Last week, Twitter announced the impending closure of Vine.

Despite being bad news for creators and fans alike, it doesn’t mean the demand for social video is dead.

Far from it in fact – demonstrated by the rise in popularity of the music video platform, Musical.ly. With over 10m daily active users and a reported 70m registered, it’s recently been touted as a contender to the aforementioned Vine. Even suggested as the next MTV.  

So what is exactly is Musical.ly? Here’s everything you need to know.

What is it?

Starting life as an education app, Musical.ly re-launched in 2014 as a DIY music video platform. 

Essentially, it allows users (or ‘Musers’ as they’re known) to create their own mini music videos, either by singing themselves or lip-syncing along to a song or audio clip. The videos can also be edited, allowing creators to overlay sound effects and include additional visual features such as time lapses and speeds.

Before you assume it is just a carbon copy of Dubsmash, the difference is that Musical.ly is also a social network. 

Musers can connect to others and share their content within the app, as well as get the chance to feature on the platform’s leader board – an algorithm that ranks videos based on likes and interactions from others. 

Who is it for?

If you’re over the age of 16, you are not typical of Musical.ly’s target demographic. 

The idea for the app was originally borne out of founder Alex Zhu witnessing a group of teenagers listening to music while filming themselves on a train – and this trend is largely why it has become so popular among youngsters.

For older generations, it might be hard to see the appeal, especially considering the level of adoration and stardom that some Musers have received. Simply from lip-syncing.

Personalities like Jack Sartorius and Baby Ariel have amassed a large and loyal following. 15-year-old Ariel in particular now makes a career on the back of Musical.ly, extending her online presence to YouTube and Snapchat.

This is not unusual, of course – Justin Bieber became famous on YouTube and Shawn Mendes started on Vine. Taking away the musical element, we can also see the platform as having a similar potential for social influencers like Zoella and Marcus Butler.

Alongside this, there is also the appearance of Live.ly – a spin-off live streaming app that launched this summer.

Already amassing a larger audience than Periscope, it offers creators the extra incentive of earning revenue via its in-app purchasing feature. This means users can purchase virtual gifts in exchange for their name appearing on screen, or simply to show creators appreciation. 

Some of the most popular creators have reportedly earned $46,000 within the space of two weeks. An absurd notion, perhaps, however this demonstrates the extent of the audiences engagement.

Are brands using it?

Naturally, where there is influence, there will soon be brand involvement.

Sponsored videos is one obvious avenue. However, so far, Coca-Cola appears to be the only brand to experiment with this on Musical.ly, teaming up with popular Musers to promote the #ShareACoke hashtag.

Alternatively, there appears to be greater promotional opportunity for the music industry. The company has licensing deals with major labels, so unlike YouTube, there is no issue with copyright violation. 

The likes of Jason Derulo, Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande have already appeared on the app, using hashtags and competitions to build excitement and increase awareness about new releases. 

Where will it go from here?

It might be easy to dismiss Musical.ly as another doomed social media platform or a teen fad, however, the platform is actually quite unique in its offering.

Combining three distinct elements – music, video and social networking – together it offers an experience that makes users want to stay (and get their friends using it too).

While its young user-base might fizzle out or turn their attention elsewhere, Musical.ly’s current and continuous popularity means that it offers an unrivalled opportunity to engage with them.

Consequently, it surely won’t be long before it’s on the radar of many more youth-focused brands.