What Happened to Musically? Why Did Musically Turn Into Tiktok?
by Mathelene | Updated May 26, 2023
What Happened to Musically?
Following ByteDance's acquisition of Musical.ly, the decision was made to merge the two platforms into a single app, TikTok, about a year later. According to a representative of ByteDance, these were the original plans for Musical.ly: “Musical.ly will continue to operate as an independent platform, integrating ByteDance’s global leading [artificial intelligence] technology and leveraging its reach in China and key markets across Asia to enhance Musical.ly’s offering to users, creators, and partners.”
To facilitate this consolidation, all of Musical.ly's users and content were seamlessly migrated over to TikTok, resulting in the closure of Musical.ly. The transition was executed smoothly, ensuring a seamless experience for the users. TikTok, as the newly improved app, incorporated several popular features from Musical.ly. One notable addition was the introduction of a personalized content feed, which offered users tailored recommendations based on their viewing preferences and browsing history.
Despite the generally smooth transition, some influential content creators from Musical.ly expressed dissatisfaction with ByteDance. They felt that they were not given adequate warning or preparation time for the change, which led to criticism of the company. Nevertheless, the impact of these concerns seemed minimal in light of TikTok's rapid growth.
By the end of 2018, TikTok had become the most-downloaded app in the United States. Presently, TikTok boasts more than 750 million active monthly users across 150+ countries. Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang, the co-founders of Musical.ly, chose to remain with ByteDance after the acquisition and continued to contribute to the development of TikTok after their project merged with the platform.
Zhu made the following statement about the merger: “Combining Musical.ly and TikTok is a natural fit given the shared mission of both experiences — to create a community where everyone can be a creator.”
Why Did Musically Turn into Tiktok?
Initially launched as Musical.ly by entrepreneurs Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang, the app catered to a niche community focused on miming and lip-syncing. However, in November 2017, the app was acquired by ByteDance, a China-based company, for a staggering billion-dollar deal. ByteDance merged the original TikTok app, launched in 2017, with Musical.ly, resulting in the second iteration of the app.
On August 2, 2018, the Musical.ly app underwent a name change and became TikTok. While some original users expressed dissatisfaction with the rebranding, TikTok has witnessed significant growth since then. However, due to personalized algorithms, I don't often encounter TikTok content as my preferences are already set. Despite the influx of new users, lip-syncing and miming continue to be hugely popular on the platform.
One of the early breakout stars on TikTok was 21-year-old Addison Rae Easterling, who amassed an impressive following of 87 million. Easterling, along with eight other TikTokers, was recognized in Forbes' 30 Under 30: Social Media list in 2021. However, Easterling faced criticism when she appeared on Jimmy Fallon's show, where she performed choreography predominantly created by Black dancers to Black music without proper credit or recognition.
Easterling's rise to fame extended beyond TikTok, as she attended the 2021 Met Gala and starred in the critically panned Netflix reboot of She's All That, titled He's All That. This success exemplifies how TikTok has the power to catapult individuals to celebrity status and mainstream success overnight, including influencers from the earlier Musical.ly era.
When Did Musically Start?
Musical.ly, stylized as musical.ly and pronounced "musically," was a social media platform that operated from both Shanghai and Santa Monica, California. The platform allowed users to create and share short videos where they lip-synced to music. The first prototype of the app was introduced in April 2014, with the official version launching in August of the same year.
Using Musical.ly, users could create lip-sync videos ranging from 15 seconds to 1 minute in length. They had the option to choose soundtracks to accompany their videos and utilize various speed settings such as time-lapse, fast, normal, slow motion, and epic. Additionally, the app provided pre-set filters and effects to enhance the videos. Users could explore popular "musers," discover trending songs, sounds, and hashtags, and engage with their fan base through unique interactive features.
Musical.ly experienced significant growth in its user base. In June 2016, the platform had over 90 million registered users, a notable increase from 10 million users the previous year. By the end of May 2017, the app had surpassed 200 million users, indicating its growing popularity and reach in the social media landscape.
Musical.ly was founded by Chinese entrepreneurs Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang, who initially met while working at eBaoTech, a digital solutions provider for the insurance industry. Zhu, who had a background in civil engineering and had worked in the tech industry in China and the US, came up with the original startup idea for a short-form video app called Cicada, focused on educational content.
They secured funding from ChinaRock Capital Management to develop the app but faced challenges with its video creation process, leading to limited success. Recognizing the need for a new approach, Zhu and Yang pivoted their idea and conceived a video-based app that integrated music, video, and social media elements.
With limited remaining funding, they developed the first version of Musical.ly within just 30 days, releasing an unofficial Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in July 2014, followed by the official launch the next month. While the app was created in China, Zhu and Yang always aimed to target the US market, believing that Chinese teens had different internet browsing habits and were less focused on social media.
With a dwindling budget, the co-founders made crucial decisions to drive early success for Musical.ly. They capitalized on the rising popularity of lip-syncing content, which was boosted by the TV show Lip Sync Battle, premiering around the same time as Musical.ly.
By making adjustments to the app's functionality and emphasizing its lip-syncing features, Musical.ly started experiencing rapid growth. Within a year of launching, the app reached the top spot in the App Store during the summer of 2015. The founders secured an additional $16.6 million in funding from venture capitalists, and by the end of 2015, Musical.ly had amassed over 40 million users.
Continuing its upward trajectory, Musical.ly raised an impressive $133.5 million in funding in May 2016, valuing the company at $550 million. By the end of 2016, the user base had tripled to around 130 million, with 40 million monthly active users. Musical.ly expanded its offerings with the launch of live.ly for streaming live videos and Ping Pong for group video chatting. The company also formed a partnership with Apple Music to enhance its music catalog.
In early 2017, Musical.ly shifted its focus from exclusively lip-sync content to becoming a platform for various types of videos. This transition involved partnering with major broadcasting networks like Hearst and Viacom to release original content. The app underwent a significant redesign in August 2017, prioritizing feed personalization and customization.
However, a few months later, ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, acquired Musical.ly. Initially, Musical.ly continued to operate normally, but in August 2018, ByteDance announced the merger of Musical.ly into TikTok, marking the end of its four-year run as an independent platform.
What Happened to Musically - FAQs
Following its acquisition by ByteDance, Musical.ly was merged with the TikTok app about a year later.
ByteDance acquired Musical.ly and decided to merge it with their existing app, TikTok.
Musical.ly was first introduced as a prototype in April 2014, and the official version was launched in August of the same year.