Step aside Instagram and Snapchat, there's a new service quietly taking the teen social world by storm. musical.ly is the hot new place where today's youth gather online to create, listen to, and share music-based videos with each other. The social platform launched two years ago and already boasts around 60 million users, and climbing. The Shanghai-based company is raising $100 million in funding and is currently valued at a whopping $500 million.
Whether through clothing, art, or music, up and coming generations always look for new and inventive ways to express themselves. musical.ly taps into the age old love teens have for singing into a hairbrush or playing enthusiastic air drums and kicks it up a notch.
Unlike other popular social music networks like Spotify and Shazam which center around discovering and curating songs from established artists, musical.ly allows "musers" (as the network's users are called) to watch, create, and upload their own music videos and comedy skits. musical.ly's meteoric rise is no surprise when you consider most teens prefer to watch performers as they listen along.
musical.ly takes the best parts of today's most popular social networks and blends them into a single service teens are thrilled to use. Similar to Vine, video clips are limited to a few seconds - in musical.ly's case, 15 seconds max. It includes intuitive Instagram-like editing tools to help users fine tune and tweak videos before sharing. Of course, users can connect with and follow each other just like Snapchat and Facebook.
Fifteen year-old muser Baby Ariel reaches millions of her peers and fans with her music videos and comedy sketches.
"It really depends on what mood I'm in, if I want to make a musical video, I'll pick a song about how I'm feeling, and after that I'll pick a part of the song and I'll think of different hand gestures or facial expressions," she told Teen Vogue recently. "If I want to do a comedy video, I'll choose a skit and think about how to perform it and portray that character."
Inc.'s Joseph Steinberg suggests entrepreneurs take note of how musical.ly has gained traction so quickly in the crowded social platform market. He says the company's success "serves as a lesson to entrepreneurs about the importance of knowing when to pivot. The founders originally intended to create an educational social network that would allow people to share knowledge using short-form videos. According to [co-founder Alex] Zhu, it was literally on the day that the original app launched that he and his colleagues realized that the app would fail in its then current form as it took much time and effort for people to create content; after observing that nearly all teenagers on a train were listening to music and/or sharing photos and videos amongst themselves, the team decided to restructure their offering, and focus on a relevant form of entertainment, and, as such, the idea for the modern musical.ly was born."
It's easy to overlook the impact tweens, teens, and Generation Z have on today's on marketing strategies, but do so at your own peril. They're often ground zero when deciding which new, hot social media platforms you should set your sights on to engage customers.