When you open TikTok, its weird hits you like a train. There is no preamble, no consistent landing page: Your whole phone screen is now teenage cheerleaders bouncing, then a cat attacking a hand to the beat of the Black Eyed Peas’ “Pump It,” then two people lip-syncing to Bebe Rexha’s “I’m a Mess” in the desert, in a clip that also seems to be a Guess denim commercial.
TikTok, a short-form-video social media app that has been downloaded about 800 million times worldwide, defies easy categorization. It limits clips to 15 seconds, reminiscent of Vine, but includes AR filters and a suite of editing tools much beloved by teens, like Snapchat. But those platforms are either dead or (arguably) dying, while powerhouses like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook are all eschewing short form and pivoting to easier-to-monetize long-form video. By going quick in a time of long, TikTok, it would seem, is doomed to be social media’s next Icarus.
Or not. Unlike long-form YouTube, where the cultural change is driven by a platform attempting to meet its financial goals, TikTok has found a business model for something people were already doing on their own: creating lip-sync videos, dance challenges, and other music-driven memes. Before TikTok and its predecessor, Musical.ly, came on the scene, all of those things were technically illegal—unless you can make a fair-use argument, posting a clip with unlicensed music is a copyright infringement. But TikTok found a way to make allowing regular users to legally play
Read more here: https://www.wired.com/story/tiktok-musical-meme-machine-vine