At face value, Musical.ly is just a lip sync app. But beyond the pallette of recording features and editing tools, the free app has carved out a niche in the social sphere where users, or “musers” as they’re called, share music videos with a highly engaged community.
According to the company, Musical.ly has reached No. 1 for free apps in the Apple App Store 19 countries, including the U.S. It’s one of the hottest apps for teenagers — half of American teens have downloaded it. Social media gurus forecast it’ll take over Vine, which lost more than half of its users this year, and become a full replacement for Dubsmash, an older lip-sync app.
The music video app even turned the heads of music industry exec’s after raising $100,000,000 in funding, suggesting its potential staying power. Last month, it debuted its own live-streaming service called Live.ly, whose videos already steamrolled over viewership predictions.
Since Musical.ly is relatively new on the scene, influencer partnerships have yet to realize their full potential. Early bidders may reap the payout, especially if those brands have their sights set on the female teenage audience.
Music promotion, Brand recognition
The gist is to record music videos up to 15 seconds long and share them with the app’s integrated community as well as other social platforms. The app launched in October 2014 but has already cultivated 90 million users worldwide, the bulk of that consisting of teens and pre-teens. While lip syncing Top 40 songs has been the most popular content, Alex Hofmann, president of Musical.ly’s North America division, told Variety personalized audio like singing covers or telling jokes is on the rise.
Here’s how Musical.ly works:
First you pick a song from the app’s music library or your phone. After trimming the audio to a desired section, select from a variety of recording styles — epic, slow motion, fast and lapse — to spruce up your video. Top musers are video-selfie wizards who seamlessly combine hand motions with camera movements (holding the phone with one hand and gesticulating with the other).
Like Vine, Musical.ly lets you either record video in a single continuous shot or splice together snippets of small clips to form a cohesive whole. After the shoot, different color filters help gloss things up.
Musers will then title their video with a hashtag and share it with friends on Musical.ly as well as other platforms like Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp, email or even regular text. For those not ready to unleash their magic on the world, there’s also a save feature that lets you store the video on your phone, an option Vine does not offer.
So what makes Musical.ly different than its video competitors like Vine, Dubsmash and Snapchat?
Well, it stakes much of its power in its engaged, self-integrated social media market. Harnessing an audience that posts 11 million new videos a day stands as testament to the app’s ability to tap into Instagram’s community feel, while still boasting the enticing aesthetics of Snapchat’s instant video. There are contests to enter, an audience to inspire, and real musicians and celebrities to follow.
Furthermore, Musical.ly separates itself from Vine by specializing in music. No app has been more successful at taking on the gigantic music market.
It’s also different than Dubsmash because it is its own platform, whereas Dubsmash relies on other platforms. The fact that you can post directly on Musical.ly to reach its hungry hordes of consumers — as opposed to Dubsmash, which only allows posting on other social media outlets — is why experts believe this new music-video app will not follow the same fate as its smoldering competition.
Anatomy of Musical.ly
Truly, Musical.ly is an amalgam of the best elements of familiar, popular apps, making it both addicting and engaging.
The anatomy echoes Snapchat and Vine, with hearts (likes), hashtags, viewers and share options. Similar to other platforms, metrics to keep an eye on are views and likes. Accordingly, shares are a fantastic signpost of engagement.
Three out of four of Musical.ly’s users are female, and more than half are between the ages 13 and 24, according to the company. If marketing companies aiming for the tweenage userbase haven’t found their bag, this might be the one worth investing in.
A host of celebrities has joined the app, including Jason Derulo, Ariana Grande and Fetty Wap, who praise it for its good publicity. With such a young userbase, Musical.ly represents an in-demand niche for artists to release singles and generate buzz, in turn encouraging musing fans to check out their new music on YouTube and iTunes where they can purchase it.
There’s little doubt Musical.ly is an effective hype tool. When Grande dropped her single “Into You” in May, she started a campaign that produced 150,000 videos of fans singing along to the track in its first day. Other artists tease new material before release dates.
While some worry the app will fizzle out, music industry executives think otherwise. In late June 2016, Musical.y signed its first major label deal with Warner Bros. Music, which licensed the company’s music to be played on the platform.
Renowned muser and posterchild for Musical.ly goes by the name of “Baby Ariel.” After acquiring 7 million followers in a year, the 15-year-old Florida native appeared on Good Morning America to discuss the keys to her success, which boiled down to stylish hand gestures, good lighting and quick camera movements. She currently has her own lipstick line.
Jacob Sartorius is another popular Musical.ly star who posts lip-sync videos that consistently sail to the top of the leaderboard, Musical.ly’s ranking system. A 15-second clip drummed up over 1.18 million hearts and 27,100 comments. Sartorius even released his own single, “Sweatshirt,” on the app, which broke into the top 10 on iTunes.
Others have robust following too, averaging around 2 million hearts daily.
Influencer and Brand Content
It’s no surprise Musical.ly strikes a chord for brand-influencer collaborations. The app excels at promoting new music and getting fans engaged with older jams.
In a recent campaign, Coca-Cola teamed up with Jason Derulo, Flo Rida and Avicii for the chance to FaceTime with Derulo. While it may sound like a half-baked prize to adults, video-chatting the international pop star is a teenage girl’s dream.
Good Morning America launched its own contest over the summer, racking up more than 244,000 entries for the chance to meet singer-songwriter Demi Lovato at the “GMA” Summer Concert and win tickets to a show on Lovato’s “Future Now” Tour with Nick Jonas. The contest accrued over 12.5 million likes on Musical.ly.
Live.ly, the brand-new live-streaming app released from Musical.ly, has dominated the trending charts. Its first live stream, which premiered late June 2016, garnered 580,000 views and more than 13 million likes.
These brawny numbers position Live.ly as a formidable force in a relatively new live-streaming space against social media titans Facebook (Facebook Live), Twitter (Periscope) and YouTube.
While it may seem hard to hinge a marketing campaign on an app that rides the vicissitudes of teenage girls, Musical.ly could be the precise platform to enhance your brand’s promotional efforts and solidfy your social media bridges.
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