In August 2014, the app Musical.ly was released, and it’s a platform which users can create and share short lip-synced videos. Through the app, users could create 15-second to 1-minute lip-syncing music videos and choose sound tracks to accompany them, use different speed options (time-lapse, fast, normal, slow motion, and epic) and add pre-set filters and effects. The app also allowed users to browse popular “musers,” content, trending songs, sounds and hashtags, and uniquely interact with their fans. In June 2016, Musical.ly had over 90 million registered users, up from 10 million a year earlier. By the end of May 2017, the app had reached over 200 million users. ByteDance Ltd. acquired Musical.ly Inc. on November 9, 2017, and merged it into TikTok on August 2, 2018. At the same time, Musical.ly Inc. changed its name to TikTok, Inc.
TikTok became very popular and became the most downloaded app in October 2018. It was available in over 150 markets and in 75 different languages. Currently, 40% of TikTok users are located outside China. India has a particularly large user base and accounts for approximately 25% of app downloads to date. As of March 2019, the user base of TikTok in the US was approximately 14 Million. The 2019 internet trends report revealed that China internet users spent more than 600 million hours per day watching short videos.
When you open TikTok, you usually start on the for you page. The for you page is where videos are recommended to users based on their activity on the app. Content is generated by TikTok’s artificial intelligence (AI) depending on the content a user liked, interacted with, or searched. Users can also choose to add to favorites or select “not interested” on videos for their page. TikTok combines the user’s enjoyed content to provide videos that they would also enjoy. Users and their content can only be featured on the “for you” page if they are 16 or over as per TikTok policy. Users under 16 will not show up under the “For You” page, the sounds page, or under any hashtag.
The “For You” page consist of people lip-syncing, dancing, doing trends, or even promoting music. This app is a great way to share your music to a really big audience. DaBaby, Conkarah, Puri, Natalie Taylor, Kbfr, StaySolidRocky, and so many more gained a larger following because users are repeatedly being exposed to the same music when a trend goes viral. The users will eventually search the name of the song. Songs that inspire people to create unique videos often start to appear at the top of the trends.
The app isn’t only changing how people are consuming music, but also how artists are creating music. Artists are now making music that could be cut up into smaller clips for the sake of gaining viral status online. According to the Billboard charts, songs have decreased in length by 20 seconds from 2013 to 2018 and continue to drop. We can see a good example in the song “Old Town Road” which is only 1:53. Some creators are focused on making loopable beats or catchy lyrics in hopes of catching the attention of users, especially with features such as the TikTok spotlight that are designed to discover independent and unsigned artists. Many songs on the Billboard Top 50 have also been made popular from the app further demonstrating TikTok’s power in exposing artists.
It’s safe to say that TikTok is changing the landscape of the music industry and the way that artists are strategizing and marketing their brands. It’s great advice to anyone who is pursuing music to learn as much as they can about TikTok to leverage its power. The world of music is always evolving, but right now it is TikTok that is at the forefront influencing the latest trends!