Storytelling social network Flipagram signs music licensing deals with majors

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A slideshow, no matter how exciting the photos, can become boring when viewed in silence. To help you elevate it with an aural experience – without worrying about legal implications – Flipagram announced deals with multiple major record companies including Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music, Merlin, and The Orchard, as well as music publishers such as Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Universal Music Publishing Group, and BMG. The deals let Flipagram users attach music clips to their slideshows.

Flipagram, for those unfamiliar, is a photo- and video-based social networking app that lets users set their slideshows to music, but the deals give users more options to find the perfect song, with a few simple taps. The music partnerships, Flipagram says, make it the first fully licensed mobile social app.

“With these deals, our users get unprecedented access to a comprehensive catalog of popular, classic, and indie song clips to use as the soundtrack to their Flipagram stories,” says Farhad Mohit, founder and CEO of Flipagram, in a statement. “And our music partners benefit from having their music featured and available for purchase in the tens of millions of Flipagrams being created and shared each month worldwide.”

While an extensive music catalog of millions of songs, ranging from popular to even some obscure tracks, benefits Flipagram users and music companies, publishers and artists also get a marketing boost from the deal. Those creating Flipagram slideshows might discover a new song when going through different track selections. Viewers of Flipagram photo albums will also experience new music as they watch slideshows and hear tunes that have been selected to accompany. If they like the music, they have the option to purchase it, via iTunes or Spotify – a big benefit for the industry.

“As artists and performers, there’s no greater thrill than having our music be a part of others’ lives,” says Fifth Harmony’s Ally Brooke, in a statement. “It’s so fun to see how the Harmonizers user Flipagram to create their own life soundtracks and share their cherished memories through social media.”

Flipagram users can search the catalog of music clips to find a song that captures the mood of a slideshow. These short slideshows might be a group of shots from a vacation, a work gathering, wedding, social event, or some memorable time. Flipagram calls itself a storytelling app, where music plays a central role in the slideshows. The “gram” in its name could confuse you into thinking it’s related to Instagram (it’s not, although many Flipagram slideshows are reposted, or “reflipped,” to Instagram and other social networks), but it is a different experience.

Here’s how the company describes it: “Easy to create and fun to consume, Flipagrams are highly social, short video stories that offer more narrative space than Vine or Instagram looping videos, but are shorter and less cumbersome to create and share than longer length YouTube or Facebook videos.”

33 million users and growing

In addition to the licensing deals, Flipagram also announced that it raised $70 million in financing, through venture capital firms Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, and Index Ventures. The social network, which launched in 2013, counted 33 million users in its first year – more than any other social networks in their inaugural year. And, with new features like the licensed music partnerships, it’s certainly looking to grow. (It helps that its Mohit, its CEO, is the co-founder of Shopzilla and has years of experience in growing startups; the company is headed by several Internet veterans.)

“It’s all organic growth,” CEO Mohit tells us. “All other apps are quick-moment captures. We are about self-expression and short visual narratives [that are memorable]…storytelling is core to human life.” Unlike Instagram or Vine, Mohit says Flipagram lets users tell a larger narrative, while it’s far easier to create a quick story than trying to do it on YouTube.

According to the company, in December 2014, users were sharing about 700 million photos a day. In the first-quarter of 2015, more than 14 million Flipagram videos were created. It ranks high in both the iTunes and Google Play app stores, with favorable reviews and ratings from users.

These types of first-year numbers are impressive, and the new music deals could attract even more users, particularly those who are always searching for the next big thing (the majority of users are less than 25 years old). Mohit tells us that Flipagram is popular with musicians (naturally) and other celebs that want to connect with fans, and that the short Flipagrams get more engagement from users than any other platform. It’s obvious why Flipagram would want to enter into the licensing deals from a growth standpoint, but this active user base could also be lucrative for the labels.

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