Live.ly, the live-streaming video app from Musical.ly that burst onto the scene last month, has now been downloaded more than 2 million times — helped by early adopters like singer Jason Derulo and social star Cameron Dallas.
The app, angling to rival live-streaming services like Twitter’s Periscope, Facebook Live and YouNow, took the No. 1 spot on Apple’s iTunes in eight countries after its official for iOS devices launch two weeks ago (although it has since dropped to 10th place in the U.S.). What’s propelled its quick rise: The company has promoted Live.ly to its base of more than 100 million users of the core Musical.ly music-video sharing app, which allows access to Live.ly broadcasts.
Now, Musical.ly is working to build on Live.ly’s take rates. Within the next two months, the company plans to roll out an Android version of Live.ly, said Alex Hofmann, president of Musical.ly’s North American division.
In addition, Live.ly will soon introduce a way for creators to make money. Over the next few weeks, the company says it will add a “virtual gift system” to the app to let users purchase animated stickers for their favorite broadcasters. That revenue will be shared with Live.ly creators, Hofmann said.
“You could give a ‘gift’ to the broadcaster, and your name or your comment will become more visible in the live stream,” Hofmann said.
Via an updated version of the iOS app scheduled for July 7, Live.ly broadcasters will be able to designate individual users as a “best fan forever” as a real-time reward to viewers, and broadcasters can see how many people are following them.
Live.ly’s biggest broadcaster so far is singer-dancer Jason Derulo, whose regular livestreams have drawn an average of 1 million views per session; one of Derulo’s recent broadcasts drew more than 30 million likes. “Sometimes he literally just puts the camera on the dance floor and he practices,” Hofmann said.
Other notable Live.ly users include Cameron Dallas, who rose to fame on Vine and will be featured in a forthcoming Netflix docu-series, and Musical.ly singer Jacob Sartorius, who recently signed with UTA. Media outlets including celeb-focused Young Hollywood and What’s Trending have been using Live.ly to broadcast regular shows.
“I think that people on Musical.ly really learned how to engage in front of the camera, and that’s carried over to Live.ly — it’s extremely entertaining,” Hofmann said.
Buzz is nice, but Musical.ly is not currently generating significant revenue. To date, it has engaged in discussions with major brands in the U.S. about potential partnerships with the details of how those will work still be worked out, Hofmann said. He anticipates that Live.ly’s virtual gifting system will be the company’s first real revenue stream. “For us, product experience is really crucial, so we want users to have fun using the apps,” he said. “But at the same time, we are a business and need to at some point make money.”
Musical.ly was central to a viewer-submitted video contest staged last month by ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and has enjoyed a lift from artists using the app including Jason Derulo, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande and Meghan Trainor. Its biggest homegrown star is Ariel Martin (known as @babyariel on Musical.ly), with nearly 11 million followers.
The company was founded in 2014 by friends Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang. Musical.ly, based in Shanghai with U.S. offices in San Francisco, has raised about $16 million from investors including GGV Capital and Greylock Partners and is seeking to raise a $100 million round, according to TechCrunch.
Here are screengrabs from Jason Derulo’s recent Live.ly broadcasts: