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Using the Acapella ios app for quick and easy music collaboration videos

04/23/2020 2:23 PM | Kelly Diamond (Administrator)

How the Snarky Sisterz recorded their Isolation Blues – by Diana Quinn

Lisa Ann Wright and I (Snarky Sisterz) are spending the pandemic 400 miles apart; she is in upstate NY and I’m in Washington, D.C. At first, we thought we’d use FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or Skype to practice. That didn’t work well because of something called latency, which is the lag between someone singing and playing a measure of music and you hearing it. We couldn’t sync ourselves on other social media platforms, either.  YouTube live is just OK if you are using one camera (say your music partner lives in the same house), but, again, latency is bad.  Facebook live is also herky jerky and jittery, and while, a few years ago, users could invite a guest to appear box-in-box, that feature no longer exists. JamKazam is aimed at musicians, but it has the same problem.  Zoom looked nice, but, again, it was impossible to play live with each other and look and sound good.  

Lisa found a collaboration app for musicians called Acapella (for iphones and ipads), which we have been using with some success.  It is not live.  A performer puts down his or her track and send it to the next performer, who, using Bluetooth earpods or headphones, records to the first track.  Up to nine people can collaborate on one song, or you can play all the parts to a song yourself.   You can’t edit your video, so you have to plan it fairly well, but you can re-record your part until you are happy with it.   I didn’t like recording on the iphone/ipad because I had little control over the audio quality/ settings, but that might be because I haven’t experimented enough with the app.  But, for a quick and easy way to make a little video with a friend, or even a band, this is a pretty simple solution.   

On a zoom call, Lisa and I sketched out the music and verses for Isolation Blues.  Since I had an intro, I recorded my part first, playing guitar on all the verses and singing my parts.  Before putting down the part, you choose how many “boxes” you want on your screen and how to place those boxes on the screen.  Touch the empty box and the app gives you a countdown. You can also add a metronome, which can be controlled by each artist.  After you record your part, you save it and share; we found that text was the easiest method.  My recording part popped up in Lisa’s test messages, she clicked on it, and it opened in the app.  When you finish recording, you can upload it to various social media platforms.

Note: Lisa and I continue our search for low-latency solutions, and we are looking at Streamlabs, or using Audiomovers with a social media app such as Zoom. If you have a good idea, I’d love to hear it (diana@muddypaws.com)!

Acapella evidently was pretty hot when it came out in 2015, but usage plummeted.  You can get a free subscription on Apple’s App store, but if you want to record more than a minute, you have to upgrade.  A three-minute upgrade is $3 a month, and up to 10 minutes is $8 per month.  There is a bare bones FAQ, but only a handful of woefully inadequate YouTube videos describing how the app works. As for tech support, I haven’t received an answer to an audio settings question I sent last week.   I believe that this app is only available on iphone and ipad, not for apple desktop.  There may be an app for Android, but the company’s FAQ seems to discourage using it.

Using the Acapella ios app for quick and easy music collaboration videos

How the Snarky Sisterz recorded their Isolation Blues – Diana Quinn

Lisa Ann Wright and I (Snarky Sisterz) are spending the pandemic 400 miles apart; she is in upstate NY and I’m in Washington, D.C.  At first, we thought we’d use FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or Skype to practice.  That didn’t work well because of something called latency, which is the lag between someone singing and playing a measure of music and you hearing it.    We couldn’t sync ourselves on other social media platforms, either.  YouTube live is just OK if you are using one camera (say your music partner lives in the same house), but, again, latency is bad.  Facebook live is also herky jerky and jittery, and while, a few years ago, users could invite a guest to appear box-in-box, that feature no longer exists. JamKazam is aimed at musicians, but it has the same problem.  Zoom looked nice, but, again, it was impossible to play live with each other and look and sound good.  

Lisa found a collaboration app for musicians called Acapella (for iphones and ipads), which we have been using with some success.  It is not live.  A performer puts down his or her track and send it to the next performer, who, using Bluetooth earpods or headphones, records to the first track.  Up to nine people can collaborate on one song, or you can play all the parts to a song yourself.   You can’t edit your video, so you have to plan it fairly well, but you can re-record your part until you are happy with it.   I didn’t like recording on the iphone/ipad because I had little control over the audio quality/ settings, but that might be because I haven’t experimented enough with the app.  But, for a quick and easy way to make a little video with a friend, or even a band, this is a pretty simple solution.   

On a zoom call, Lisa and I sketched out the music and verses for Isolation Blues.  Since I had an intro, I recorded my part first, playing guitar on all the verses and singing my parts.  Before putting down the part, you choose how many “boxes” you want on your screen and how to place those boxes on the screen.  Touch the empty box and the app gives you a countdown. You can also add a metronome, which can be controlled by each artist.  After you record your part, you save it and share; we found that text was the easiest method.  My recording part popped up in Lisa’s test messages, she clicked on it, and it opened in the app.  When you finish recording, you can upload it to various social media platforms.

Note: Lisa and I continue our search for low-latency solutions, and we are looking at Streamlabs, or using Audiomovers with a social media app such as Zoom. If you have a good idea, I’d love to hear it (diana@muddypaws.com)!

Acapella evidently was pretty hot when it came out in 2015, but usage plummeted.  You can get a free subscription on Apple’s App store, but if you want to record more than a minute, you have to upgrade.  A three-minute upgrade is $3 a month, and up to 10 minutes is $8 per month.  There is a bare bones FAQ, but only a handful of woefully inadequate YouTube videos describing how the app works. As for tech support, I haven’t received an answer to an audio settings question I sent last week.   I believe that this app is only available on iphone and ipad, not for apple desktop.  There may be an app for Android, but the company’s FAQ seems to discourage using it.


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