For the next 24 hours, only on Snapchat, you can view a new single and video from a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter named Laura Saggers. And then, like most other things on the mobile app, it vanishes.
But Saggers hopes that potentially getting her song and her name in front of Snapchat’s estimated 200 million users will have a more lasting impact on her career. And Snapchat, very quietly, is taking another step forward in trying to demonstrate the power of the remarkable media platform it launched earlier this year: Snapchat Discover.
“I’m so excited,” Saggers said. “I have been dying to find a cool technology to release my next single and this is pretty dope.”
Indeed it is. Snapchat became a phenomenon thanks to its fundamental feature that lets users send photos to other users that then disappear after being viewed. When Snapchat, based in Venice, California, released Discover back in January, it had some people — including me — scratching their heads.
But consider me a convert. The 15 or so partners that launched on Discover include CNN, ESPN, Yahoo, Fusion, and Vice. Far from throwing up some scraps from other stories and segments, each outlet carefully crafts the presentation and content with their sections each day. The video loads incredibly fast, and the storytelling is very engaging.
Discover is probably the single best intersection of mobile + video + news that I’ve seen since the launch of the first iPhone seven years ago.
And I’m clearly not alone. Recode recently reported that Snapchat was charging ad rates almost double what typical mobile video publishers can get. Fusion’s Kevin Roose wrote that Snapchat could be “the biggest thing in news since Twitter.”
“The media is right to gossip: Snapchat Discover is huge,” Roose wrote. “I’m not privy to Fusion’s Snapchat metrics (and even if I were, they wouldn’t be representative of the platform as a whole, since we’re only on the non-US, non-UK versions of Discover) and Snapchat isn’t giving out any specifics. But from speaking to people at several other news organizations, I can tell you secondhand that the numbers, at least for the initial launch period, were enormous. We’re talking millions of views per day, per publisher.”
Yep. And that sort of momentum is why a group of YouTube stars are planning a series for Discover called “SnapperHero.” And it’s why Madonna, back in early February, became the first performer to debut a new video and single on Snapchat.
And that brings us back to Saggers. She remains an independent, unsigned artist who has slowly built her career by releasing her own digital tracks and building a following through social media and YouTube and even by accepting Bitcoin. She made a bit of a splash last year when she wrote a song about her love of Bitcoin.
That video apparently caught the attention of someone at Snapchat who approached Saggers a few weeks ago to appear on its weekly “Under the Ghost” show. Snapchat has its own section on its Discover platform where a new episode of the show appears each Wednesday.
Snapchat filmed Saggers and her band performing the new single which she officially released today, “Summer Fling.” That video clip is the one that can only be seen on Snapchat and will disappear after 24 hours.
However, Saggers also recorded her own video:
Working with some unsigned artists makes sense for Snapchat. It’s easy to imagine that if Snapchat can demonstrate some metrics or impact that flow from such appearances, it will give the company some leverage to negotiate bigger deals with major record labels.
With a number of celebrities already active Snapchat users, it’s not hard to imagine the service becoming a major platform for discovering music, video, and news in the coming months. The Yahoo news section features Katie Couric, which is just the sort of thing that once seemed unthinkable but now seems very forward-looking on her part.
It’s too soon to say whether these media ambitions will remain a subset of Snapchat’s larger, core service. But the company clearly has much bigger plans for Discover, and the media industry would be wise to study it carefully and watch its progress closely.