Musical.ly, an app best known for its lip-syncing music videos, but which has more recently begun to air shows from Viacom, NBCU and Hearst, is today rolling out an overhaul of its mobile app that will put an increased emphasis on personalization and recommendations. Most notably, the update includes a new “similar musical.lys” feature that uses computer vision to figure out what a video is about, in order to recommend others you may like.
The news of the update was first reported by Variety, which also noted the app is backed by $147 million in funding and has grown to over 215 million users.
That user numbers figure, however, appears to reference the number of app downloads Musical.ly has – its active user base tends to be smaller.
According to app analytics firm Sensor Tower (which sees a somewhat lower number of installs), the U.S. market plays a large role for Musical.ly in terms of its monetization from in-app purchases of coins. Though only 31 percent of the app’s downloads are from the U.S., this market accounts for 71 percent of revenue, the firm found.
Musical.ly is also growing, says Sensor Tower. Its new installs for the first half of 2017 were approximately 45 million worldwide, a 24 percent increase from the estimated 36 million during the same time last year.
With the new look-and-feel and enhanced functionality, it appears that Musical.ly is now aiming to grow its audience beyond the kids and teens who today make up its core demographic, while also increasing people’s time in the app.
Of course, “what to watch next”-style recommendations aren’t anything new for video networks, but the addition of the feature could still help to boost session times by continually pointing users to something else they might like to see. That’s increasingly important for the mobile social network, as it moves to encompass a wider range of videos than just lip-syncing clips.
Today, there are a number of non-music videos on its network, including those similar to what you might find on YouTube – like personal vlogs or comedy videos, for example.
The company in June also announced deals with Viacom, NBCU and Hearst for short-form series from MTV, E!, and Seventeen, respectively. Assuming Musical.ly continues to grow its original content lineup, video recommendations will come into play there, as well.
The other new feature in Musical.ly’s upgraded experience worth a mention is a change to users’ profile pages, where you can now upload a video instead of a photo.
As you may recall, Facebook introduced a similar option to use a video as your profile picture back in 2015, but it’s seen limited adoption to date. On Musical.ly, uptake may be different, however, because of the video-only focus of its network.
The new app is rolling out now on the App Store and Google Play.
Image credit: Musical.ly, via Variety