Musical.ly, the lip-syncing app popular among teens, is funneling $50 million into its newly established Creator Fund.
The company announced the move today, explaining that money from the Creator Fund could go towards college scholarships, a “marketplace” for Musical.ly creators to share virtual objects and music, and collaborations with certain (unnamed) content partners. Musical.ly will invest in these programs through the fund over the next couple of years.
Alex Zhu, Musical.ly co-founder alongside Louis Yang, said in a statement that the platform can now enable users to “make a living” through the app. Of course, some breakout influencers on the platform have already been doing this, like Ariel Martin. The teenage digital star has upwards of 13 million fans on Musical.ly, worked with brands like Coca-Cola and Lionsgate, and signed with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) last September. Other big names on the platform include Lisa and Lena Mantler and Jacob Sartorius, who is just 15.
But for Musical.ly creators who have yet to land any branded content deals, the Creator Fund aims to “expand the opportunities available to the creator community, both inside and beyond the app,” said Zhu. While certain initiatives will work toward growing the platform’s most popular influencers, others will pay more attention to academic merit. Scholarships, for instance, won’t just go to the influencer with the most followers. They’ll depend on factors like the user’s school records, too.
Like YouTube, Musical.ly offers users a “Creator Playbook” to help up their game on the platform (aka, gain more fans). The Creator Fund builds on the Playbook’s efforts by continuing to encourage users to approach the platform professionally. Furthermore, the creator marketplace, where users will be able to share augmented reality creations and original songs, will foster a more collaborative environment, like the one YouTube has fostered for its creators over the years.
The $50 million Creator Fund comes after Chinese media giant Beijing ByteDance Technology Co. acquired the social app for $800 million in November. ByteDance also owns Chinese news aggregation platform Jinri Toutiao and is valued at around $20 billion. This November, the company shelled out $50 million to Live.me, Musical.ly’s sister app that focuses on livestreaming video.
Musical.ly currently has around 200 million users, most of whom are pre-college age. Thanks to the ByteDance acqusition, the app’s user base is expected to expand in China, Japan, and other countries throughout Asia.