MySpace unveils new karaoke feature

/ Source: The Associated Press

You're sitting at home online and suddenly you get an irresistible urge. You absolutely have to belt out R. Kelly's "I Believe I Can Fly" and share it with the world.

You now have that ability, thanks to the new MySpace Karaoke, to be launched Tuesday by the social networking site.

MySpace Karaoke ( debuts nearly two years after Fox Interactive, a division of News Corp., which owns MySpace, purchased the karaoke site The combination of MySpace and kSolo allows users to upload audio recordings of them singing everything from R. Kelly to Richie Valens to their profile page.

MySpace co-founder and president Tom Anderson (known by many as the friend that comes automatically with a MySpace account) said MySpace and karaoke are a natural fit.

"It is in part because music is so popular on our site," said Anderson. "But also because karaoke is such a fun and social thing, which is what we're about too. It's not as much fun to go to karaoke alone, but when you do it through the Internet or on your MySpace page, then you can share it with people."

Recordings can be prominently displayed on one's MySpace page and receive ratings from friends (and, presumably, fans). As of Monday afternoon, the most popular song to sing was Sarah McLachlan's "Angel."

MySpace Karaoke and kSolo — the first major karaoke site — are just two destinations of a small industry of online karaoke sites. SingShot, owned by Electronic Arts, and Bix, owned by Yahoo!, are also big names in karaoke on the Web.

And YouTube has, of course, been the largest repository of people dancing around their bedrooms and singing their favorite songs. While MySpace Karaoke doesn't currently have a video option, Anderson says it's in the works and that it will include a split-screen duet feature.

Users need only a microphone to sing into. MySpace Karaoke gives them the music to sing over (with vocals removed) with the lyrics scrolling across their computer screen. There are also numerous effects that users can play with to alter their recordings.

Right now, the site has between 2,000 and 3,000 songs available, all of them licensed from music publishers. The difficulty of managing those rights has been the reason for the delayed launch, Anderson said.

"It was quite difficult," he said. "The rules and the licensing changed over time and became more complicated since MySpace is a global company. There's different rights in different territories."

But Anderson thinks having those rights puts MySpace at a distinct advantage.

"On MySpace, we actually filter and take down content (without licensing)," said Anderson. "At some point, YouTube is going to be forced to — or pay the rights holders because they're breaking the law when they do that."

As recordings have begun to pile up, there's a wide variety of quality.

Said Anderson, "You'll find equally horrible and equally good ones."