Ask Answers: Everything You Need to Know About the Video Sharing Platform TikTok
No, TikTok is not a reference to the famous Kesha song. It’s the short-form, video sharing app that Gen Z loves — and it’s taking the world by storm one dance challenge at a time. Back in 2017, ByteDance acquired Musical.ly, an app similar to the modern day TikTok, for a whopping $1 billion and decided to merge the two similar platforms. This investment more than paid off for the company. According to a March 2020 report from Sensor Tower, TikTok has been downloaded more than 2 billion times worldwide. In March alone, the app saw 115 million downloads.
Despite the app’s rapid rise, plenty of non-Gen Z folks don’t really know what it’s all about. For millennials, TikTok might most closely align with Vine (R.I.P.), a video sharing app that challenged users to make content in seven seconds or less. When TikTok first started to gain steam, it was often described as a lip-syncing app, like some sort of karaoke meets the "Lip Sync for Your Life" segment from RuPaul’s Drag Race. But neither of those comparisons quite capture the breadth of the video sharing app, which has wholly embraced internet culture as a way to create content that’s satisfying, addictive and interrelated.
What Makes TikTok Different?
While Musical.ly was originally known as a lip syncing platform, The Wall Street Journal noted that 2017, the year Musical.ly and TikTok merged, "will be remembered as the year Musical.ly transitioned from an app primarily for posting music videos to a broader social media entertainment platform." If anything, the uptick in TikTok downloads during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place and social distancing measures reveals that audiences and creators alike are craving this kind of short-form, collaborative content. The result is something that combines social media’s interactivity with YouTube-style humor.
How TikTok Has Changed Celebrity Culture, Social Media and Content Creation
Digiday has found that more than half of TikTok’s users are between the ages of 13 and 24. Needless to say, if you’re intent on capturing the attention of young adults, teens and tweens, TikTok is the place to be, which means popular Musers, like Baby Ariel and Loren Grey, have gained legions of followers. Musers can also earn money through the app: Fans can purchase monetary gifts for their favorite Musers, and for their part, Musers can form brand partnerships. Then there’s the impact on the music industry. From Drake’s number one single to labels raking in money if a song goes viral, TikTok has proved lucrative.