What happened to Musically?

  • Musically, or Musical.ly as it is officially known, was a Chinese social media platform that was headquartered in Shanghai. After passing 200 million users in May 2017, the platform was shut down by tech company ByteDance in November.
  • After its acquisition, ByteDance suggested Musical.ly would continue to operate as a standalone platform. Company representatives noted that it would be able to leverage ByteDance’s AI technology and enormous reach in the Chinese market.
  • Musically was ultimately absorbed into TikTok in June 2018, with the app no longer available in August of the same year. Existing users were offered technical support and several new features as a sweetener.

Origin story

Musically, or Musical.ly as it is officially known, was a Chinese social media platform that was headquartered in Shanghai.

The platform was founded by Alex Zhu and Lulu Yang and originally featured short videos of users lip-syncing music.

Musically was launched in April 2014, with the official version released four months later.

The platform surpassed 90 million users in the middle of 2016 and then 200 million users by the end of May 2017.

Six months later, Beijing-based tech company ByteDance announced it would acquire Musically for around $1 billion and shut down the platform.

So what happened to Musically?


The Musical.ly app was initially released for both the American and Chinese markets, but it was clear early on that it was far more popular among American teenagers.

The app gained significant early traction, becoming the most popular app in the App Store in July 2015. At this point, Musically had spread to Canada, the UK, Brazil, Japan, Germany, and the Philippines, with millions of videos posted daily.

ByteDance acquisition

Musical.ly was acquired by TikTok parent company Byte Dance on November 9, 2017.

In announcing the acquisition, a company representative described the deal as a “merger” and provided no official detail on how it would be handled. 

Nevertheless, the representative appeared to alleviate concerns about what would happen to Musically under ByteDance ownership: “Musical.ly will continue to operate as an independent platform, integrating ByteDance’s global leading [artificial intelligence] technology and leveraging its reach in China and key markets across Asia to enhance Musical.ly’s offering to users, creators, and partners.

It was widely assumed that the deal would also allow TikTok to leverage the platform’s young user base in the United States and further its global expansion efforts.

Absorption into TikTok

In June 2018, it was evident that ByteDance had had a change of heart. The company noted that the Musical.ly app would no longer be available as of August 2.

The app’s hundreds of millions of users – including their content and followers – would be absorbed into TikTok to consolidate both audiences on a single platform.

Musical.ly users were also offered technical support and performance analytics to help them grow in a new environment.

What’s more, new features were added such as interactive gesture filters, fun-house mirror cameras, and greenscreen-esque background effects.

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