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Hip-hop star T-Pain's personal brand is based on his signature synthetic, modulated sound. It's the product of his unique use of the Auto-Tune audio processing technology developed by a company called Antares Audio Technologies.
The sound has earned T-Pain fame and fortune and Auto-Tune is now a prominent fixture in today's hip-hop music. It's also currently a prominent fixture in Apple's App Store thanks to T-Pain's new I Am T-Pain iPhone app.
As you might guess, I Am T-Pain puts Auto-Tune processing in the hands of iPhone owners. Just run the app, speak into your iPhone and before you know it, you are T-Pain.
Released less than a week ago, I Am T-Pain is currently the number two paid app in the App Store. At $2.99 a pop, T-Pain, app creator Smule and Antares Audio Technologies are off to a good start in the quest for a summer home. And thanks to in-app sales of additional T-Pain tracks that users can enjoy karaoke-style, it seems possible that the app could generate even more revenue from music sales.
For brands and celebrities looking to make a splash with iPhone apps, I Am T-Pain is a great case study:
- The app is perfectly aligned with T-Pain's 'brand'. T-Pain didn't just slap his name on an app; he developed a thoughtful, clever app that allows fans to get closer to his music. Far too many branded apps lack thoughtful brand integration.
- The price is right: at $2.99, you don't need to be a major recording artist to afford the app. In some cases, 'branded app' seems to serve as an excuse for creating an 'overpriced app'.
- Additional value is offered to users through the integration of in-app music sales.
- The app incorporates viral characteristics. While there's no doubt that promotion of the app on the part of T-Pain and other popular hip-hop figures has propelled I Am T-Pain to the top of the App Store charts, the app's integration of social media is killer: it's possible to record your Auto-Tune creations and share them via Facebook, MySpace and email. And Smule is going to be featuring the best I Am T-Pain creations too.
In short, I Am T-Pain is, in my opinion, one of the best-executed branded apps. But it's even more than that. It's a reminder that companies and celebrities can benefit from trusting consumers with their brands. T-Pain's willingness to put his signature sound in the hands of his fans and to celebrate what they can create is clearly only boosting the T-Pain brand.
For brands and celebrities looking for the bling bling, that's worth remembering.