The Force of TikTok

SPOTLIGHT
Elly Zulaikha
July 13, 2020
2 minutes

If you’ve been a fan of TikTok, already owning an account or simply the bystander who’s curious with TikTok, we’re here with a quick summary of TikTok’s origins, artists new “playground” and what’s next in store for the app giant.

You can also check out our compilation of viral songs that took of in TikTok by clicking here

The Beginnings of TikTok

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TikTok is a social media app that allows users to create and share 14-seconds long videos. Since its debut in 2016, it has since garnered 80 million downloads in the US alone and around 800 million times worldwide. 

Bytedance, its parent company which originated from China, merged the app together with musical.ly, another popular app with similar features it already owned in August 2018. Since then, TikTok’s number of monthly downloads surpassed Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube combined. 


A moment & a meme

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Mary Rahmani, TikTok’s director of music content and artist relations told Time in an email that “TikTok holds avenue for visual output and creative” and due to its collaborative nature, it certainly empowers many aspiring artists on the platform.

Additionally, the platform’s easy ability to find an audience, combined with its lack of intention (as evident in meme songs), has made TikTok extremely addictive for the younger audience. Christal Cody, associate direct fan engagement and digital marketing for Warner Records said, “It’s less about the artist and the song and it focuses more on how the [song] matches with what [users] are trying to convey. That’s why random things can blow up there, and why a person with zero followers can go viral”. 


Exposure = currency?

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Since music is very much available for free on the internet, most musicians who produce music must rely on touring, merchandises, and other kinds of jobs to make a living, as meager revenue generated by streaming has been an ongoing battle for artists. But let’s put the already messy issue of music streaming. 

For now, what’s going to happen for emerging artists, who reluctantly have been recognized as “TikTok star”, when they actually start signing up to music labels and set their identities firmly on the ground? Having a platform may be the starting point, but to sustain themselves in trying to calculate the amount of exposure to currency?

One TikTok spokesperson said, “TikTok is an exciting way for songs and emerging artists to gain exposure through a wide [range] of audience. We work closely with rights holders to build and protect a library of sound on the platform, which is available for users to incorporate it into their short videos”.

Image via consequenceofsound

Artists either have two choices to go from here: one, they try to consistently create similar content that made them blow up on the app and engage with their fans so hopefully, they’ll reach new audiences. Two, they’ll have to go the legal route and oftentimes process of claiming royalties and credits for their music.


Will it meet Vine’s fate?


Image via RollingStone

Indeed, the more we see TikTok blowing up here and there on the internet, coupled with emerging artists and monthly memes in the roaster, TikTok has earned comparisons to Vine, its app predecessor that features many, if not all, similar qualities TikTok has. 

Although Vine content was more widely consumed and spread outside the app, TikTok is more self-contained. TikTok users quickly create and disseminate memes within the community first, before they spread to other parts of the internet like Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter.

While TikTok has seen artists like Lil Nas X, Lizzo and Ava Max climbing the Billboard 100 charts, Vine was also responsible for popularizing songs like Denzel Curry’s “Ultimate”, Silento’s “Watch Me”, to giving artists like Shawn Mendes a whole new singing career in the years to come.

Image via trutower


However, whether or not TikTok will find longer-term success than its predecessor, is yet to be guessed. But for now, let the results speak for themselves.