Facebook has a new rival to Tiktok in Collab

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Social media titan Facebook’s internal R&D group, NPE Team, has revealed a new app called Collab. With Collab, the focus has now turned to video, and specifically, the concept of watching, mixing and matching original videos together, beginning with music.

Collab can be utilized to either record their own musical composition or swipe to discover arrangements to create a composition or a “collab.” While there are some components of TikTok’s duets in this idea, the exception is that all videos posted to Collab can be mixed and matched with others. TikTok, meanwhile, permits creators to manage who can duet with them.

In addition, Collab is only intended for making original music videos for the time being, which sets it apart from other video apps including TikTok, Dubsmash, Triller and more, which have users generating content for the music from popular songs available via an in-app catalog.

The collabs can only be up to 15 seconds in length, as this is not expected to be a professional music-making platform, but rather one that’s used for fun and experimentation.

Once users have built a collab, they can distribute it for others to watch in the app’s feed or to further remix. However, the underlying music itself cannot be remixed but only the videos. The resulting collab can also be published to other social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook Stories and more. The app uses the iOS Share Sheet, so that means it could even export to TikTok. In other words, it’s not a straightforward response to TikTok but a way to profit on the larger network of video creation tools that are rising because of TikTok’s growth.

Collab Interface

There are plenty of existing apps that enable users to collaborate with others on music, including mixing sounds, making recordings and arranging compositions. But these tend to be digital audio workstation (DAW) software programs or at least those directed at semi-professional to professional musicians. Spotify’s Soundtrap is one example. BandLab, Endless, Bandpass and Kompoz are a few others. Vampr, meanwhile, encourages musicians to discover new collaborators. Collab, meanwhile, is more open to mainstream users — including those who play music for fun or are just fans of music in general.

Facebook says it has been working on Collab for a few months, but pushed the launch in light of so many people being housed in place around the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Digital spaces can connect us when we can’t be together in person, and Collab is a new way to create together,”
– a Facebook company spokesperson 

However, the app itself is not ready to rapidly scale, which is why it’s being published today as an invite-only beta.

The organization notes there’s still work that needs to be done to better the app’s experience, but the team will be iterating on the product and reacting to user feedback going forward. More people will be able to join Collab as invites roll out in batches.

Collab is the latest in a series of releases from Facebook’s R&D group, NPE Team, which so far has unveiled a small handful of apps, including meme creator Whale, conversational app Bump, music app Aux, video app Hobbi, couples app Tuned, Apple Watch app Kit and, just yesterday, a group calling app CatchUp. (Bump has since shut down.)

Prior to CatchUp, apps were revealed with little fanfare, but now Facebook is publicly advertising their debuts and responding to questions. That’s a change in strategy for the team and one that could point Facebook’s desire to gain on users’ hunger for new social and entertainment experiences while stuck at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Collab is available as an invite-only beta on iOS in the U.S. and Canada.