TikTok is reaching maturity as it fast approaches 1 billion users and begins to look to monetise its audience.

With this maturity, like all platforms before it – TikTok is changing its algorithm and is terrifying all the artists and creators who have built their careers on the platform over the last few years.

The TikTok algorithm is now doing what all the social media platforms that came before it have done. It is prioritising “trusted” or “traditional content” (i.e. TV networks, established comedians and creators, traditional celebrities etc.) over the TikTok stars which first adopted the platform and made it a success.

Why?

One word: Money.

This isn’t a criticism. When a platform hits a critical mass of users like TikTok has, the company turns its focus to monetisation (as it should), and what these platforms quickly discover is that brands are terrified of UGC (user generated content). Premium brands don’t want to be associated with low quality content, and mass consumer brands are terrified of having their ads run alongside far left or far right political content that is likely to go viral.

So the playbook is simple. Platforms will aggressively court traditional broadcasters and celebrities on the platform, as well as start funding their own original content in order to show brands they are a premium highly curated platform that is worthy of advertising dollars.

Never miss industry news

Get the latest music industry news, insights, and updates straight to your inbox. Learn more

This means, that with the new TikTok algorithm, you’re more likely to see content from these traditional celebrities, than an up-and-coming creator trying to carve out a niche online.

This is bad news for the artists and creators who have exploded on TikTok, made a career for themselves and now are feeling like the rug is being pulled out from under them with their posts receiving less and less reach each month.

Why is this a surprise to anyone though? This has happened time and time again with every new platform and each time the industry keeps acting surprised and offended when it occurs.

  • Myspace came and went
  • Facebook built massive fanbases for artists only to start charging them to talk to them
  • Vine rose and died
  • Instagram’s algorithm requires a whole other op-ed but is not what it was

However when TikTok launched, the music industry fell for the same trick again. Investing mountains of money, time and energy into building or signing TikTok creators – only to have the goal posts moved on them.

As an industry, we keep making the same mistakes.

Where is the TikTok algorithm going? What is the best strategy moving forward?

Andrew Stone and I discuss and answer these questions on the latest episode of How the music business works which you listen to on the Callin App. Both Andrew and I manage creators and artists who thrive on TikTok, between both of our rosters we have approximately 6mil followers – Andrew with recording artists, and myself with a roster of comedians.

Download the Callin App and Listen here.