Gunning to be the social network where artists connect with their fans is an ambitious goal. But Flipagram has deep pockets and offers the one thing most of its competitors from Facebook to niche players don’t – artist monetization.
By music and entertainment consultant Cortney Harding
Since closing a $70 million series B round earlier this year, Flipagram has been gunning for dominance in the music space. Its most recent development: the launch of a feature called the Music Video Camera, which enables users to shoot music videos and lip sync to their favorite music. Flipagram also announced that it has partnered with pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen to be September’s artist of the month.
But let’s face it, “startup announces features” isn’t much of a story. The bigger story here is what Flipagram’s strong music play means for the industry and for other social networks. Flipagram’s goal is not to serve as a place where artists can go and then link out to other, more traditional social networks — it’s to become the new social network of choice for artists and their fans.
Artist Monetization Is Flipagram’s Trump Card
Flipagram’s biggest trump card in all of this is that unlike other social networks, artists monetize their content on the app. While other social networks offer data on engagement and other nebulous metrics, Flipagram offers artists money, as well as a way to connect with fans around multimedia images. The adoption rate has been high, with artists like Pharrell and Madonna embracing the app.
“Flipagram allows for visual storytelling, not just listening or looking at an image,” says John Bolton, the VP of Business Development at Flipagram (and former head of Product and Marketing at Muve). “We let people tell stories with depth and duration, and those stories drive conversation and engagement.”
Artists can also request that fans create their own Flipagrams for certain tracks, and can “reflip” their favorite videos. If fans want to engage outside the app, there are links to buy tracks on iTunes or listen on Spotify, with more partners to come. And while the music video camera feature only allows users to lip-sync, not upload original audio, Bolton says that the feature is only version 1.0, and says that there is “a lot of opportunity to expand.”
Plenty of artists are dissatisfied with the existing social options. Facebook’s algorithms mean artists are never sure who sees posts, and Twitter can feel like a giant sea of text and an echo chamber. Instagram only allows for still images and videos, so artists can feel like music is being left out of the equation, and Snapchat’s ephemerality can be a negative. But Flipagram allows artists and fans to put photo and video content together with music, and pays out to boot.
While Flipagram has a global audience (currently 40% of their users are in the US), it still skews young and female, so it’s not the perfect fit for every artist. But for pop, hip-hop, and rock artists, there’s a real chance it might be the social platform of the future.