Live.ly, the live-streaming app from Musical.ly that officially launched four days ago, has zoomed to the top of Apple’s free apps chart — with almost 500,000 downloads so far — and at least one media company already used it for a broadcast that attracted nearly 600,000 total live views.
The dramatic surge for Live.ly is being driven by the Musical.ly’s massive and active user base of more than 95 million people worldwide who share videos of themselves lip-synching to songs and other content. The Live.ly app, which the company unveiled in a promo last Friday at VidCon, hit the No. 1 position on the App Store on Monday, where it currently stands ahead of Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube.
Following Live.ly’s launch, entertainment and celebrity digital-media company Young Hollywood decided to experiment in using the app to broadcast a live stream, given that it has about a half million followers on the Musical.ly service.
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The results blew away CEO R.J. Williams: While he had expected a few thousand viewers, its first live stream on Lively.ly on Sunday night hosted by Young Hollywood’s Tracy Behr drew over 580,000 views and over 13 million likes over the course of five hours.
“This is a huge response for any platform,” Williams said. The stream, which ran from about 9 p.m. Pacific on Sunday to 2 a.m. Monday, featured Behr recounting her VidCon experience, riffing on her favorite celebs, highlighting fan art and videos, and engaging in “follow sprees.” A second Live.ly broadcast on Monday night ran 35 minutes and attracted 180,000 viewers and 3 million likes, all without Young Hollywood promoting it on other social channels.
“We are still figuring out how to make this a regular show,” Williams said, adding that YH plans to stage weekly live Q&As and an original series with Behr. Young Hollywood has experimented with live streaming on Facebook and YouTube, among other platforms, “but we haven’t seen anything like this before.”
Those results and the large number of early downloads have instantly made Live.ly a major contender in the live-streaming game, alongside big guns like Facebook, Twitter’s Periscope and YouTube, which last week said it will soon enable live broadcasts from its mobile apps.
Among other early adopters, billionaire investor and reality-show host Mark Cuban (ABC’s “Shark Tank”) has used the Live.ly app:
Musical.ly, founded in 2014 and based in Shanghai, says most of its musers are between 13-20 and share some 11 million videos daily. The company partnered with a number of artists including Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Meghan Trainor, Jason Derulo, Lukas Graham, Fetty Wap and Flo Rida. Musical.ly also exclusively powered a contest for ABC’s “Good Morning America” earlier this month that invited users to upload 15-second videos and awarded a grand-prize winner a meeting with Demi Lovato during her “GMA” Summer Concert Series performance.
After soft-launching Live.ly in late May, Musical.ly featured the app at VidCon with live events featuring top “musers” (its term for creators on the platform), including Johnny Orlando, singing duo 99goodsquad and Jacob Sartorius, the latter drawing an estimated 1,500 fans at the Anaheim Convention Center and forcing the company to shift the performance to a bigger stage.
In addition Musical.ly musers who have been using Live.ly, more media companies are sure to follow suit. Time Inc.’s Instant, a video-only publication covering digital celebs, also launched at VidCon and announced a partnership with Musical.ly. That will encompass custom videos with Baby Ariel, the platform’s top muser with more than 10 million fans. As part of its content lineup this summer, Instant will promote the “Muser Monday” challenge on Musical.ly, inspiring users to participate in mashups and music-video themes.
For now, there’s no way for content partners like Young Hollywood or Time Inc. to make money directly on Live.ly. But Williams believes a platform with this kind of momentum will inevitably evolve to add those capabilities.
“Monetization tools, I think, will come as with any platform,” he said. “Our focus right now is cultivating a true audience. This audience is really, really engaged. We’ve created a street team of fan ambassadors because it’s now viral and people are promoting Young Hollywood with the friends and fans.”