They say nothing in this world is free, and nowhere is that more true than in the world of apps. Pay-to-play, countless add-ons, subscription fees — all tiny extras that often end up costing you far more than you initially planned. And on the off chance you found yourself a truly "free" program, you are almost certainly still coughing up some amount of personal data and usage statistics for whoever backs your newest social media platform obsession.
So, you'll have to forgive us our heavy suspicion of BARS, a new iOS app developed by Facebook's New Product Experimentation (NPE) team that appears to be essentially a TikTok clone for Soundcloud rappers and likeminded influencer hopefuls.
"BARS makes it easy to create and share raps, so rappers can focus on and experiment with the content, rather than investing heavily in equipment and production," reads last week's announcement post on NPE's blog.
Sure, it's a cute, potentially useful idea in theory, but this is coming from Facebook, poster child of Big Tech privacy invasions (not to mention a cesspool of anti-democratic sentiment). While initial indications point towards artist retainment of creative rights — "Anything you create on BARS is owned by you," reads an official response to an Instagram comment — we can't help but ask ourselves, just what is Facebook going to inevitably gain from this?
A catalog of beats, effects, and challenge modes — BARS is currently only in a closed beta testing phase at the moment, but as TechCrunch notes, the app is already promising a number of undeniably interesting features to entice musicians.
Upon setup, users can choose between a Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced flow proficiency level. Those closer to the easiest tier can use an in-app rhyming dictionary, while experienced rappers may be interested in "a Freestyle mode, which gives you eight random words to work into a 16-bar off-the-cuff rap," according to The Verge. A catalog with tons of free background beats provide users with music, and there's even an autotune feature for the crooners among you.
Taking bets on scandals now — Of course, this is Facebook we're talking about, so this can pretty much go one of two ways: Become a major success as a new platform for rising talent, or crash and burn by some combination of managerial ineptitude, ethical woes, privacy concerns, and QAnon cultists. While there doesn't appear to be an official launch date yet, artistically hopeful (and/or morbidly curious) users can sign up for email updates now, along with reserving a unique username for future use. Except @Hannukamikaze. That one just got reserved by the author of this story.