Music Marketing

Pew Research study reveals TikTok isn’t as popular as people think

Common wisdom is that the video-sharing site TikTok is Gen Z’s social platform of choice and that every other generation is falling in line. A new study by Pew Research found that those assumptions are just that – assumptions, and they’re wrong.

by Bobby Owsinski from Music 3.0

According to the Pew study, more Americans ages 18 to 29 (Gen Z) said they’d used YouTube (93%), Instagram (78%), and Facebook (67%) than TikTok (62%) in 2023. It’s not surprising that people outside of Gen Z used the app even less, with only 39% of 30 to 49 year olds and 24% of 50 to 64 years olds stating that they used the site last year.

In fact, world-wide TikTok comes in 6th in most visits behind YouTube, Facebook, X, Instagram and Redditaccording to YouTube continues to be the 1,000 pound gorilla with more than 1.35 trillion visits, dwarfing #2 Facebook at 2.16 billion.

World-wide there are more male TikTok users than female users at 69% and 31%, respectively. In the U.S., that number is flipped, with more female than male users. TikTok is also extremely mobile-centric with 78.35% of its access from mobile devices. 

All Is Not Rosy

TikTok has grown by a factor of 60 times since 2019, but as impressive as that might be, the platform also has a lot going against it.

It’s parent company Bytedance had losses of over $7 billion last year, which means that it’s being propped up by the Chinese government, which is the next problem. There are many claims that TikTok is nothing more than a Chinese spy tool, which may bring legislation against its use not only in the United States, but world-wide (it’s already banned in India).

There are also many claims that the content is harmful to youngsters, which in itself might bring legislative action.

Finally, the recent boycott of its music by Universal Music has definitely had an effect on the platform, as millions of videos suddenly went without audio (not good for a dance video). Universal claims that the royalties paid by TikTok to its artists is minuscule, and even less than what YouTube pays, if you can imagine that.

For the music industry, the biggest concentration of TikTok users is the generation that consumes music the most. That said, the boycott appears to be affecting TikTok a lot more than Universal’s artists, at least at the moment.

All this means that although the perception of TikTok is that it’s an invincible force, there are many cracks in the armor that could potentially bring it down. And it’s not as popular as you think.

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

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