Video sharing app TikTok is helping relatively unknown musicians become superstars. In particular, the app has helped bring artists’ music to China and other parts of Asia. Bloomberg Businessweek spoke to some of those who benefited.
TikTok and Douyin, both owned by the Chinese startup Bytedance Ltd., are propelling songs from obscurity to ubiquity overnight, rewriting the path to stardom for some acts. While Fitz and the Tantrums had already experienced success at home, the burst of fame on TikTok persuaded the band to focus on Asia as it rolls out its new album. The list of acts that owe sudden success to TikTok grows by the day. Lil Nas X just scored a No. 1 song on the Billboard charts—and a record deal—after his song Old Town Road went viral.
This week, TikTok got banned in India. Apple removed it from the iOS App Store in the country. However, the video-sharing app remains hugely popular with a young audience worldwide. Bloomberg Businessweek looked at why.
TikTok decides what videos to show by tapping into data, starting with your location. Then, as you start watching, it analyzes the faces, voices, music, or objects in videos you watch the longest. Liking, sharing, or commenting improves TikTok’s algorithm further. Within a day, the app can get to know you so well it feels like it’s reading your mind. That’s why Jade, the Oklahoma teen, mostly sees videos of people dancing, while her mom regularly gets clips of dog tricks.
TikTok is being fined US$5.7 million over allegations that it “illegally collected images, voice recordings, and geolocation of children, some younger than 13.”
The amount, part of an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday, is the largest civil penalty ever issued by the agency in a child privacy case. FTC commissioners Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter also filed a separate statement calling for TikTok executives to be held accountable in any future cases. “In our view, these practices reflected the company’s willingness to pursue growth even at the expense of endangering children,” the statement read.