The last time Music Ally wrote about social-music app Dubsmash was in December 2016, when it had just raised a $9.6m funding round in order to fight back against fast-rising rival Musical.ly, which was gaining more traction with a similar app for shooting and sharing lip-sync videos. We know how that story ended: Musical.ly’s user-base continued to rocket and it ultimately was acquired for more than $800m and Dubsmash… wasn’t. But what did happen to it?
Journalist Cherie Hu has chased down some details, following the news last week that someone was selling details of 161.5m Dubsmash accounts on the dark web. The company hasn’t just been battling against hackers though: it laid off all-bar-five employees in the summer of 2017; relocated from Berlin to New York; and then relaunched its app in October 2018 with an emphasis on dance challenges rather than lip-dubs.
Dubsmash told Hu that there are now “more than one million people coming into the app every month”, while the app is back in the top 10 chart of the US App Store’s Entertainment category. The company also claims that its current user-base is 95% people of colour: “25% of black American teens use Dubsmash on a regular basis.” Meanwhile, the article also raises the sensitive question of licensing, with Dubsmash pointing out that music clips used in its videos are “10 seconds or less”, and a major-label source suggesting that “the number of seconds doesn’t matter in a company’s ability to claim fair use… Dubsmash still has that liability.”