Music Business

TikTok takes on YouTube with 10 minute video test

TikTok is constantly being compared to the 6-second content of Vine, but maybe we should start comparing it to Youtube instead?

A guest post by Bob Owsinski of Music 3.0.

If you’re young, there’s no question that TikTok is by far the coolest online service. It got that way by featuring short 15 second videos featuring mostly memes set to music. Soon enough the app increased the maximum length to 60 seconds, then 3 minutes just last July. Now comes word that the service is testing even longer lengths of up to 10 minutes in what might be a strategic move to become a YouTube killer, at least when it comes to music.

The Artist’s Point Of View

One of the things that many artists have complained about is that 3 minutes just isn’t long enough for a music video, or any of the making-of or behind-the-scenes videos that also prove to be popular with fans. While many songs these days are less than 3 minutes in length, sometimes the added time before or after the music plays actually sets up or completes the storyline of the video. While many users might not care so much about that, artists and their directors sure do. That’s why the increase in time would be most welcome as they see it.

The one problem with the longer music video-type post is that TikTok actually thrives around short posts, and the music also thrives when just the hook of the song is what’s featured. For many users, that’s what drives their use of the music in the first place. As a result, a longer video time might be self-defeating if an artist isn’t aware that those short hook clips still need to be available as background music as well.

TikTok’s Strategy

While it might seem like TikTok is being generous with the proposed new lengthier video times, there’s obviously another motive in mind. For one thing, even though TikTok may be the coolest thing ever for the young, it’s not like YouTube is suffering all that much as a result of the competition. Yes, YouTube has responded with its own version of short TikTok videos called Reels, but the company’s user base (over 2.3 billion world-wide) and revenue (up a whopping 47% from the year before) are doing quite well. For TikTok, the hope may be that longer videos may put more of a dent in YouTube’s armor than before.

But it’s more than that. Longer videos provide more opportunities for ads and that’s really where it could hurt YouTube. If brands and bands start pulling ad budgets from YouTube and using them on TikTok instead because of a growing audience that might be more in their demographic sweet spot, that could justify the added storage expense housing the longer videos. It would indeed start to become a YouTube killer, if that’s even possible.

Of course, sometimes strategies do backfire, and if users begin to see less of a difference between the two services, they may opt for the one with the larger audience and longer track record.

It’s important to remember that the increased video length is still being tested. It may roll out as is, or in some modified form, or disappear into the darkness.

Bobby Owsinski is a producer/engineer, author and coach. He has authored 24 books on recording, music, the music business and social media.

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