If you or your child were a Musical.ly user, August 2 would have been a peculiar day. Why? You woke up as normal, reached for your phone and scrolled through the usual suspects: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc. But, by the time you clicked on what would have been your Musical.ly app, you found a brand new logo: a white musical note on a black background, *and* a strange new name: Tik Tok.
What is Musical.ly?
Musical.ly, which had over 100 million monthly users at its peak, was launched in 2014 as a karaoke-style app allowing users to upload videos of themselves lip-syncing to popular songs or quotes from popular movies and TV shows. It was created in China, but marketed towards US teens, who Musical.ly’s founders believed were the fastest adopters of new apps. Musical.ly’s users are known as “musers”. If people like a muser’s video, they can pay them virtual tips using real money. This led to the rise of Musical.ly “influencers”, who have since gone on to become mini-celebrities who post brand-sponsored content. Some have even launched their own acting or singing careers. Musical.ly’s influence was so big that Nickelodeon even added a “Choice Muser” award to its Teen Choice Award categories.
What is TikTok?
In November 2017, Musical.ly was acquired by ByteDance, a Beijing-based Internet technology company, in a deal valued at US $1 billion. This year, on August 2, ByteDance made the bold decision of absorbing Musical.ly into its own existing platform, Tik Tok. New Tik Tok accounts replaced existing Musical.ly ones, along with the erasing of their Musical.ly history. After all, the apps were similar in function. Users upload videos up to 60 seconds long onto the app for others to view and comment on.
Breaking into International Markets
With over 500 million active monthly users, 300 million of them in China alone, Tik Tok has the lion’s share of the Asian market. This number exceeds that of popular Western social media sites Twitter (336 million) and Reddit (300 million), but is less than Instagram (1 billion) and Facebook (2.2 billion). The merger is part of ByteDance’s attempt break into the US market, where Musical.ly had enjoyed considerable success. So far, it appears that Tik Tok is well on its way – in the first quarter of 2018, TikTok was #1 on the Apple store charts.
While some Musical.ly users are happy with the changes and the switch, others were unsure.
Has the Merger Paid Off?
With its attempt to enter international markets through the merger, ByteDance and Tik Tok risk alienating loyal fans of Musical.ly. But with a market share that’s larger than Twitter and Reddit, it appears to be a risk worth taking. It will be interesting to see whether users of Musical.ly will simply switch over and use Tik Tok as if it’s just a re-branded Musical.ly, or if they will jump to other video-sharing platforms in frustration. After all, Tik Tok is not short on competitors – including (but not limited to, almost 7000 apps are launched everyday on Google Play alone) Twitch (Amazon), Live/ Watch (Facebook), YouTube, YouNow and LiveNow.
Familiarise Yourselves with the Risks
It was Musical.ly, now it’s Tik Tok. Soon, the latest trend will replace them. With every new app comes all-new content, which presents a new set of opportunities but also challenges. Most notably, Tik Tok was banned for some time in Indonesia due to “inappropriate content” including pornographic content. However, the ban was overturned a week later, after ByteDance agreed to clear all indecent content and increase security functions of the app- including setting additional restrictions on all users under 18. It can be difficult to keep up with the latest apps your kids use. Don’t fret- here are our top three hints:
✨Explore the app yourself and see how you feel about the content and how people can interact with your child
✨Have a discussion with your kids about what apps they use, how they feel about them and identify potential risks
Check out some of our app-specific privacy setting tips here: Snapchat, YouTube, Whatsapp. Plus, if you want to chat about all things family and technology with a whole group of like-minded parents, head over to our closed FamTech community and join us as we:
- Discuss the journey of parenting in a digital age
- Share the latest on all things family and technology
We can’t wait to hear your thoughts!