×

Musical.ly Establishes $50 Million Creator Fund, Closes Deal With China’s Bytedance

Musical.ly, which makes a short-form video app popular among teens, announced that it is investing up to $50 million in a fund to support its users — or “Musers,” as it calls them.

Over the next two years, according to the company, the Musical.ly Creator Fund will be used to invest in a variety of programs, which may include college scholarships, a “creator marketplace,” and co-development deals with individual video creators and media partners on new formats.

The announcement comes as Bytedance, a Chinese internet media company, officially closed its acquisition of Musical.ly this week. Announced last month, Bytedance’s deal for Musical.ly is reportedly worth up to $1 billion.

With the deal, Musical.ly will continue to operate as an independent platform, headed by co-founders Louis Yang and Alex Zhu.

“Our vision is to inspire the world to create, and we’re excited to offer our users the ability to express their creativity, advance their talents, and even make a living on Musical.ly,” Zhu said in a statement. “From everyday creators to established influencers, our users make Musical.ly a dynamic and entertaining video community for millions of people around the world.”

The Musical.ly Creator Fund could go toward scholarships and educational grants for college students to pursue careers in the world of video storytelling and digital media; a marketplace to let creators exchange and sell creative assets (such as augmented-reality objects or original music), as well as instruct and participate in virtual workshops and collaborate with brands; and a “Co-Innovation Partner Program” under which Musical.ly would work with select media and content partners to develop new formats and technologies for mobile video storytelling.

According to the companies, the Bytedance acquisition will let Musical.ly tap into Bytedance’s huge user base in China, Japan, Korea, and elsewhere in Asia. Musical.ly also intends to incorporate technology from Bytedance’s Toutiao AI Lab, devoted to developing machine-learning algorithms for personalized content recommendations.

“We are impressed by the passion of the [Musical.ly] user community, whose creativity, humor, and expression of their interests through short videos has made Musical.ly a powerful and engaging platform,” said Yiming Zhang, founder and CEO of Bytedance.

Launched three years ago, Musical.ly has more than 215 million users for its lip-syncing and short-video app, skewing toward teen girls. It also has a sister app, Live.ly, for live-streaming video.

Musical.ly had raised $147 million from investors including GGV Capital, GX Capital, Qiming Venture Partners, Susquehanna International Group, and Cheetah Mobile.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Martin Clunes - Manhunt

    YouTube TV Adds Subscription Options for AMC Networks' Acorn TV, UMC

    Google’s YouTube TV now offers two more add-on channels to subscribers, under an expanded pact with AMC Networks: British TV service Acorn TV and UMC (Urban Movie Channel), which features a selection of black TV and film titles. Acorn TV’s add-on channel is now available via YouTube TV for $6 per month and UMC is [...]

  • homepod-white-shelf

    Apple Said to Prep Cheaper HomePod for 2020

    Apple is getting ready to introduce a cheaper version of its HomePod smart speaker in 2020, Bloomberg reported Thursday. The company is also working on a new version of its AirPod headphones for next year, according to Bloomberg. Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The new version of the HomePod is said [...]

  • Eminem Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Copyright

    Eminem Publisher Sues Spotify, Claiming Massive Copyright Infringement

    Eight Mile Style, a publishing company that holds administration rights to Eminem’s early catalog, filed a major copyright infringement lawsuit against Spotify late Thursday, claiming that the streaming giant has no license to host about 250 of Eminem’s songs, while also taking aim at the Music Modernization Act, the federal law enacted last year to [...]

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    China’s iQIYI in Talks for Indonesia Expansion

    Chinese streaming firm iQIYI is in negotiations to expand further into Southeast Asia through a venture with Indonesia’s Media Nusantara Citra. iQIYI announced its first step outside Chinese-majority territories in June, when it revealed a linkup in Malaysia with pay-TV leader Astro. It also operates in Taiwan. In April, the company said that it planned [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content