TikTok is the new top dog in the social media game, and in September 2021, the short-form video app hit one billion users and has been praised as the number one platform for audience engagement thanks to its short-form videos and unlimited space for creativity.
In its early days, TikTok merged with Musical.ly, a social network built around lip-syncing and dancing that was already popular with younger audiences.
TikTok kept elements of Musical.ly whilst also building spaces for more sub-genres and communities to thrive in the app, including its smartphone-only usage and fast-paced nature, keeping users engaged for an average of 52 minutes a day.
From the moment you open the app, TikTok’s intelligent algorithm is learning from you in order to build a perfect feed. The more you use the app, the more freakishly accurate and relatable your ‘For You Page’ becomes.
TikTok advises the use of hashtags, sounds and effects that can help boost your video to virality, a lottery that is applicable to all users, giving everyone an equal opportunity to make it big on the app, regardless of likes and follower counts.
It’s because of this that collaborations are more likely to happen through the addicting app. For brands, the app is a refreshingly playful landscape that can boost their credibility and easily connect them with creators and vice versa, resulting in paid partnerships, bookings, etc.
“I genuinely think that if certain brands or even artists (eg. Griff, Central Cee, Young T and Bugsey and Ryanair) did not go viral on the TikTok platform they would not be where they are today. The platform has marketed itself to be more personable and real in comparison to Instagram, which responds highly to the younger generation due to the fact that usual marketing tactics are now common to them,” says Hazi Adamu, a TikTok specialist working for Bleach London.
TikTok offers a brilliant opportunity for marketers to reach younger audiences around the globe and its success in doing so has resulted in companies hiring TikTok specialists to specifically tap into this side of social media.
Hazi gave us an insight into the demands of her role as a specialist: “I think it starts the conversation that you can’t expect one person to run all these social platforms and it’s very much a team effort. From my experience, TikTok is such a demanding app that if you are not constantly giving the platform the attention it needs you can get lost in the algorithm.
“On the plus side, Tiktok is now the starter of most trends, the buzz around them goes faster making the platform one of the best places to advertise your brands and services, especially to the Gen Z market.”
There’s no restriction of creativity on the app, whether you want to use a filter, a green screen background or upload screenshots to voice over, TikTok has made creating content easy for everyone. Unlike other social media platforms, TikTok’s algorithm nurtures emerging trends and encourages users to show off their talent and push content out, rather than obsessing over centralising an audience and prioritising growth and discovery.
When it comes to music, virality can depend on how a song is received. If it’s catchy enough, dance challenges are often created, which have previously led to the track racing up the charts.
Doja Cat’s Say So dance challenge, created by Haley Sharpe, racked up over 20 million video creations, helping the solo version of the song peak at number four on the charts. Since then, at least eight more of Doja’s songs have created enough buzz to go viral on the app, including snippets of unreleased tracks, thanks to their magical hooks and repetitive lyrics.
Today, Doja Cat’s TikTok reign continues to have an impact on her music career and has led to her dethroning Drake as the rapper with the most monthly listeners on Spotify, with 63.69 million streams a month compared to Drake’s 63.3 million streams.
It’s a similar story for the mysterious Pink Pantheress, a new starlet from TikTok who creates ‘new nostalgic’ music inspired by British DnB and garage and is laced with hypnotic, love-drunk lyrics.
She started off posting short, snippy tracks that are well suited to the app’s short-video format and have since been dubbed an overnight celebrity, going from 15 or so likes on Soundcloud to more than seven million likes on TikTok and 10 million Spotify streams from her recent single Just For Me.
In an interview with BBC News, Pink Pantheress acknowledges the power of TikTok in boosting the reach of her tracks, “The algorithm is crazy on TikTok, you can post a video and you can have zero followers and it can do well.”
Doja Cat and Pink Pantheress are a few of many artists who have used TikTok as a promotional tool and have massively reaped the benefits of doing so.
We spoke to Alberto from DoggoSounds, a TikTok account that demystifies the dynamics of TikTok and focuses on artists emerging thanks to the platform about what this means for the future of music.
“Now, it’s the best platform for being discovered out of nowhere, in my opinion. Of course, understanding the platform, using it and creating relevant content takes up a lot of time but there are countless examples of collaborations between TikTok artists and record labels or established music companies,” Alberto told us.
“If you’re an emerging artist, I think that being on TikTok really helps in finding an audience. In addition, more and more legacy artists are getting on TikTok – the most recent ones being The Beatles and ABBA. For many, TikTok was just the right match that kickstarted their careers. We are used to seeing just the tip of the iceberg.”
TikTok is still in its prime and thanks to Alberto and Hazi’s expertise, it’s clear to see the app still has much longer in the prime spot. As the trends and songs continue, it’s exciting to see how things play out.
Featured image by Solen Feyissa via Flickr CC.
Edited by Charlotte Griffin and Atiyyah Ntiamoah-Addo