Facebook Experimental Application

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Facebook’s internal R&D community, NPE Team, is releasing the next experimental application, called BARS, today. The app makes it possible for rappers to produce and upload their raps using perfectly crafted beats and is the second launch of the NPE Team in the music field since its latest public debut with the Collab music video app.

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Although Collab focuses on creating music online with each other, however, BARS is targeted at potential rappers seeking to make and upload their own videos. Users can choose from each of the hundreds of professionally crafted beats in the game, then compose their original lyrics and record a video. BARS will also automatically recommend rhymes when you write lyrics and provide various audio and visual effects to complement videos as well as auto-tune features.

Also, there is a “Challenge mode” present, in which you can freestyle with auto-suggested word prompts, that have more of a game-like aspect to it. The experience is built to accommodate people who only want to have fun with rap, something like Smule’s AutoRap, probably, which also provides beats for users’ own recordings.

The clips themselves can be up to 60 seconds long and then can be saved to your Camera Roll or posted on various social media sites.

As NPE’s Collab, the pandemic played a part in the development of BARS. The pandemic shuts down access to live music and areas where rappers could experiment, says DJ Iyler, a member of the NPE Team, who often produces hip-hop songs under the pseudonym “D-Lucks.”

“I know that access to high-priced recording studios and production facilities can be restricted to young rappers. On top of that, the global pandemic shuts down live concerts where we sometimes build and share our work,” he adds.

Facebook BARS was created with a team of young rappers

Despite the emphasis on music and rap in specific, the new app can be seen as just another effort by Facebook to establish a TikTok opponent at least in this content genre.

TikTok has also become a test site for up-and-coming artists, like rappers; it has helped rappers test their lyrics, encouraged many beatmakers, and also influenced what kind of music they’re making. Diss tracks have also become a very common format for TikTok, mostly as a place for influencers to stir up drama and pursue views. In other words, there’s now a huge social network surrounding rap on TikTok, and Facebook needs to move some of the spotlights back.

The application is also similar to TikTok in aspects of its user interface. It’s a two-tab vertical video interface—in this case, it has “Featured” and “New” feeds rather than “Following” and “About You” feeds from TikTok. And BARS positions the interaction buttons on the bottom-right corner of the screen with the developer name on the bottom-left, much like TikTok.

But, instead of hearts to favor videos, your taps on the video send a “Fire”—a fire emoji keeps a record of it. Users can tap “Fire” as many times as they want, too. But since there’s (annoyingly) no tap-to-pause option, you could unintentionally “fire” a video while you were searching for a way to stop it from playing. To go forward with BARS, you swipe vertically, but the interface lacks a clear “Follow” button to monitor your favorite creators. It’s located under the top-right three-point menu.

The application is based on information from members of the NPE Team, that includes other aspiring rappers, retired music producers and publishers.

The BARS beta is currently active on the U.S. iOS App Store and is opening its waiting list. Facebook said, it will open access to BARS samples, starting in the U.S. In the meantime, updates and news about prompts will be posted on Instagram.

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