24. August 2020, Editorial

Even if TikTok wasn't a platform in its own right, it would still be hugely influential. Its Instagram account alone has racked up more than 26 million followers. As impressive as that sounds, it pales in comparison with the 800-plus users that the app has. And numbers are increasing all the time, even as TikTok’s data protection credentials come under fire.


just a hype?
music video
nur ein hype?

What sets this particular app apart is the incredibly appealing and intuitive way that it lets users create video content. Rather than originating from a social media network, TikTok was created by a Chinese firm specialising in artificial intelligence. This could support the theory that ultimately it is people that make (and break) brands and trends.

During the Covid19 pandemic TikTok emerged as a top source of entertainment and “something to do” during quarantine.

Over 40% of TikTokers are between 16 and 24 years of age, giving it one of the youngest online user demographics out there.  And it’s found a way to make self-expression the coolest of currencies. TikTok has shot to prominence primarily through viral marketing and influence marketing. On top of that, internet challenges and clips are catching people’s attention through their hashtags, and some of them have broken out as memes that are a familiar sight to users beyond TikTok. This is particularly the case for fashion, beauty and music, with the app now also starting to determine who lands in the charts.

If songs start to go viral, users inevitably also start listening to them outside the video app. The best example of this is Old Town Road by rapper Lil Nas X, a song which has gone down in history as the first TikTok hit, defending its place at the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart  for 19 weeks and setting a new record in the process. It also topped the Austrian charts. The rapper and singer Doja Cat thanked teenager Haley Sharpe, who came up with the viral TikT ok dance for her song Say So, hiring her on the spot for the music video.


The controversial video app’s influence on the music industry is growing all the time and even helping to define how pop songs are written and produced. Because they are so short, the videos need a special dramaturgy. Just last week, The Weeknd (Blinding Lights) staged an exclusive augmented reality concert on TikTok, jumping on the bandwagon that has taken the industry by storm in recent months with an immersive  new “music experience” .

The show was also used for political purposes as it also ran an appeal for donations to the Equal Justice Initiative. Fans were able to give money using the app before the show started, with TikTok doubling the total. The proceeds generated by the exclusive merch used to promote the concert were also given to good causes.

In fact, this was not the first time that TikTok and The Weeknd crossed paths: the artist already had a number of hits driven by the app to his credit, chief among them Blinding Lights which is one of the biggest selling singles of 2020 so far. The song has been shown in more than 1.5 million TikToks thanks in no small measure to a dance challenge, and topped the Rolling Stone Top 100 Songs charts. Selling 1.3 million copies in the USA in the first six months of the year, The Weeknd’s After Hours was the best selling album of the opening half of 2020.

If a song is popular on the platform and featured a lot, the streaming totals go up on other platforms such as Spotify – which even has a playlist dedicated to the biggest viral TikTok hits. Canadian  rapper Drake was quick to identify the app’s potential and released his song Toosie Slide which has a distinctly TikTok vibe to it. And the chorus is practically a set of dance instructions:

“Got a dance, but it’s really on some street sh*t
I’ma show you how to get it
It go, right foot up, left foot slide
Left foot up, right foot slide”


The song made number two in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, just behind the Weeknd.

Although it still takes a little effort to find active TikTokers on the music scene in Austria – Caesar Sampson and Mavi Phoenix are taking their tentative first steps on the app – it looks like there’s no end to the hype in sight. TikTok is here to stay.

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