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Hit or Miss: Why Music Marketers Need to Take on TikTok

The exponential rate in which TikTok has grown makes it clear that is something that definitely needs to acknowledged. The app is reported to have exceed 800million lifetime installs, and exceeded Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube in terms of downloads in October 2018.

TikTok allows users to upload short-form videos ranging from 2 seconds to 2 minutes in length, similar to the now deceased Vine, but the extra kicker is that users can add sound overlays from TikTok’s vast sound library. Moreso, the highly musical nature of TikTok as an app, with the majority of its content being music based, would suggest that those in the music industry need to stand to attention. Pitchfork recently published an article describing how TikTok is ‘scamming’ artists, particularly in reference to the ‘Hit or Miss’ meme featuring iLOVEFRiDAY’s song 'Mia Khalifa.' The case was that the song had gone viral on the platform, but not within the control of the rap group’s label or management- meaning that ultimately they didn’t see the royalities they should have.

There’s a lot to be learned from the case of ‘Mia Khalifa,’ and it’s not one of fraud and thievery. As described in the Pitchfork article, the track by the up and coming rap group was uploaded to TikTok not by the artists, their management or their label- but by a fan. Of course from the music business perspective, this is a bit of a disaster in terms of copyright breaches, and royalty issues, but of course from the perspective of the fan, all they wanted was to be able to create videos on TikTok using the track. The fan took it into her own hands because not the artists, management, labels or publishers had the initiative to do so.

The moral of this is that those in the music marketing world need to be keen trendspotters, and jump on anything that looks like it might be worth it. Brands need to take TikTok head on, rather than treating it as a distant and unfathomable platform.

It wasn’t the case that TikTok was a relatively unknown platform at the point where Hit or Miss went viral, it was already huge. It’s unfortunate that iLOVEFRiDAY haven’t seen the full financial benefits of their viral hit directly from TikTok, but it’s definitely worth noting that the track’s notoriety on the platform generated unfathomable amounts of buzz and engagement- completely organically. However, because of iLOVEFRiDAY's failure of ownership, the first thing many people now think of when they hear 'Mia Khalifa' is a TikTok cosplayer 'Nyannyancosplay', rather than iLOVEFRiDAY themselves.

Ultimately, it’s pretty apparent that TikTok is an extremely powerful tool for music marketing, with a huge potential for organic traction. Music marketers need to pay attention, brush up on their knowledge and dive into the app- before their fans do it for them.

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Sascha Morgan Evans

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