Musical.ly, Apple Music Ink New Partnership, With More to Come

Courtesy Photo
musical.ly

Over the past year, few new apps have captured the attention of the music industry -- and teenagers across the globe -- than Musical.ly, the social video network that allows users to make 15-second clips set to music and share them with more than 200 million fellow users. Now, the fast-growing company, founded in 2014, has announced a new partnership with Apple Music -- with more integration on the way.

With the new partnership, Musical.ly users will be able to stream full-length songs -- rather than just 15-second clips -- from Apple Music's catalog directly within the Musical.ly app, with the further option to save particular songs to their own playlists within Apple Music and access Musical.ly-branded playlists via the streaming service as well. Users will need to be subscribers to Apple's streaming service in order to access the feature, which will also allow them to select any 15-second section from the full-length track within the app with which to create their videos. (Users are still limited to 15-second videos, however.)

"Right now, the average time our users spend on the app is over 35 minutes per day, so they're already in an environment that they really enjoy," said Alex Hofmann, Musical.ly's president, North America in an interview with Billboard this week. "So they can spend more time within the Musical.ly app to listen to music, but then they can also go to Apple Music later and listen to the entire album."

Musical.ly's teenage revolution -- as Billboard's October 2016 cover story deemed it -- has effectively taken the music industry by storm, and has already paid dividends. Teen stars such as Jacob Sartorius, Baby Ariel and the Perkins Sisters (Deven and Dani), all have used the app to gain millions of followers and launch full-on careers through their Musical.ly popularity; Sartorius, with his 11 million-plus followers, has already landed two songs on the Hot 100 -- "Sweatshirt," which peaked at No. 90 last July, and "Hit Or Miss," which reached No. 72 last August -- despite being just 13 years old. According to a company estimate, as of six months ago, half of all American teens were on the app.

"We had done a survey of thousands of people in the United States and asked them, 'What is the No. 1 platform where you discover music?'" Hofmann said. "They go to Musical.ly. And partnering with Apple Music really allows us to create the best place to discover music through your friends."

The new integration comes with a big potential upside for Apple Music, in that the tech giant's service is currently the only one that supports full-song streaming within the app. If the new function catches on with Musical.ly users -- again, the company claims 200 million users and half of all American teens -- those without Apple Music accounts would need to sign up in order to have access. And Hofmann said this is just the beginning.

"A number of other companies have reached out to us, understanding that it would be very valuable for them to partner with us, and we believe it would be very valuable to partner with them," he said when asked whether the company would explore similar arrangements with the likes of Spotify, Pandora or other streamers. "So we are going to have these conversations. But it was important to us to work with a partner we had worked with before -- we've worked with Apple on other occasions -- and there are other Apple-Musical.ly partnerships on the horizon."

Hofman said Musical.ly is "currently evaluating" those partnerships with Apple and clarified them as "potential"; he also added that it would be too early to comment on any talks with other companies. 

"But all of them have the same goal," he said. "Since we already have our users in our app for 35-plus minutes per day, what else can we offer them to really provide, A) more value to enjoy these 35 minutes even more, and B) what could be added so that they decide to spend more time within our app?"