Sweet New Facebook Messenger App Turns Texts Into Pop Songs
Mar 25, 2015
The Ditty app lets you pick a song, type in a message, and create a music video you can send to a friend via Facebook Messenger. Screenshots: Zya
At today’s F8 Developer Conference in San Francisco, Facebook announced its Messenger service would now be an open platform for third-party developers. You might think that sounds a little boring. You’d be wrong, because one of the first available Messenger upgrades, an app that converts typed text into popular music, is not boring at all. It is dope. Zya Ditty is a text-to-autotune generator that lets you compose up to a 70-character message, pick a background song from among several popular, recognizable tunes, and chill out for a few seconds while Ditty stitches together a 20-second music clip and text-based music video out of it. At launch, licensed song choices include Sia’s “Chandelier,” OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars,” and The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie,” among others, as well as public-domain songs. The results look and sound like this:
It’s very fun. The tech behind it is also very complicated. “There’s an ingestion process where we study the melody of the song and the phrasing of the original melody versus what a user types in,” says Dean Serletic, head of licensing for Zya Music. “The syllable count could be entirely different. We’ve got to make that work somehow. Our team goes all the way back to classical music theory, how Bach and Mozart handled music composition, up to modern techniques like stutter techniques and things in pop culture.”
While Ditty is launching alongside the Facebook Messenger announcement, it also works as a standalone app for both iOS and Android. You can compose a text-to-song creation, save it to your camera roll as a video, and then share that video with any service that supports video attachments. But there’s a direct-to-Facebook Messenger button within Ditty. At launch, the app will have around 30 tracks to choose from, both public-domain songs and licensed hits. Most of the public-domain tunes, mostly familiar nursery rhymes and “Hail to the Chief,” will be free to use. Some of the licensed catalog will cost 99 cents per song; you’d buy each song once and then be able to use it for as many Dittys as you want. Zya’s Serletic says the company is also exploring ideas to offer song bundles for a lower price. The first wave of licensees is from the Sony/EMI catalog, and Serletic says Zya’s goal is to get 100 songs on offer within 90 days of the app’s launch. One of Zya’s previous games, “ Zya: The Ultimate Music Game ,” involved licensing deals with all the major labels. Serletic says that experience should help them grow out the song offerings quickly. “What we’ve found is that something as simple as nursery rhymes are immensely fun,” says Serletic. “The idea that whatever you have to say can be put into classical music or something we all heard in elementary school… You always want to build something engaging, but when you’re building it and having fun and laughing your ass off at the same time, that makes for the best products.” And for the very most ridiculous messages. The Ditty app will be available for free in the iOS App Store and Google Play store later today.