In the latest Trapital podcast, Dan Runcie talks to MIDiA Research’s Tati Cirisano about short form video and the three-sided battleground being fought between TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels. Questions asked were which company added the most value - to artists and creators, to the music industry, and to its parent company. The conclusions: TikTok is the most valuable to artists and creators given its massive reach and cultural cache. YouTube Shorts is the one that’s most valuable to music since strong agreements are in place, and YouTube is proud of the billions it pays to the industry. Reels is the most valuable for its parent company.

TikTok has blocked access to major label music for some users of its app in Australia last month in an effort to monitor user behavior – it was an experiment to see just how much its audience really valued 'premium' music. TikTok took that step in the middle of negotiations with the majors for its next round of music licensing agreements. Bloomberg reports that the number of people using TikTok in Australia declined for three consecutive weeks after the experiment began, and the amount of time users spent on the app declined in the same period.

What makes us tick
March 02, 2023

The US on the way of total ban of TikTok

On Wednesday (March 1) the US House Foreign Affairs Committee voted to advance a bill that would effectively give President Joe Biden powers to ban TikTok in the US. The bill, known as the ‘Deterring America’s Technological Adversaries Act’, would also allow for the control of other China-related economic activity, if signed into law. The passage of the bill comes just days after The White House’s Office of Management and Budget issued a 30-day deadline for the app to be deleted from Federal employees devices due to national security concerns. On Monday (February 27), Canada also announced the banning of TikTok from all government-issued devices. Last week, The European Commission, the European Union’s executive arm, also banned its staff from using the ByteDance-owned video app on their work phones over cyber security concerns. The European Parliament also banned its staff from using TikTok this week.

The four major recorded music companies – Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music, and indie collective Merlin – have cumulatively lost 12% of market share on Spotify over the past five years, MBW reports. In 2017 they accounted for 87% tracks played on Spotify, and last year 75% of plays of music tracks on the platform were distributed by the ‘big three’ majors or a Merlin member. The rest of the 25% was distributed by companies that were unaffiliated with the majors or Merlin. In related news, TikTok has launched its independent distribution platform SoundOn in Australia - it lets artists upload their music directly to TikTok and RESSO and can also distribute artists’ music to platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and Instagram. SoundOn was already Live in the UK, US, Brazil, and Indonesia, after launching in March last year, the MBW reports.

TikTok has removed major record company music from its service for a number of its users in Australia, who no longer have the choice to use it in their videos, Bloomberg reports. MBW is guessing that TikTok is aiming to use the results of the experiment in their next round of record company licensing negotiations. The estimate is TikTok is hoping that the removal of major label music won’t have a profound effect on the engagement of users on the service. This then opens up a conversation about the true monetary value of music licensing from major record labels.

Patrick Hicks has a TikTok channel where is telling interesting music stories 4-5 times a week. He started in April 2022 because his wife challenged him to do a new creative project for 30 days. Now, he has nearly 300,000 followers. In MJI interview he points out that he'd like to see "more positivity and enthusiasm for music. I didn’t really know what to call myself when I first started doing this—journalist, historian, storyteller—and then somebody in the comments said I was a 'music celebrator' and I really like that. Music is so amazing, I’d love to see more celebrating of it".

Country superstar Kane Brown's manager Martha Earls shares some interesting thoughts in an MBW interview about signing musicians based on their viral TikTok videos. "People are signing moments – 15 seconds of a song being popular — without a plan to develop a long-term career for the artist they’re signing. That’s troublesome to me because that implies these artists are disposable people. ‘Oh, you had a hit, we’ll sign you. You don’t have another one? Whatever, we’ve moved on.’ Are you really giving them everything they need to have the most successful career possible? I do have some concerns with that".

ContraBrand Marketing Agency released their latest report How Artists are Going Viral on TikTok in 2022, featuring analysis of all 20 of TikTok’s weekly Top 200 Tracks by country charts. CB's study specifically examined all tracks released in 2022 which went on to become respective artists' most streamed songs in their Spotify catalog, with a minimum of one million streams.

The key takeouts:

Artist-Generated Content (AGC) the most common method for breakout artists to go viral in 2022 (35.5%). It is also the most cost-effective and lowest barrier to entry for artists looking to break into the music industry.

Of the 208 artists analyzed in this report, 117 of them were unsigned (56.2%) — all accumulating more than 1 million Spotify streams thanks to TikTok. 63.1% of these unsigned artists went viral without the need to run ads, pay influencers or hire agencies to develop trends around their tracks.

Read the full reports here.

Vox partnered with data analysis website The Pudding to figure out what happens between a song going viral and an artist becoming a bonafide success. "It turns out the app is completely revolutionizing the way record labels work, and giving artists more leverage than ever".

The clock is TikToking
September 27, 2021

TikTok reaches 1 billion users

TikTok revealed today that it has over 1 billion global Monthly Active Users (MAUs), TechCrunch reports. As of October 2020 the TikTok app was reaching 732 million monthly active users (MAUs) around the world. One of TikTok’s main competitors Instagram, first hit a billion unique monthly users in June 2018. This July, TikTok became the first non-Facebook app to reach 3 billion global downloads.

As of May 2021, TikTok surpassed YouTube in both the US and the UK for average time spent per user, per month on Android - US-based TikTok users on Android devices spent an average of 24.5 hours a month on the platform, compared to 22 hours per user, per month on YouTube; in the UK, TikTok users were spending 26 hours a month on the platform, while UK YouTube users were spending just 16 per month. As of October 2020, the TikTok app was reaching 732 million monthly active users globally, whereas YouTube had than 2 billion logged-in users playing music on its service every month, the MBW reports. TikTok announced that it was rolling out the option for its users to create videos of up to three minutes in length – up from what was previously 60 seconds.

Watson D. Hirschfield is "a London boy making people laugh" on TikTik with his short lo-fi videos of himself performing old-school music videos. The 24-year-old boasts 600,000 followers on TikTok, attracted by their simplicity and humor. "He takes quickfire shots of himself satirising popular, old school music videos, tapping into their cheesiness to bring out a whole new level of entertainment" - The Face points out.

Don't excuse your French
July 02, 2021

LilyIsThatYou and the power of TikTok

Rolling Stone explores the power of TikTok on the example of LilyIsThatYou whose song 'FMRN' the popular social media took down due to, well, simple and explicit lyric - “Can you come fuck me right now?”. A snippet of the hither chorus on TikTok drew over a million views in 24 hours, only to be removed by the editors of the social. After RS inquired about the removal of the snippet, TikTok put it back online. "This episode illustrates the power that platforms like TikTok have over artists’ trajectories in 2021. By now, TikTok’s wide reach is the stuff of music industry legend — in select instances, it is capable of delivering a song by an unknown act to legions of new listeners before lunch. But the platform can take away as quickly as it gives. And because services like TikTok are so dominant, they don’t always have to justify their actions, especially regarding smaller, independent artists".

18-year-old British composer/producer Rachel Sandy has gone viral with her parodies of indie-rock and indie-pop stars, Consequence reports. She launched her channel back in May by crafting a spot-on take on the type of Phoebe Bridgers song that the Pharbz would “eat right up” - the video racked up nearly one million views in just a few weeks. Since then, she has expertly lampooned the signature styles of Hozier (complete with *Irish forest sounds*), Mitski (“What key are we in?”), and Maggie Rogers (“More percussion please”). She garnered more than 12 million views so far for her six parodies.

Bleak to the future
May 31, 2021

Lefsetz: We’re living in the future baby

Music analyst Bob Lefsetz argues in his latest blog post that mainstream music has become laughable: "Social media is fluid. It changes every day. It’s not so much about creating a track that everybody listens to ad infinitum, but something so outrageous that people take notice, train-wreck value is the most important criterion, you want something the viewers can tweak to their own advantage, utilize to garner views for themselves".

Kiki Wongo

Metal Hammer sees four female influencers on social media who continue to prove metal is still alive. Sophie Lloyd (@sophieguitar_) is a British guitarist whose videos have amassed tens of millions of views; Kiki Wong's (@kikiwongo) cover of 'Blinded By Fear' by At The Gates has racked up a quarter of a million views on Instagram alone – four times higher than the number who actually follow At The Gates on Insta; Yasmine Summan (@yasminesumman) is Metal Hammer and NME journalist hosting On Wednesdays We Wear Black podcast raising awareness of issues facing the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ members of the rock and metal community; Cassyette (@cassyette) says she hopes she can "influence people with the genre of rock and metal to express themselves through music, fashion and make-up, and maybe help people that are struggling with their identity".

Tok FM
May 26, 2021

BTS to launch a radio

TikTok is launching TikTok Radio this summer, a full-time SiriusXM music channel, Music Business Worldwide reports. It will be available in vehicles and as a streaming channel on the SiriusXM App, desktop, and all connected devices. TikTok Radio is pitched as a radio version of TikTok’s For You page, a discovery tool for trending videos, and it will be presented by TikTok creators, tastemakers, and DJs.

The entertainment industry appears to have massively capitalised on memes - Vice points out in an interesting article about how memes are new songs, and live streams. At first, memes were created using some other content intended for something completely different, but over the last year, there’s been a more formulaic approach where tunes are either made with the focused intention of being recreated as memes on Reels and TikTok, or beats are added to popular memes. What happened was that the audiences now expect memes from the producers now, not music, as few producers attest to. "The advantage is that you have better reach, but then people always expect you to incorporate humour into your music” - Anshuman Sharma said, while Sarthak Sardana added - “after I started making memes, my Instagram interactions went up by 3x, but the kind of following I got wasn’t into music”. Rosh Blazze got 7.2 million views for his remix - “now, my audience only wants to listen to my meme remixes, and sees me more as a video editor than a music producer”.

Social media has always been less spontaneous than it appears, but from its inception, TikTok has been even more controlled than competing apps. Company executives help determine which videos go viral, which clips appear on the pages of personalized recommendations, and which trends spill out from the app to flood the rest of the world - Blomberg writes in its article about the mechanisms at work on the popular app.

“A lot of people are making music intending to break it on TikTok. Your average person on TikTok is going to have 15 seconds to make the video, right? So you want to have as much of the song in that 15 seconds as possible. I think things naturally have gotten shrunk down from there” - Jasmine Star, 17-year-old musical prodigy and a guitarist who has found a large audience through TikTok, tells Guitar World in their piece about how TikTok is changing guitar music. Star says music is - "shrinking down into two minute songs that are written hook one/hook two/hook three, back to hook one with a variation hook, to hook three. So it's all about how the guitar fits into the hooks... And I think that that will change how riffs are being written. I think that riffs are probably going to become more melodic because of how songs are being written right now”.

Tick tock for an hour and a half
April 20, 2021

TikTok users watch the app for an average 89 minutes a day

As of October 2020, TikTok was reaching 732 million monthly active users around the world, which was more than double Spotify‘s global monthly active user base as of the end of 2020 (345 million), but less than half the 2 billion-plus logged-in monthly active users YouTube pulls in around the world, MBW reports on the popular app's statistics. TikTok’s average user opens the app 19 (nineteen!) times in an average day, in an average of 89 minutes per day. Nearly half (42%) of all active users on the platform were between the age of 18 and 24, a further 17% were aged between 13 and 17, and just 7% were over the age of 45.

What makes us tick
March 19, 2021

Jason Derulo's advice on conquering TikTok

Jason Derulo was a teenage-star, but at the end of 2019, his career has stagnated for a while. Them he discovered TikTok and now he is the most followed artist on the platform, he ranks 12th overall. Variety collected his advice: “Everybody has a different audience, and you have to spend some time to get to know yours. Then, the most important thing is good lighting, and use trending songs because they capture people’s interest instantly. Also, start your videos with a close-up — you have literally one second to stop people from scrolling, so what are you going to do with that second? Quick cuts keep people’s attention, and there’s tricks like having two or three sentences on the screen, but just long enough for people to read just the first one, so they have to watch the whole video again to read the rest of it".

It's not a perfect song
February 05, 2021

Latest TikTok revival - Hoobastank get 145 million views

TikTok user ido_coke on Jan. 19 published a TikTok video using the line “I’m not a perfect person” from the song 'The Reason' by early-aughts nu-metal band Hoobastank to underscore how she’d only recently learned it was not true that “hibernation meant the animals go to sleep for literally 4-6 months”. The video has garnered 1.7 million likes, and other users have generated some 48,000 videos in which young folks shared embarrassing facts about themselves to the song line. Those videos in turn have received more than 145 million views. The Daily Beast brings the interesting story.

Never too old to get famous
January 31, 2021

110-year-old great-grandmother becomes TikTok sensation

The oldest person in Wales and quite possibly the oldest person on TikTok, the 110-year-old Amy Hawkins has become an overnight singing sensation on TikTok, The Sun reports. Her rendition of the popular World War One song 'It's A Long Way to Tipperary' was captured by her great-grandson on her milestone birthday., and since then the video has clocked up 100,000 views on TikTok. Ms. Hawkins, aged seven at the end of the war, has sung songs from that era ever since, and she was also a performer as a teenager and toured the UK - but her mother banned her from the stage, as it was not "respectable".

Yes, and Dr. Dre is really a surgeon
January 28, 2021

Funny: TikTokers mistake Mt. Zion song for "angels singing"

Prophet Efrim

A Silver Mt. Zion's song '13 Angels Standing Guard 'round the Side of Your Bed' had a strange journey on TikTok where it was believed to be a real recording of angels singing. For a few weeks late last year, the song sountracked tens of thousands of TikTok videos as users shared creepy stories and offered up historical images of what artists believe angels look like, Exclaim reports. Many users claimed that it was a recording of a cat that had been slowed down to trick others into believing it was real angels, while it was just Efrim Manuel Menuck's indie-rock band. See a compilation of "angel-sounds" below.

He has not been two weeks from shore...
January 22, 2021

Sea shanty postman gets a record deal

Scottish postman Nathan Evans has signed a record label with Polydor and quit his day job, a mere month after storming TikTok with sea shanties. His rendition of 'The Wellerman' literary exploded in just a matter of weeks, and it had also made people interested in sea shanties as well. The 26-year-old said it goes to show that if you keep going anything can happen, BBC reports.

Scottish postman Nathan Evans has become a worldwide sensation after he posted a shanty song on his TikTok, which has started a new trend. In late December he shared 'Soon May the Wellerman Come', a sea shanty song about sailors on a whale-boat, which went on to become upgraded by other singers, and has reached up millions of views by now. Sea Shanty TikTok has exploded in the meantime, and Spotify also now has a “sea shanty season” playlist. BBC, Guardian, and many others report on the story.

Production company Seaview announced the one-time-only streaming performance of 'Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical' slated for New Year's Day, BBC reports. The musical will feature Wayne Brady as Django, Tituss Burgess as Remy, Adam Lambert as Emile, Kevin Chamberlin as Gusteau, André De Shields as Ego, Andrew Barth Feldman as Linguini, Priscilla Lopez as Mabel, Ashley Park as Colette, Owen Tabaka as Young Ego, and Mary Testa as Skinner. It was collectively created by TikTok members. 'Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical', in support of the Actors Fund, will stream on Jan. 1 (at 4 PM in California, 1 AM Jan. 2 in Paris, and 5 AM in Peking) for 72 hours only.

R'n'b singer and TikTok star Zaria posted a couple of clips with a Metallica T-shirt on, which made some TikTokers attack her for rockin' Metallica merch, with one asking her to "name three Metallica songs". Well, that's when she stole the show - "Really? Only three? Only three songs? How 'bout I play 'em on guitar for you", Zaria replied and played parts of three Metallica songs on guitar, 'Master of Puppets', 'Enter Sandman' and 'One'. Loudwire really enjoyed the don't-judge-the-book-by-its-cover story.

Warner Music Group has signed a deal with TikTok that will boost its fees for song rights and increase collaboration with the popular social-media app, Bloomberg reports. In the past year alone, major music companies have signed licensing agreements with Facebook, TikTok and Snap, creating a new, billion-dollar business. Warner alone now generates hundreds of millions of dollars a year from such deals, YouTube paid the music industry more than $3 billion in 2019, Facebook paid the music industry more than $600 million a year since 2017, and TikTok now is expected to be a big spender as one of the most popular apps in the world, boasting more than 600 million users.

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