Musical.ly is a social network designed for creating and sharing videos, messaging, and live streaming. It was released in 2014. The focus of the social network is the creating of 15-second videos which the users can then customize with music and effects (Carson, 2016). Through the app, users can also browse current trending videos, songs, and hashtags from other users (musical.ly, 2016). It is based in Shanghai, China, although a recent expansion has seen it open officers in San Francisco (musical.ly, 2016). It is currently available in 11 languages and has around 90 million registered users posting an average of 12 million new videos daily. Musical.ly developed from an original idea of the creators, Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang, to create a social platform for sharing educational videos of around five minutes each, which failed to take off (Carson, 2016). Musical.ly represents the shift in focus from education to the entertainment industry.
The target audience of the site is young people with an interest in music, film, and the entertainment industry. It is aimed at bringing people together through the creation of these short-form videos, and can be used for communicating as well as for the distribution of new ideas. The app also contains a system whereby the most popular users are given crowns which indicate their success on the platform (Carson, 2016). There are several users of musical.ly that have gone on to achieve success outside of the network, including Baby Ariel who has 20 million views on the app and has since been interviewed on standard television networks as part of her newfound fame (Carson, 2016). There are also a few existing celebrities on the app, including Ariana Grande, Paris Hilton, Fetty Wap, and Jason DeRulo, who released the video for his latest release on musical.ly (musical.ly, 2016).

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Musical.ly has shown extensive growth in the last two years. In July 2015, it topped the iOS App Store charts and was the most downloaded free app in more than 30 countries, including the United States (musical.ly, 2016). In July 2016, the platform had over 90 million downloads. This growth trend has meant opportunities to monetize the network. Coca-Cola, for example, used musical.ly to launch an advertising campaign in 2016, and formed a major part of the user-generated ads model that musical.ly relies on to generate income (musical.ly, 2016). Another reason for the exponential success of the app is that it used other social networks to create a “buzz”. Although the app was popular, it was not growing fast enough initially since no-one knew that the videos being shared on Facebook and other networks were created on musical.ly (musical.ly, 2016). The creators decided to add a watermark and logo on the videos that linked to the creator’s account to create traffic to their app (Carson, 2016).

Personally, I think that musical.ly is a good platform. It encourages user engagement through the creation of videos and messaging, which will help the network grow and continue to be successful. Although the idea itself is not unique, the fact that it is already popular and offers a 15-second video premise as part of its unique selling point makes it stand out in the market. Twitter has also recently announced that it will close Vine, a similar video creation and sharing project (Criddle, 2016), meaning that musical.ly will likely increase its share in the market. It will be interesting to see how the project evolves in the future. It may be that musical.ly offers a premium service through which users can create and share longer videos as another source of monetization for the project.

    References
  • Carson, B. (2016, June 7). How one small design tweak rocketed this startup to No. 1 in the App Store. Retrieved November 1, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-musically-became-so-successful-2016-6
  • Criddle, C. (17:43). Twitter to close video social network Vine. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/10/27/twitter-to-close-video-social-network-vine/
  • musical.ly – instant music videos. (2016). Retrieved November 1, 2016, from http://www.musical.ly