The growth of TikTok in Australia is historic, and with its huge commercial value, many content creators on TikTok have become more “value-driven” instead of “arts-driven”, resulting in an issue which is the loss of creditability of TikTok only musicians.
The man in the video above is called Xuanting Lau, a musician based in Melbourne, who started posting his raps on TikTok back in 2018. When he was still posting on TikTok, he didn’t even know how to sing along with the beat, and now Xuanting Lau’s TikTok account has 115,000 followers.
In this era of digital media, video is gradually becoming the new content carrier to be accommodated by mainstream society. It is also replacing paper media and audio content. The video medium allows multiple content to be blended and visualized and delivered to users quickly. So users can absorb the content in a very efficient way in a short period, and it is easy to form a memory.
The huge potential commercial value of TikTok
TikTok, as an iteration of short video content, can compress video content to an average of 60 seconds to two minutes in length. Unlike ordinary video content, TikTok short videos allow users to access information more quickly, and brands that use short videos for marketing can also get more views and higher conversions. Therefore, more and more brands will use TikTok for video marketing, which also makes TikTok the platform and the platform within the influencer more and more commercial value. In Australia, 73% of internet users have ever said they use TikTok daily, a large number for a content platform app.
This trend is very tempting and potentially profitable for brands in the Australian market. It is also attractive for influencers who post content on TikTok. Slowly, as this trend took shape, these influencers got a new name: KOL (Key Opinion Leader). It means “the person who provides core advice to consumers”. Such “KOL marketing” is similar to word-of-mouth marketing, where products and brands can gain more users’ trust through KOL’s recommendation on social media, thus achieving huge conversion and revenue. It further led to great advertising revenue for TikTok and beat Facebook in the Australian market.
However, this led to a new problem, in such a fast-moving market environment and the temptation of huge monetary benefits in Australia, people began to become impatient and desperate to get the most profit in the shortest possible time. So, many people flocked to TikTok and tried to make influencers, but in fact, the content they posted on TikTok was not good.
Lack of credibility for TikTok-only musicians
The same situation remains in the music section of TikTok Australia. “People are trying to get more attention, and even though most people don’t even know how to make music, there are still a lot of people who buy a backing track on the internet and sing along with it in their bad voices and make a huge profit.” Said Olli Roland, who is a proper musician who has more than 20 albums.
Olli believes that these musicians who only publish their works on TikTok do not have credibility, because he believes that these musicians publish their works for the purpose of getting traffic and money, not for the love of art and music. In addition, he believes that the quality of these people’s music itself is also very poor.
“Yes, it’s true that I have no professional musical training while I was a TikTok rapper, but I do love music, and besides, my music is heard by many people on TikTok and they like my music, and I think that’s enough. Speaking of my music being unprofessional, I was accepted to Berklee College of Music in 2020, and I believe that has a lot to do with the fact that I continue to create music.” Xuanting Lau argued.
Xuanting Lau has gradually gone from being a musician who only posted music on TikTok to now having over 80 hits. He has also appeared on a few Chinese music shows, so he has successfully “transitioned” into a mainstream musician.
“I admit that Ollie is partly right, and as a musician, I do find that a lot of people make music for the commercial value of TikTok. But making money and loving music can by nature exist at the same time. I understand that this is a controversial topic, but whether we are real musicians or not should not only be judged solely by the platform we post music on.”
Are TikTok only musicians real musicians?
So how do we determine the credibility of these “musicians” in the Australian music industry if we don’t comment and talk about their credibility in terms of the platforms and purposes for which they release their music? The answer is “contribution to the industry”.
2021 was the best year for TikTok music in Australia, in addition to the growth of TikTok music in the Australian market. There are many Australian musicians posting their quality works on TikTok. With the help of the TikTok platform, they are realizing their musical aspirations, reaching a wider and more diverse audience, and contributing to the Australian and even global music industry.
Most followed Australian artists on TikTok
Jiayi Tian, a Ph.D. student at Oxford University majoring in the sociology of art, claimed that the concept of the artist is constructed from several perspectives, which are social perspective, media coverage, and the artist’s self-perception. Even if they lower the quality of their music in order to make a profit, they still have an impact on the Australian music market, or they are socially recognized by organizations and listeners, or they identify themselves as musicians from their own perspective. Even if they seek profit, they can still be considered as “real-musicians”.
Artists or value seekers?
The Australian music market is a huge market with a bright future, so with TikTok as a commercial platform with huge power, it naturally attracts a great number of people to post music for profit, which can further lead to the overall music market being impacted by the low quality of some of the music. But not all of them who post their works on TikTok lost their credibility. Under this controversial circumstance, there are tremendous musicians who are exporting their great works for this market and are recognized by this market.
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