Over the weekend, Facebook tiptoed out the launch of a new app aimed at two specific things: competing against the massive video media app TikTok (formerly Musical.ly) and winning back teenage users. The app, Lasso, lets users share 15-second “short-form, entertaining videos” and touts, per Facebook’s pointed wording, a “massive music library” — which comes from the company’s licensing deals struck with major publishers and record labels earlier this year.
Facebook rolled out its new platform without fanfare, possibly following in the lead of TikTok/Musical.ly, which rose to stardom more from word-of-mouth popularity than professional promotion. Lasso users can login with existing accounts on either Facebook or Instagram, and the company says the videos they create can eventually be shared on both platforms as well.
Lasso’s raison d’être is obvious. Earlier this year, a Pew Research Century survey indicated that only half of people aged 13 to 17 in the U.S. today use Facebook, preferring YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat as their dominant form of social media — even though Facebook was the top platform among that same population in Pew’s previous study on the matter in 2015.
To lure back that key demographic of teenage users that’s since fled for cooler alternatives, Facebook is leaning heavily on music. Its deals with labels and publishers have allowed it to offer millions of songs for placement within user-generated content, like Instagram stories, Facebook posts and now Lasso videos. “Together with the music industry, we are working to enable people around the world to include music in their videos on Facebook, opening up more options for creativity and sharing memories with friends and family,” two of the company’s executives said in a blog post announcing other music-integrating video features in June.
Financial terms of the deals have not been disclosed. But if not lucrative, Facebook’s keen interest in music is a good exposure opportunity for newer artists — provided that the company’s products actually catch on.