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Smule blog: Update on Smule’s Content Storage

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_SingSalon_

Over time, the volume of our user-generated content has grown significantly, and our storage capacity is under substantial pressure. We face challenges due to storage constraints, and we need to make changes to ensure the sustainability of our platform. These changes, which will begin in early January 2024, will also allow us to continue investing in and adapting new technology, such as improved audio and video quality, and other enhancements that will elevate your Smule experience. 

View the full article on the Smule blog

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Wishchip

Alright so finally we're seeing the next step of Smule's plan to sell VIP memberships:

Locking down non-expiring OCs in order to introduce paid extensions, but also to lay the groundwork to wipe out any non-VIP recordings that haven't been interacted with in about a year or so. Because the easiest way to discourage people from interacting with old recordings is to make them unavailable to join.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Smule is my kinda asshole.

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opentype

As someone who also has to pay for content uploaded by non-paying users of my services, I have to say that this makes perfect sense and was actually expected, if not overdo. Smule has to pay their storage providers for every song stored and audio and video tracks are unfortunately quite large. Someone has to pay for it, and if it’s not the users themselves, then who should it be? Smule has probably hundreds of millions of recordings which no one ever plays again and with every day, there are tens of thousands more, making storage more and more expensive. Setting reasonable limits for how long content from free accounts is stored makes perfect sense. 

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Wishchip

I've only been around for a few years. Has Smule ever done something like this before? Is there a "Great Smule Purge of 2019" or anything like that?

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music8

If I'm a VIP user and a non-VIP user joined my invites few years ago, what would happen?

1. Are those collabs safe, as one of the person involved in the collab is VIP?

2. Or would it be deleted regardless?

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Wishchip

They would make lots of folks mad if any old recordings that included non-VIPs got deleted, regardless of whether or not a VIP was part of the recording. Smule makes some very questionable choices, but I don't think they're that dumb.

It sure would make VIP users avoid non-VIPs like the plague, though.

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Glasnost77

This is interesting, I was recently thinking about posting here that Smule should start looking at deleting old recordings to save money rather than resorting to stunts like expiring OCs after a week, yellow check mark and such.

Yes its the right thing to do. Do most smule users listen to their old recordings ? I would think apart from a bunch of favorites, the probability of a duet/solo/OC to be listened decreases with its age. I see many duets, where the play count is just 1 meaning neither the opener nor the joiner actually bothered to listen to that duet ! For the joiner I guess that was just a quick join-and-forget while the opener may be one that doesn't listen to all their joins. There is no reason to store such recordings. Secondly, take case of a seasoned smuler who has 16k recordings. How many of them do they listen to these days ? Chances are, apart from a handful, none at all.

There are many ways smule could save money or earn money from tweaking storage rules. First target as expected would be non-VIPs, whom we can expect smule will gradually arm twist till none of their recordings are saved unless they are VIP 😄 There are other ways - example: they could enforce a rule that any duet/solo older than X days will be automatically deleted, regardless of you being VIP or not, unless it is moved by the user to a playlist (which will have unlimited storage) this simple action will ensure that users have a way to keep all their recordings, whilst purging those duets which the opener/joiner doesn't really care about...

Any ways, smule cant keep all recordings infinitely for all users so this was overdue...

However, if they are expiring OCs after 1 week, it doesn't help to prune storage, as that means users will create new OCs for a song (as the previous OC expired and is not joinable) and that just increases storage...🤦‍♂️

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Glasnost77
On 12/20/2023 at 8:38 AM, music8 said:

If I'm a VIP user and a non-VIP user joined my invites few years ago, what would happen?

My understanding is, if that non-VIP user (or any other smule user) has not listened to that duet in the last 1 year, then it will be deleted.

Anyway, I believe only VIPs can create Invites (that was the case for me when I joined last year as non-vip) so it cannot be that a duet will be safe if one of them is VIP, isn't it ?

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GEWOK
4 hours ago, Glasnost77 said:

Anyway, I believe only VIPs can create Invites (that was the case for me when I joined last year as non-vip) so it cannot be that a duet will be safe if one of them is VIP, isn't it ?

Yes.  But VIP user could also cancel their subscription sometimes.   So there are lots of existing recording without any current VIP as part of them

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DuetWithAlli

Oh, this is … interesting. Thank you for sharing this info. First I’ve heard of it. Time to mull it over: do I get vip so that I don’t lose my work, or do I just let it go? This is going to be tough.

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Wishchip
On 12/21/2023 at 12:56 PM, Glasnost77 said:

However, if they are expiring OCs after 1 week, it doesn't help to prune storage, as that means users will create new OCs for a song (as the previous OC expired and is not joinable) and that just increases storage...🤦‍♂️

That's exactly why lots of people didn't buy the storage issue theories when Smule took away non-expiring OC's. If storage capacity truly is an issue, Smule is actively contributing to it.

Once Smule does this purge, I'd love to see their next update where they share how much storage they've gained and - more importantly to them - how many extra VIP subscriptions they sold since this announcement. And I anticipate this will at least become an annual thing, as a way to keep VIP users subscribed...er, I mean "maintain healthy storage capacities."

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The Minty Clinch

Right then, I’d better start downloading/saving all 26k of my recordings just in case that one I really might want to hear again in 2034 (if I’m alive) gets culled for having a non VIP on it.

But seriously, I’m against any type of censorship/bookburning/ cultural vandalism, especially in the name of commerce. Just wanted to make that clear. But if every Coldplay or Lewis Capaldi recording just happened to be destroyed by royal decree or act of God, I might raise a teeny toast all the same.

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_Joe_Church_

Smule should have an option that allows you to download all your performances in a single ZIP file. So that the resulting file is not very large, they could implement that you can download a ZIP file per year that contains all your performances from that year. For a computer scientist, a backup is something easy to implement and thus, before their actions are deleted, non-VIP users could download their performances. In my case, since I joined Smule in 2015 I have been downloading everything I have sung with a Firefox extension (in my case I use DownloadHelper) that can download both audios and videos. The problem is that you have to go one by one, so it's best to do it as you sing. Nowadays there is the option to download the videos from the Smule app itself. The problem is that you have to do it one by one.

And then there is the problem that all the gifts that have been sent to those recordings will be lost hence the absurdity of the gifts.

Also the case of some friends who were VIPs and stopped being VIPs, will they delete all their recordings from when they were VIPs? I don't know... with the hundreds of thousands of subscribers, they couldn't afford to put up more servers? The problem is the Smule system itself, since the recordings expire in a week, people keep opening more and more open calls.

It is best to always download your recordings (or at least the most important for you) because no one knows what will happen tomorrow with Smule. Other smaller karaoke apps had to close and their users lost everything they had sung.

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The Minty Clinch
2 minutes ago, _Joe_Church_ said:

Smule should have an option that allows you to download all your performances in a single ZIP file. So that the resulting file is not very large, they could implement that you can download a ZIP file per year that contains all your performances from that year. For a computer scientist, a backup is something easy to implement and thus, before their actions are deleted, non-VIP users could download their performances. In my case, since I joined Smule in 2015 I have been downloading everything I have sung with a Firefox extension (in my case I use DownloadHelper) that can download both audios and videos. The problem is that you have to go one by one, so it's best to do it as you sing. Nowadays there is the option to download the videos from the Smule app itself. The problem is that you have to do it one by one.

And then there is the problem that all the gifts that have been sent to those recordings will be lost hence the absurdity of the gifts.

Also the case of some friends who were VIPs and stopped being VIPs, will they delete all their recordings from when they were VIPs? I don't know... with the hundreds of thousands of subscribers, they couldn't afford to put up more servers? The problem is the Smule system itself, since the recordings expire in a week, people keep opening more and more open calls.

It is best to always download your recordings (or at least the most important for you) because no one knows what will happen tomorrow with Smule. Other smaller karaoke apps had to close and their users lost everything they had sung.

If only people like you (us) worked for them

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opentype

I don’t think it’s that they don’t understand the usefulness of that. It’s just not in their interest to have people consume the content outside of the app. They want you to keep opening the app and ideally keep paying VIP. 

Although I have seen a lot of the bigger social media services offer complete content download as a direct response to the European GDPR regulations. There might be chance it is enforced this way. 

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The Minty Clinch

In the end, it’s always going to come down to Art (us, or Garfunkel) vs Commerce (Smule) and we know who wins that battle.

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Duets.fm

I think Smule is somewhat unique compared to other social media sites which offer full downloads. Facebook can easily let us download all our text messages or even pictures. It would not take more than a few GBs at most. 

The problem with Smule is that each audio song in Smule takes up 5 MB and video song takes up about 30 MB. 

If you have 10,000 songs in your Smule profile, at approximately 50% split of audio/video, about 200 GB of storage is required.  That amount of space is not available on any mobile device. So, the songs have to be stored on some server.

Other than music collaboration, Smule is also the server providing that "storage service".  They are not charging separately for that service. As a comparison, Google cloud costs $30/year for 200 GB. 

Edited by Duets.fm
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The Minty Clinch

The ‘see what your 2023 was like’ news thing informs me that I could have sung with the legendary Manuel Turizo. Sadly for him, me and the world, I failed to take that opportunity.

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Wishchip
On 1/8/2024 at 10:55 AM, _Joe_Church_ said:

Smule should have an option that allows you to pay to download all your performances in a single ZIP file.

Fixed that for you, then Smule might consider it.

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_Joe_Church_
3 hours ago, Wishchip said:

Fixed that for you, then Smule might consider it.

Hahaha, I would never have said that but it is the way they do things. 😂 But hey, at least they would give non-VIP users the option to download everything before deleting it.

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Wishchip
51 minutes ago, _Joe_Church_ said:

Hahaha, I would never have said that but it is the way they do things. 😂 But hey, at least they would give non-VIP users the option to download everything before deleting it.

The problem is, they'd rather get non-VIPs to buy into VIP, so they would lead with that before anything else. But who knows, if after looking at the results of this content storage / VIP subscription scam, Smule might still offer a paid ZIP file download like you suggested to everyone (even VIP users) and promote "convenience and security!" in an effort to sell more.

If they do this within the next 2 years, I'll buy you a Coke.

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Wishchip
On 1/8/2024 at 11:59 AM, The Minty Clinch said:

The ‘see what your 2023 was like’ news thing informs me that I could have sung with the legendary Manuel Turizo. Sadly for him, me and the world, I failed to take that opportunity.

Hold on. The year in review tells you what you missed out on? Kind of rude, isn't it? Or just another opportunity to promote their paid artists?

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GEWOK
On 1/8/2024 at 9:54 AM, Duets.fm said:

If you have 10,000 songs in your Smule profile, at approximately 50% split of audio/video, about 200 GB of storage is required.  That amount of space is not available on any mobile device. So, the songs have to be stored on some server.

Other than music collaboration, Smule is also the server providing that "storage service".  They are not charging separately for that service. As a comparison, Google cloud costs $30/year for 200 GB. 

Even if Smule allows download of all your recordings in one shot, it would not be terribly useful.   Each recording is just a stream of music/video in a file.  There is no tag for title, artist, singer, when it was created, ... - when you open via a music player.   Trying to listen/sift through 10K nameless songs to classify takes a long time, and searching for anything is impossible ... ...

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