Could TikTok be the new music platform?

I’ve been wondering this for a while to be honest. Sure, TikTok is great for authentic content, bedroom rants, poor angles, un-curated creativity etc. But when will come the time that we crave more from the platform? I know I’m already craving more glamour, curation and stylisation. 

As a music artist, I purposely just filmed and directed my latest music video in a way that was as TikTokable as possible. I describe it more as a ‘Tumblr moodboard come to life’ rather than a music video. Launching in mid November, 70% of the video doesn’t consist of me even singing, most of it is just ethereal, aesthetic, emotional vibes where I sport custom designs running through the fields of Hampstead Heath (my artist name is Rosa Cecilia if you’re curious). 

Anyway, enough of the shameless promotion. The reason I made this stylistic choice is because I wanted to create content that was able to be easily recycled on a variety of platforms. Sure, I want the whole thing on YouTube but who has the patience to watch a full 3 and a half minute music video anymore? I wanted to create a video where the whole thing was great, sure, but one that also allowed me to take any 5 or 15 second and use it on TikTok as a form of promo or simply art in itself. Minimising the need for lip syncing enhances the ability for the content to be used with a variety of captions and even sounds (although naturally I’d prefer if my song was used). 

Another reason TikTok may be a preferred medium for music videos is its ability for product placement. Subtle or not, product placements in music videos are nothing new. But as TikTok continues to be a launching pad for new artists, placement opportunities are arising for both musicians and brands on the platform.

According to Jake Terrell, VP of music and brand partnerships at BEN agency, “when any brand that we’re speaking with, prospective or current client, has a Gen Z or millennial strategy (and most do)…music is a no-brainer. […] Music-video placements can be great brand opportunities given that 85% of YouTube music video views are watched instead of played in the background on TV and mobile, according to Google. I think for a long time, until some of that data was released, there was some scepticism around how many people are just setting it and forgetting it” he said, referencing people using YouTube as a free music-streaming service.

But even with high engagement rates, Cassie Petrey, co-CEO and co-founder of music marketing and management firm Crowd Surf, which, among other things, works with artists like Camila Cabello and Backstreet Boys to help them get brand partnerships, told us that brand demand is moving away from music videos.

“It used to be really easy to do music-video integrations and I would say that’s a much more challenging task now,” she said, adding that payment amounts are “generally pretty low for music-video placements…even for pretty big stars.”

The reason? According to Petrey, “People are leaning more into the new MTV, which is TikTok.”

According to Terrell, TikTok has “blurred the line between what is a breakout artist [and] what is a meaningful artist to a brand” and “opened some eyes up” in terms of what kinds of musicians they want to work with. He said BEN has received briefs asking them to identify artists on TikTok, some of whom are not necessarily signed to a record label. For instance, he said BEN recently shared singer’s Emmy Melí’s song “I AM WOMAN” with clients before she was signed.

Oftentimes, he said, partnerships with emerging artists “tend to be more cost-effective, and you sometimes have a better chance of over-delivery on what the brand is expecting because that artist is that enthused about the opportunity.”

Their followers are often enthused, too, according to Petrey: “A decade ago, I think some people would be like, ‘That person’s rich, could they not afford to do that video without that brand integration?’” Whereas today, she said, Gen Z is more accepting.

“I see a lot of people comment like, ‘Yeah, you go girl. Get that bag,’” she said. “I think it’s almost like a rite of passage. It’s like, ‘Wow, if you’re getting brand deals, you’re famous on TikTok.’”

And for those who do get famous on the platform, like Lil Nas X, or just simply go viral, Terrell said brands can find that partnering with artists early on can pay off: “Even if it’s just 15 minutes of fame, it could be one heck of a 15 minutes.”

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