Facebook’s experimental app division has a new product out today called Collab that promises to deliver a new approach to collaborative music-making. The app, launching as an invite-only beta on iOS, is from Facebook’s NPE division (short for new product experimentation). If it already in that brief description sounds like another swing at the cultural and creative juggernaut that is TikTok, that’s because it is.
Collab’s primary pitch is that you can create short-form videos split into three simultaneous sources, so you can perform a single song by playing three different instruments and stitching it all together. Or you and one or two other friends can collaborate together by each supplying one of three parts.
Fb’s newest TikTok-inspired app is a music-making platform known as Collab
The app will let you create short music videos using other people’s posts
Facebook says you’ll still be able to share them with other platforms, like Instagram and TikTok, but only after they’re posted to Collab. There also won’t be a “save to camera roll” option for getting the videos off Collab, at least for now. Facebook said it expedited the release of an in-progress version of Collab to give people a creative outlet during the pandemic, hence the invite-only beta. “Facebook’s New Product Experimentation team is launching an invite-only beta of Collab, an iOS app that brings together creators and fans to create, watch, and mix and match original videos, starting with music. Digital spaces can connect us when we can’t be together in person, and Collab is a new way to create together,” a company spokesperson tells Tech Review.
The same was true of TikTok, which barreled toward mind-bending popularity in its earlier days thanks to near-identical features like react and duet, which allowed users to borrow others’ posts to react to or collaborate with, without needing permission. In fact, TikTok only became a massive, worldwide phenomenon by first starting as a Chinese lip-syncing platform and growing from there into a unique fusion of Instagram, Vine, and YouTube.
Facebook has tried and failed, to emulate TikTok in the past, most notably with the Reels editing feature on Instagram and the standalone app Lasso. The company also goes to great lengths to monitor up-and-coming startups that might steal its social thunder. For those reasons, Collab is as much a set of unique music-making tools as it is another stab at reclaiming the teenage cool factor every Facebook product, from the main app to Instagram, inevitably cedes to younger, more culturally savvy apps over time.
The company says you can sign up to try Collab here, and availability will start with iPhone owners in the US and Canada. But the NPE team has been working on the product for a few months, and the company says it already has creators using it to fill the feed with usable clips new users can draw from