Making its debut in 2013, Zya is a free iOS music app that lets players remix today's top tracks with a few taps of the screen. Developer Music Mastermind brought the latest build of the digital DJ game to SXSW 2014, showing some new features while revealing special plans to let one lucky player win a record deal and $10,000 cash.
If you've never given Zya a spin, its gameplay consists of choosing a popular radio song like Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" or Lorde's "Royals," and adding your own flavor to it. Once a song is selected, you choose from a range of animated avatars like the mohawk- and tattoo-laden Solo Rex, and Python, who rocks a flame-colored bass and wears an actual snake around his body.
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Your avatar determines what type of bass or guitar sound you'll get, and you can add whatever drum beats and vocal tracks you desire afterwards.
You can tap out your own drum beats for use in any song. Don't worry about having rhythm; Zya will quantize the beat for you. For vocals, you can either sing your own hook or swap in lyrics from any other song featured on Zya. Want to hear Lady Gaga sing "Poker Face" over the music of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines"? Go nuts.
At the end of every song, you'll earn points that you can use toward unlocking new tracks.
Music Mastermind's latest build of Zya gives more options to aspiring hitmakers, including an all-new EDM category to capitalize on the rapid rise of electronic dance music. New EDM-themed avatars include Metric, a guitarist that brings Buzz Lightyear to mind, and Pulse, a female vocalist who sings through her floating pet alien.
New to Zya is the "Fame Map" mode, which is a single-player campaign meant to simulate the experience of going from a budding bar musician to an arena pop star. This new feature ties in with the brand's #ZyaStar contest, which will allow one dedicated iPad producer to score a deal with Emblem Records, a spot on DigiTour 2015, and $10,000 in cash.
If you're looking for your big break, you'll have to share your songs within the app using the #ZyaStar hashtag. Your tracks will be judged on originality, how high your game score is, and how much buzz you can generate through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Finalists will be chosen from May through the end of 2014.
Zya is currently available for free on iOS, and comes optimized for both iPhone and iPad. If you're looking for an easy and free way to make some music (and potentially make some cash) it's certainly worth a spin or two.