The most important decision of your Musical.ly marketing campaign is which section of your song to make available on the app. This was true when I wrote about it in June, and it’s true now. As the rights holder, you have control over which 15-second clip appears in the Musical.ly catalog, so don't settle for what you see on the app if it's not right.
The goal of your campaign is to maximize the number of kids, typically aged 9 to 15, who film themselves lip-syncing your song. Sex, drugs, violence, and profanity may sell in the music marketplace at large, but because of Musical.ly’s demographics they can hurt your performance on the platform. Keeping it clean is the best practice to maximize engagement and reach.
Two weeks ago, for example, I got a call from a teenager: “Max, did you know this song has the word n-i-*-*-*-*?” Yes, she spelled it out. She was one of four massively influential users who, citing language that made them uncomfortable, declined to post this particular song.
It wasn’t only power users concerned with their personal image who thought twice. In the comment sections of the musicals that were posted I found hundreds of young fans requesting the clean version of the song so they could re-muse the track on their accounts. The language had crossed their line and millions of impressions were lost.
I will admit there are outliers. One of the most successful clips on Musical.ly, “Broccoli (feat. Lil Yachty)” by D.R.A.M., contains profanity, an n-bomb, and the glorification of the Columbine tragedy [watch here]. Musical.ly has definitely contributed to the song’s global success, but it is the exception to the rule. Catering to Musical.ly’s youngest users is our recommendation for maximizing engagement.
To be clear, this is in no way a call for self-censorship as it relates to songwriting and music. This is Musical.ly-specific feedback from the front lines. Explicit content has been a non-starter for portions of the platform’s user base and lip-syncing a racial epithet can feel like committing a hate crime. Trust your judgement and default to clean versions where possible. Let me know if there's an issue with your clip and I'll show you how to make it right.