile image, both current participants are shown along with a still from the live performance.