This summer, young Europeans were forced to give up Musical.ly, a hugely popular karaoke app, to switch to TikTok. Pixels takes stock of the phenomenon. Ultra-popular with Western teens, the Musical.ly video app disappeared from smartphones permanently on August 2. After updating, its users saw another button appear on their screen instead, that of TikTok. Rather unknown in Europe where it was not available until then, this Chinese application claimed some 150 million daily active users in Asia. It is now making its mark in the smartphones of French teenagers who like to sing, take selfies and, sometimes, do both at the same time.
TikTok. His name is Douyin in China, his country of origin. It is an application for smartphones, born in September 2016, and published by the Chinese giant ByteDance which has become known with the very popular platform of personalized news content Toutiao. TikTok is dedicated to creating and sharing short music videos. The users film themselves in front of the camera, playing back or choreographing. Many competing applications exist in the fields of karaoke, “lip sync” or “play-back” such as Triller, Dubsmash, Funimate.
Among the most popular internationally, there was Musical.ly, born in Shanghai in spring 2014. At the end of 2017, thirteen million videos were posted there every day. It has now disappeared after its takeover by ByteDance in November 2017, for an amount between 800 million and one billion dollars (between 690 and 860 million euros). After this operation, the firm decided to merge the two applications. The transition took place during the summer: Musical.ly was absorbed by TikTok.
Okay. But what do we do on TikTok?
Once an account is created, the user can choose a song from a large catalog that ranges from La Bonne du Curé by Annie Cordy to HandClap by Fitz and the Tantrums. He can then film himself over the camera, pretending to sing, or mimic the lyrics. Videos that last fifteen seconds can then have a specific speed applied to slow or speed up the movement, as well as filters and visual effects. Once shared, the clips scroll on the home page of the app and are listed in the creator’s profile like an Instagram account. Users thus collect “likes” and subscribers.
And is it fun?
For laymen or spectators (let’s say it: adults), TikTok looks like an endless succession of videos of teenagers singing to popular hits. We let you make your opinion on the subject. For users, TikTok, like its predecessor Musical.ly, is an endless playground. The majority of TikTok addicts is full of creativity and takes advantage of the many effects offered by the application to establish themselves among the best videographers.
As on the deceased Musical.ly, there are daily challenges on TikTok which invite, on the same music, to stand out on a theme. The keyword #girlsturnintoboys collects, for example, videos of girls changing into boys. Depending on the country and the culture, the application can be used very differently. “European users, they, love comedy, fashion and beauty,” says the World a spokesman TikTok. Chinese netizens rather like to offer sketches and fake hidden cameras there. Last May, TikTok became famous for having censored in China the character of Peppa Pig , from a cartoon and become a subversive icon.
Is there any moderation?
In the past, the Musical.ly platform had been criticized for passing comments denigrating the services on the profile of users, but also videos where the authors – often young – sexualize themselves. In May 2018, Hong Kong media was also alarmed that the private data of minors was vulnerable. TikTok spokesperson defends himself today: “Our priority is to promote a positive environment and we have implemented moderation technology based on an algorithm and a robust human team.
How many are there on TikTok?
Before asserting itself in Europe, TikTok was very popular in Asian countries, especially China and Japan. In the first quarter of 2018, TikTok was the most downloaded application in the world, according to the study by analysis firm Sensor Tower . In June 2018, it claimed 500 million monthly active users.
For its part, Musical.ly reached 100 million monthly active users in 2017. The application had conquered European and American teenagers. The number of subscribers in France was estimated at 2.5 million. Asked by Le Monde , the company Byte Dance has refused to give the figures of its users since the merger of the two applications in August.