Musical.ly: What it is, how it works and why it is so successful among adolescents?

It is becoming increasingly clear that video is one of the most potential content platforms on the Internet. Therefore, companies like Facebook or Instagram do not relent in their attempt to get on the bandwagon, offering more and more content in video format (both pre-recorded and broadcast live), and giving their users more ways to produce and consume.

But as big as these companies are, they have very powerful competitors in this field. And one of them is Musical.ly, an app that you may not have heard about, but that devastates American teenagers. Not in vain, it has come to say that it probably ends up becoming “The next Snapchat”. Let’s see why.

What is Musical.ly?

Musical.ly is defined as a social network of video in which you can create, share and discover short videos. Broadly, imagine an app that is a mix between Snapchat and Vine, with which you can record videos of up to 15 seconds, dancing, running a playback or literally doing a little clown before the camera of your mobile, while it sounds background some Song. It is available for iPhone, Android and also from the Amazon App Store.

To use Musical.ly you have to create a user account, which you can do with an email address, a phone number or your Facebook user data. The app is free, but following the trend of the last few years, offers in-app purchases (basically, virtual currencies with which to buy gifts, also virtual, to other users of the app).

In addition to the app to record video, a few months ago Musical.ly has also launched Live.ly, a platform to broadcast live video, competing with apps such as Periscope or services like Facebook Live, and has also reached the number one in the app store in a dozen countries.

So far everything sounds pretty normal, ie nothing really innovative that we have not seen already in other apps. But that doesn’t mean you have to take it lightly. Musical.ly’s growth has been unstoppable; Only in the last year, this app has won 90 million of new users, and has reached the number 1 of free apps in the app Store in twenty countries.

How does Musical.ly work?

After downloading the app, and once created your user account, Musical.ly shows you a kind of timeline in which you can go from a video to another sliding with your finger, as you would on Facebook or Twitter. The timeline is divided into three sections, accessible from the top: the videos published by the people you follow, featured videos, and a section called “for you ” which includes popular videos near your location.

At the bottom of the interface, on the other hand, you will find the main functions of the app: a button to go back to the main screen, another one to search, the middle button to create your videos, and another two more buttons to review your notifications and access your Profile (and from this to the configuration options) respectively.

As a good application of social networks, each user has a profile with avatar image, a small biography, his number of followers (called “fans ” here) and followed, and a list with all his videos published so far. It draws attention to the integration of Musical.ly with other social networks; For example, you can add an icon that links to your Instagram profile, or share an interesting profile on Facebook or Twitter.

Musical.ly also has functions that are already familiar to us of other services, like the possibility to make your private profile, to exchange direct messages with other users, to receive a notification each time a specific user publishes a new video, or Block those users who disturb you.

So far we’ve talked about the “consuming” video part, but what about the “create ” part? This is where the fun starts. To create videos (which the app calls simply “musical. Lys “), you have to click the Center button and you can choose to use a video that you already have in the album of the mobile or record it at that time, with the option to choose the song first if you prefer.

This is another point that draws the attention of Musical.ly: the songs. It is not the typical royalty-free music, but you will be able to use fragments of songs from your favorite artists or current themes that triumph on radio stations around the world: Justin Timberlake, Sia, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and many more. Some, yes, may not be available in your country.

The video can be recorded in several ways: slow motion, fast camera, normal, imitating a timelapse… and if you use the front camera of the mobile and you record yourself in plan selfie, you can put a mask like those that popularized Snapchat or MSQRD. The recording works as in Instagram, that is, video is recorded while the button is pressed, which allows to gather several cuts in a single recording of at most 15 seconds. This flexibility is used by many Musical.ly users to make really original montages and dances.

Once you have processed the video, you can trim it, apply a filter or add a “time” effect (such as repeating a part of the video or playing it backwards). When you have it ready, you can publish it with your title, as well as tags and mentions to your contacts if you want. You also have the option to keep it private.

In addition to recording and sharing videos, Musical.ly includes other options like duets with another user, or create a “party “: A group of several Musical.ly users who can create videos together. In addition, the social network usually organizes challenges around a specific hashtag, in which the videos with more likes appear in the feed of highlighted videos or are republished by popular accounts.

Why does Musical.ly triumph?

I have to admit that when I tried Musical.ly for the first time I felt the same as when I tried also Snapchat for the first time: the feeling of not understanding very well what I was seeing, or what the sense of recording doing the stupid with the mobile… In short, one notch more in the generation gap between those who went to E.G.B. and the new generations.

But in the case of Musical.ly, it doesn’t cost much to begin to understand why it is so successful among the youngest. In this sense, Gary Vaynerchuk is right when he states, as we said earlier, that Musical.ly may be the next Snapchat, because in general, he is following the same path.

Snapchat armed a real revolution in his day among the youngest because it was a social network different from the others, where it did not matter if the selfie did not go perfect, where immediacy and freshness were more important than the poses calculated up to the millimeter and , especially… where your parents were not. In the eyes of teenagers, the moment your mother becomes an account on Facebook (and asks for friendship) This already loses all the grace, because being on the same social network that your parents, simply not cool.

During his first stage, Snapchat fed on many of those teenagers, who fled from paternal control and sought a place to express themselves freely and to be themselves. Now the average age of the snapchatters has risen, mostly between the ages of 18 and 24, and Musical.ly could continue along the same path.

On the other hand, as they collect in Earlier Stuff, Musical.ly is changing the way teenagers interact with music, helping them to integrate it into their day-to-day life, discovering new artists and themes, and allowing them to make their own creations with them, without being musicians. That some videos are absurd, or the protagonists go out foolish? Yes, but what’s wrong with that?

At that age we all made the fool in front of the mirror, using the toothbrush as a microphone and imitating our favorite singer. In fact, in my opinion, daring to record it on video and upload it to the Internet has enough merit, and it says a lot of the ability of these guys to laugh at themselves. I myself at her age would have been unable to do so.

Probably the music critics will scream in the sky watching a group of brats perpetrates some classic Rolling Stones, but is not more important that these guys have contact with that song, even doing a playback, that the fact that neither Even know her? Again in Gary Vaynerchuk’s words, applications like Musical.ly “Allow a younger generation to create content in ways that were not so easy for them before. It’s democratizing content creation for young people, giving them the right tools (video speed control, filters, audio track editing…) to make content fun and entertaining.”

On the other hand, we must not forget that Musical.ly has also become a new platform for singers to interact with their fans, not only creating their own clips where they send greetings and comments, but also asking their followers to Make creations with your music. It is a form of closer contact, more personal, and with this type of interactions no wonder that Musical.ly causes so much excitement among the younger. Saving the distances, it is like when on Twitter you receive a response, a RT or a like of some famous who you follow and admire-but multiplied by a thousand, in the mind of a teenager.

You can get a good idea of the success that this social network has achieved when you see how much it is valued. This November 10, 2017 Musical.ly was bought for between 800 and 1 billion dollars by the Chinese information company Bytedance Technology, proving that they do not consider it a fad but an application in which it is worth investing in a big way. That yes, they will make sure that it maintains its independence in branding so that its growth does not decay.

and is that without going further, according to the latest statistics collected in mid-2017 this network already has more than 200 million of total users, with 60 million of active users per month who are responsible for raising around 13 million of new videos each day.

It said before that unlike other social apps and networks that succeed among young people and not so much among adults (as Snapchat), Musical.ly it does not cost so much to take the meaning and understand why it is so successful. While the people of my generation may find it absurd the perishable content of Snapchat, Musical.ly is more like a social network “Classic “: Share multimedia content by which you receive likes and comments, as in Instagram; There are profiles, followers and direct messages, as in Twitter; And they’re short videos, like I came. In that sense, Musical.ly is also a content creation tool, focused on recording and editing video, which then if you want to share in your social network.

Maybe you do not look in the mood to record singing with your cellphone with your favorite song in the background, much less publish it on the Internet, embarrassment or fear of ridicule. But for many teenagers, this that they can easily do with Musical.ly is a way to spend time with their friends, laugh together, enjoy their favorite songs and have almost direct contact with singers they admire.

In that sense, there is no doubt that Musical.ly has a lot of potential, because it is a tool with which to produce content, with which to have fun, with which to share things with friends and meet new people. In short, a social network that takes the whole game to the format of the future: video.

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