Stars of video networking platform on how to build audience that translates into big bucks
They call themselves Musers. They have been crowned (the equivalent of being verified on Instagram or Facebook) and have more than one lakh followers. What do they do? They are the kings and queens on a social media platform called musical.ly, where they perform on pre-recorded music or dialogues, with a whole lot of effects and technical tricks thrown in. It's a little bit like being an actor while starring in your own home movie. Addictive to watch, it's easy to see that these videos are tricky to make. But, young Musers have it all figured out.
Awez Darbar, Nagma Mirajkar, Aashika Bhatia and Farhan Khan. Pic/Pradep Dhivar
Twenty-five-year-old Nagma Mirajkar started off two years ago, when the Chinese app had just entered the Indian market. A marketing and business development professional, she moonlighted as a fashion and beauty blogger. Then, musical.ly happened. "My first video barely got 10 likes." She now gets over l lakh likes for each upload and is on top of the musical.ly leader board (where the trending musers are mentioned) almost every day. "I went on YouTube and educated myself on how to do this. There are tutorials for everything — how to transition from one scene to another, how you change angles. This app is not about stitching videos together, you have to pause and then record, pause and then record. It's hard initially, but you soon get a hang of it."
Musical.ly is a social networking app for video creation, messaging, and live broadcasting. The first prototype was released in 2014. Through the app, users can create 15-second to one-minute videos and choose sound tracks to accompany them, use different speed options (time-lapse, slow, normal, fast, and epic) and add pre-set filters and effects. It now has over 90 million registered users and an average of 12 million new videos posted every day.
(L to R) Awez Darbar, Nagma Mirajkar, Aashika Bhatia, and Farhan Khan, all stars on music.ly, at Versova Social. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
Mirajkar's first popular video, which was made early this year and got 2,000 likes, was part of the #bundropchallenge, where Musers had to make slow motion videos of a hair bun dropping from their head. "Some actually put a real edible bun on their heads to be creative. That video got featured, and then I realised I have the early bird advantage, and started putting more and more," says the Mumbai girl.
These days, most, if not all of Mirajkar's videos, get featured with an average of 1 lakh likes. Her recent one shows her in a Southern belle Halloween make-up (which she did herself) and is quite a treat to watch. Her friends, other top Musers, also share her drive and commitment. Dr Farhan Khan, known by his musical.ly name Fizuliyat, is a homeopathic doctor in Belgaum, Karnataka. The 29-year-old found his alter ego last year, when his videos started doing well.
These days, he has drooling women direct messaging him with marriage proposals. "Once I made a video from the roof of my house in Belgaum, and some boys figured out where I live, and came home with gifts," says the youthful-looking muser, who just finished a collaboration with fellow muser Aashika Bhatia, who is all of 17. The Surat girl has been acting in ads and TV shows for a few years and shifted with her make-up artist mother to Mumbai. "Many people think we do this only because we don't have any other work," she laughs, "but it helps you increase your fan following by miles."
Her sentiment finds an echo in Awez Darbar, 27, a Mumbai choreographer, who has recently become popular on the app for his dance moves, and routinely does dance collaborations with fellow Musers. "The amount of followers I gain [with each upload] is mad. It has also translated into more people coming for my dance classes."
Mirajkar had only around 20,000 followers on Instagram this January. Today she has over one lakh, who eagerly wait for every new video. "Unlike Farhan, I don't have any admirers. They call me 'didi'! I did a video once where I showed my middle finger, and everyone responded with a 'didi, haw! Why are you doing that? We are a nice clean lot," she laughs.
While the app has helped them get famous, their talent has also helped them make an earning. Along with bagging endorsements and collaborations with brands, they also log on to live.ly, an integrated app. "You log on and do a live session, where you play games with your fans, chat, sing, dance… anything. And then your fans, who just want you to notice them, give you gifts. Each gift is worth points, and for every 1,000 points you get $100 from the app. Some people make over '1 lakh a month through that. It also helps you keep your followers happy." says Mirajkar.
And followers they have many. At a recent meet-and-greet the app makers organised at a Malad mall between the artistes and their fans, almost 300 children turned up, all wanting a picture and video with the stars. "The mall managers asked us to leave! But we plan to do more of these. In America, the top musers get taken around for tours, and sell tickets to let people see them," they say. But it's clear that they are here to stay. As Mirajkar says, "Nothing happens overnight. I have done this for two years to get here. If I stop tomorrow, I won't be on the leader board, and then people will forget me! You have to keep working, keep getting better, keep moving."
Rs 1 lakh
What Musers can earn per month through the integrated app live.ly