With over 2 billion downloads and growing, TikTok has become quite the phenomenon within the social media world. The platform is gaining popularity at incredible speeds with the ability to cater to virtually any audience. Some apps, like Byte, have attempted to replicate this, but have failed to recreate the loyal following that lives on TikTok. Though, this isn’t to say that companies are done trying. Instagram has begun testing its own combatant called “Reels” in Brazil, a country that hasn’t yet joined the TikTok craze. Being the social media giant it is, maybe Instagram could be the one to take down the remix-based video app. But personally, I think the real competitor will be Youtube’s newest project called “Shorts”.
You may be wondering, what gives Youtube Shorts any better of a chance than Instagram Reels? Well, aside from the 2 billion monthly active users, Youtube has something that Tiktok doesn’t have. Music Licensing Agreements. If you are unfamiliar with the app, the bulk of TikTok revolves around music. Regardless of the genre, you will find that creators will typically shape the concept of their videos around a snippet of a song. When selecting what Tiktok calls “sounds” for their idea, users aren’t really limited in selection. In fact, they can essentially upload whatever they want, copyrighted or not. For example, as I’m writing this, there are 20.3 million videos that currently use the song “Say So” by American popstar, Doja Cat. This translates into far more than a billion video views based on the two hashtags you see below, and that doesn’t even include the videos that don’t use a hashtag at all. Out of pure curiosity, I did some math to see how much time the world has been spent playing this song on TikTok. Here’s what I’ve found.
If we were to base it only off #sayso we would find that the watch time for TikToks using this song would be equivalent to more than 418 years! That’s an absurdly large amount of online real estate Doja Cat has made for herself. I’m sure she is more than happy. The only problem is, well, not everyone is happy with their songs being used on the platform. In fact, some are so unhappy, they have threatened to sue TikTok if they don’t work out some sort of negotiation.
Currently, musicians aren’t getting paid any sort of royalties for when their work is streamed on TikTok, and music publishing companies like Universal are extremely frustrated. Lucky for Youtube, they already have licensing agreements with a large portion of music publishers. Now this isn’t to say that TikTok won’t be able to get music license agreements. They have actually agreed to negotiate deals with Sony, Warner, and Universal, but nothing has been made official.
So why does any of this matter? Who cares if Youtube creates a TikTok clone? Personally, I find the introduction of Shorts to be most useful to advertisers. Advertising on TikTok is still pretty limited. It’s still in its early stages, and you may currently find it difficult to refine your target audience to your liking. On the contrary, Youtube is owned by Google, and well, let’s just say they have more than enough years of development when it comes to advertising. If Youtube Shorts becomes a successful competitor to TikTok, it may be a good place to start advertising.
Youtube plans to release Shorts by the end of the year so it will definitely be something to keep an eye out for.