Nobody is quite sure when or why it happened. But as of the past few weeks, the Mountain Goats became TikTok’s new favorite indie band.
This is weird not because young people are discovering music that predates their existence. That happens all the time, especially on TikTok, where at any point there is guaranteed to be at least five trending ABBA songs. And it’s not weird because the song that made the Mountain Goats go viral is “No Children,” an incredibly dark divorce anthem between two fictional lovers. Weird and dark stuff gets big all the time on the platform; last year a six-hour experimental album about dementia became a viral TikTok challenge.
No, it’s weird that the Mountain Goats are TikTok famous because the Mountain Goats are perhaps the least likely candidates for “viral TikTok sensation” on the planet. The band, which formed 30 years ago (and, for long swaths, consisted of just one member) and originally recorded their music on DIY-style boomboxes, has released an astounding 20 albums. These albums seem relatively unconcerned with breakout singles or hits and more interested in shaping larger complex narratives about topics from Dungeons & Dragons to professional wrestling to child abuse.
Which is to say, it can be a bit daunting for would-be fans to tackle the band’s discography; there is simply so much of it, and so much subtext to sift through. The Mountain Goats getting TikTok famous sort of feels like if Ulysses suddenly became the bestselling book on Amazon.
Videos set to “No Children” first started getting tens of thousands of views in January and February and again over the summer. In early October, it went nuclear, possibly (from what I can tell) catalyzed by an 18-year-old who posted his reaction to the lyrics: “this song is way too depressing. It sounds like a middle aged man crying over a girl he met in high school. Like get over it dude.” (This is an objectively hilarious response to a widely beloved indie folk song.) “No Children” has since inspired its own dance trend, in which people use comically literal recreations to the lyrics, “I am drowning / There is no sign of land / You are coming down with me / Hand in unlovable hand / And I hope you die.” There are self-deprecating jokes about being a depressed child listening to “No Children” before fully comprehending the words; there are people coming to terms with their relationships with their fathers. Even Jack Antonoff made a TikTok about it.
Largely, though, the videos I’m seeing are a sort of meta-reaction to the trend, made by longtime Mountain Goats fans who are talking about what it’s like to see a song and a band that was so deeply important to them get sucked into the infinite churn of trending content. “As a 2010-era hipster in recovery from an insufferable superiority complex, I am constantly forced to reckon with unlearning the impulse to gatekeep everything I love from everyone,” begins one TikTok. “And in an effort to combat that, because it’s the worst thing about me, here’s a crash course on the Mountain Goats.” There are others like this too, offering helpful guides on how to get started climbing the proverbial, erm, mountain.
When I asked fans on Twitter what they thought, people tended to reply that they were extremely happy that the band has found a new, young audience. “At first, I felt silly that my first thought was, ‘Wait they’re mine!’ But it’s kind of exciting to have everyone discover something you hold dear, even if it’s for a weird reason,” one woman wrote. Some were concerned that the nuance of the song, and the band’s lyrics in general, could get flattened by the context collapse of a 15-second clip in a TikTok video. “All of their lyrics are excellent and they cover so many themes and images with a completely groundbreaking form, and frankly, trying to compress their work in a 15-second video is quite reductionist,” said another.
“I am a little worried that the specific portion of that song could create some misreadings and weird romanticization of ‘bad’ relationships,” one woman added. “The song really only makes sense in the context of the rest of [the album] Tallahassee, so if you hear just a snippet you might walk away with the sense that this is cool hip angst rather than a story of a really, really bad time in a couple’s relationship.” Some were nonplussed: “Maybe a couple of zoomers will really get into it and their music taste will improve. Sick. But my guess is that it’s just as ephemeral as any other social media meme. How’s that Fleetwood Mac revival going, again?”
No one is more surprised than the man behind it all, chief Mountain Goat John Darnielle, who found out about “No Children”’s skyrocketing popularity only after people started tweeting at him, and who graciously agreed to sit for a phone interview about an app he doesn’t use. “Obviously, when something like this happens you think a little bit and you laugh,” he says of how it felt when he saw how Spotify streams of “No Children” were closing in on the band’s biggest single, “This Year” (they’ve now surpassed it).
I wondered whether he’d been prepared for the likelihood that one of his songs would get big on TikTok, as so much of the music industry is now determined by its algorithm. “I kind of have some fairly old-fashioned dad-like values about what an artist ought to be thinking about,” he said. “If I’m sitting here thinking about my own virality too much, then I’m going to wind up stewing in an ocean of self-contempt.”
He also acknowledged the implicit pressure that artists must then capitalize on their virality. “I think many artists in our shoes would have said, ‘Maybe it’s time for us to start making our own TikToks.’ And I would say, ‘No, I’m not going to be the 54-year-old sidling up to the cool party with you kids. I’m not going to do the Steve Buscemi-with-the-skateboard thing.” The idea that an artist can completely sit out a meme cycle is increasingly novel (consider Taylor Swift immediately releasing her re-recorded version of “Wildest Dreams” as soon as it became a TikTok trend, or Fleetwood Mac joining TikTok in response to the viral video set to “Dreams”).
“Both the culture industry and the music industry have a lot invested in the idea that the music of today is for the youth, and youth will buy it and give us money for it,” Darnielle said. “But if the youth land on a Steve Miller Band song, they go, ‘This is a good song. I like this one.’ If they find songs in the public domain, I think the industry has a great fear of that.”
As the internet has allowed folks of all ages, but especially tech-literate young people, to rediscover cultural artifacts from the past, fans of the band told me they’ve noticed an increase in the number of teens and 20-somethings at their shows. “It’s really cool to have it affirmed that music is a gigantic conversation between all generations,” Darnielle says. “I am a father of two. There is a certain joy in sort of feeling like, well, the kids have got a thing going on that I’m not going to fully get. But I can just enjoy watching. I think people fear getting older and fear that they’ll feel left out, but there’s a kind of buoyancy in that left-out quality sometimes, if you ride it the right way.”
In recent performances, Darnielle has addressed the elephant in the room before playing “No Children.” “He said something to the effect of, ‘And now for the uncomfortable tension of whether the old man knows about the TikTok thing’ while winding up with the intro, then made a few jokes about how no one needs a 54-year-old on TikTok claiming they have something to say,” a concertgoer in Boston told me. The irony is, of course, that it’s precisely that kind of self-awareness and humility that TikTok could use more of.
The way Darnielle sees it, going viral doesn’t diminish the value of the song, it only spreads its influence. “Everybody who’s been enjoying the song should know how grateful it makes us feel that our stuff is entertaining somebody,” he says. “For any entertainer, that’s the highest prize. You cannot ask for anything more, right?”
This column was first published in The Goods newsletter. Sign up here so you don’t miss the next one, plus get newsletter exclusives.
TikTok Expands Creator Tipping and Video Gifts, Providing More Monetization and Marketing Options
TikTok continues to expand its creator monetization tools with the addition of video tipping and virtual gifts for regular uploads, in addition to live-streams in the app.
To be clear, live tipping and digital gifts have been available for selected live-stream creators via its Creator Next program since last year. This new expansion brings the same functionality to regular TikTok videos, which will add another way for users to generate direct income from their TikTok videos.
As you can see in these screenshots, shared by social media expert Matt Navarra (via Dan Schenker), to be eligible for the new Creator Next program, users will need to have at least 1,000 followers, and will need to have generated more than 1,000 video views in the previous 30 days.
Though TikTok does note that these requirements vary by region – TechCrunch has reported that creators need to have at least 100k followers to qualify in some cases.
As explained by TikTok:
“The new Tips feature allows people to directly show gratitude to creators for their content, much like recognizing exceptional service or giving a standing ovation. As is standard for tipping in person, with Tips creators will receive 100% of the tip value.”
Tip payments will be processed by Stripe, with creators required to sign up to manage their earnings in the app.
“With Video Gifts, also available today, creators can now collect Diamonds not only by going LIVE but also by posting videos. This also gives people an all-new way to interact and engage with content they love.”
That will provide expanded capacity to generate real money from posting, without having to go live, which will open new doors to many TikTok creators.
In addition to this, TikTok’s also lowering the threshold for those who can list their profiles in its Creator Marketplace brand collaboration platform, which enables businesses to find TikTok influencers to partner with on in-app campaigns.
Up till now, creators have required 100k followers to qualify for these listings, but now, TikTok is reducing that number to 10k, which will further expand available opportunities for both users and brands.
That could make it much easier to find relevant creators to partner with, in a lot more niches, which will add more considerations into your TikTok posting and engagement process.
As noted, these are the latest in TikTok’s broader efforts to provide comparable monetization opportunities, in order to keep its top stars posting to the platform, as opposed to drifting off to YouTube or Instagram instead, which have more established monetization systems.
The advantage that other apps have in this respect is that longer videos can include pre-roll and mid-roll ads, facilitating direct monetization, which TikTok can’t utilize given the shorter nature of its clips. As such, it needs to look to alternate funding methods, which will also include eCommerce listings, with direct product displays now the primary source of income for the Chinese version of the app.
The platform’s continued growth facilitates even more opportunities in this respect, with more brands looking to tap into the various opportunities of the platform, and partner with creators to maximize their presence.
How popular, and valuable, direct tipping and gifting can be is more variable, as some dedicated fan bases will pay, while others will see no reason to donate for what they can already access for free.
But even so, it adds more opportunity, and the lower thresholds for monetization will see many more opportunities across the board in the app.
Shorter Videos Are In Demand. Here’s How Different Social Media Platforms Are Reacting.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
With TikTok and Instagram Reels slowly conquering social media marketing, there’s no mistake: Short videos are in demand.
The average length for most, if not all, business videos is only six minutes long. And that number is set to decrease as consumers look for shorter videos.
With that in mind, why are short videos in demand? What platforms are implementing short-form videos the best? And most importantly, how can they benefit your business?
TikTok – Changing consumerism, one video at a time
Where shorter videos are concerned, TikTok has always led the industry. What started as a merger with Musical.ly quickly became one of the world’s most powerful social media platforms. And what made it so famous? The same concept that made Vine viral short videos.
TikTok has over 1 billion active users, twice as many as Snapchat and Pinterest. For reference, Twitter only has 397 million users. With such a massive user-base, the only thing keeping the platform alive are the 15-second-long videos.
But why are short videos so popular? Simple – people don’t have time on their hands. When they open apps like TikTok and Instagram, they’re more likely to spend time watching shorter videos. And businesses are already catching up.
The impact of Instagram Reels
With the invention of Stories by Snapchat, other platforms like Instagram caught up on short videos. Instagram Reels presents adults and young users with a more straightforward way to tell others about their day. It employs quick photos and videos that are only available for 24 hours instead of being permanently posted. Now engagement is encouraged, especially after Instagram included the “Swipe” option. This has allowed e-commerce sites to both advertise their products and make instant messaging easier.
Youtube has joined the bandwagon
While YouTube is more or less a platform for long-form videos, its recent update offers shorter vertical videos. Known as YouTube Shorts, the feature allows creators to engage with their audience in under 60 seconds.
But YouTube has another trick up its sleeve, and this one is mainly towards advertisers. It is “YouTube TrueView” and is the primary advertising technology for YouTube. Through this, advertisers can promote long or short videos, with some being skippable after five seconds.
However, since most people are unlikely to click on longer ads, YouTube now offers 6-second non-skippable ads. The clickthrough rate for shorter 15 and 30-second ads is around 70%, a whopping number for any business.
It’s time to say goodbye to IGTV
With Instagram’s IGTV coming off as less captivating than its Reels and video posts, it has decided to remove IGTV. Instead, it has a separate section for videos. These videos will appear on a person’s profile and can be viewed from the Instagram app.
The change they made here is that videos posted to the Instagram feed can be up to 60 minutes long. The exact reason for doing this is not confirmed. But it seems like Instagram wants a seamless platform where short and long videos co-exist.
This makes long videos more accessible to users using the Instagram app. And it helps promote video tutorials that people typically do not consume on social media apps.
Another significant change is that Instagram videos that are longer can be monetized, a feature not available on Reels. This significantly shifts the focus towards creators who don’t sell a service and want to gain cash through Instagram.
Does this mean long-form videos are out of the picture?
With short-form videos becoming more popular among consumers, will long-form videos die out? While it’s highly recommended for any business to create videos as short as possible, the answer isn’t that black and white.
While short-form videos will drive traffic from new users, long-form videos are better for brand loyalty. Shorter videos will get more engagement and show up on new users’ feeds. But longer videos will be the backbone of your business.
Of course, that depends on what service you’re offering. Ecommerce companies will want to direct their attention towards short-form videos and ads. However, long-form videos are better suited for when you want to go in-depth about product details. That is, of course, only after you’ve grabbed the user’s attention with a short-form video.
Companies that offer webinars will benefit from longer videos. And so will companies that post interviews. However, promos and how-to videos should remain under a minute or two, depending on how long the tutorial needs to be.
Essentially, ask yourself two questions:
- First, can the video content be summarized in a short-form video?
- Do you want to merely catch the attention of the consumer or develop brand loyalty?
The correct formula is neither short nor long, but a mix of both.
What this all means for an entrepreneur
Short-form videos hold substantial market value, especially for new businesses. Take the example of the Dollar Shave Club. What started as a viral video on YouTube grew to become a behemoth of a brand.
And that’s not where the examples end. There are countless success stories like this one that prove the value of short videos.
Short videos have a higher clickthrough rate, and for entrepreneurs, that’s all you need. Short videos are of particular interest to people with ecommerce businesses. For example, 84% of people say they are more compelled to buy a product by watching a video. And the statistics keep on showing a friendlier short-video market.
There is no doubt that short-form videos are gradually creeping up the graph. And while long-form videos are great for information and brand loyalty, shorter videos are better for PR.
This begs one last question: Are videos beneficial for you? The answer is – yes!
How to Make a TikTok Video: Beginners Start Here
And with 1 billion monthly active users, it’s time to join the action and get your brand out there to a wider audience!
Want to learn how to make a TikTok Video but don’t know where to start? Don’t sweat it! We broke down all the steps and tools you’ll need to make a viral-worthy first video and make sure your debut is anything but cringe.
Download the full Social Trends report to get an in-depth analysis of the data you need to prioritize and plan your social strategy in 2022.
How to create a TikTok account
First things first, you’ll need to create a TikTok account.
There are different ways to sign up for one: you can use your phone number, email address or social media account. Here’s how to do it using your phone number.
1. Download TikTok from Google Play or the App Store.
2. Open the TikTok App on your iPhone or Android.
3. Click the “Me” or “Profile” icon at the bottom-right of your screen.
4. Choose a method to sign up (we’re choosing “use phone or email”)
5. Enter your birth date and phone number (make sure this is accurate because it’s how you’ll retrieve passwords and confirm your account).
6. Enter the 6-digit code sent to that phone number (see, told ya!)
7. You did it! Celebrate by scrolling TikTok for too many hours.
How to make a TikTok video
Here’s how to get started on your very first TikTok video. Luckily for you, it’s way easier than learning this TikTok Shuffle dance.
1. Hit the + sign at the bottom of your screen.
2. You can upload photos and videos from your phone’s library or make a video directly using the TikTok camera.
3. If recording directly, hit the Record button at the bottom of the screen. Hit it again when you’re done recording. The default video mode is “Quick” which is for 15 second videos but you can switch it to “Camera” for more editing options and longer videos (15s, 60s and 3 mins), or “Templates” to create a specific style of video.
4. Tap the check mark when you’re done shooting all your footage.
5. Make any edits or changes on the post page. All your edits are on the right sidebar of the screen. Also, add music or sounds by hitting “Add sound” at the top of the screen.
6. Post that video and share it everywhere! Make sure to include a description with some hashtags so it finds its way to your audience.
How to make a TikTok with multiple videos
Instead of taking one long video, why not capture shorter videos and edit them together to make your TikTok video? Here’s how to do that (and you don’t need a film degree).
1. Hit that “+” sign to start your video
2. You can either shoot multiple videos directly by hitting that record button after each clip, building up your video with different shots. Or, you can hit the “Upload” button next to the record button and add multiple videos and photos you have stored on your phone.
3. Select all your media and tap Next.
4. You can now sync sound across your videos and make adjustments (or try “Auto sync” which will do the syncing up for you.)
5. Hit Next when done. You’ll be brought to a preview screen where you can further add sounds, more effects, text, and stickers.
6. Tap Next when you’re done editing your video and proceed to the Post screen.
7. Remember to throw in a description and some hashtags and bingo-bango-bongo you’re the Steven Spielberg of TikTok!
5 things to know before creating your first TikTok
TikTok style is less polished than other types of video
Don’t worry about being too precious with your videos. On TikTok, videos are meant to be candid, and natural—and they should show off your personality. Things like perfect edits, smooth transitions or flawless lighting shouldn’t get in the way of your idea and your own charisma.
Sure, there are lots of editing options, effects and filters to choose from (what the heck is the difference between B3 and G4 filters anyways?) but the real star is you —or, at least all 6 of these friends belting out Lady Gaga for the #caughtinabadromance challenge at this bachelorette. If that’s not candid, I don’t know what is.
You don’t have to dance
Good news! You don’t have to spend 2 hours trying to perfect the LaLisa dance tutorial to make sure your video stands out (unless you want to, then no judgment over here!).
There are so many different ways to engage your followers that don’t involve you popping and locking in your living room in front of a ring light (but again, no judgement if you do, except maybe from your pet and their adorable judging eyes).
You also don’t have to attempt whatever this is.
Hashtags can help more people see your post
It’s no secret a good hashtag can go a long way on TikTok. Strategic use of hashtags will help people find your videos who don’t already follow you, and maybe even see it on their For You Page (FYP).
The right song can go a long way
Attaching a trending song to your video or audio from a popular TikTok video can help it get seen by more people. This app has a big music following (lots of new songs are intentionally promoted through the app to help them climb the music charts) so lassoing your video to one of these shooting stars is only going to help you get on more FYP and in front of new audiences.
Your greatest asset is you
Don’t overthink it, just come up with a simple idea and let your personality shine through. The sense of intimacy and community that TikTok brings is why people love this app—it feels personal.
Even if you’re doing a TikTok challenge or trend that’s popular, the thing that will make you stand out is your unique take on it. It’s not about gimmicks but about putting your best self out there. Nothing should feel too staged or self-aware (that’s cringe territory). Pretend your audience are your good friends and approach it with that energy!
@janikon_No, I can’t re-record this, I’m laughing too hard #fyp♬ original sound – Stu (he/him)
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