New apps are vying for the short-video market vacated by the Chinese platform.
MUMBAI — After India banned TikTok and dozens of other Chinese-owned apps in June over data privacy concerns, "people thought it would be the end of the influencers," says Awez Darbar, a dancer and comedic Indian TikTok star. Since then, however, at least a dozen new platforms have launched in what was once the ByteDance-owned service's fastest-growing market. (It had over 200 million users.) "It hurt when it was banned," says Darbar, who had more than 25 million TikTok followers. "But then I knew if TikTok [went], there will be other options."
Since launching in 2016 in China as Douyin, and then under its current name in Japan and South Korea the following year, TikTok has demonstrated the power of short-form videos — they range from three to 15 seconds — to create viral buzz that drives streams and builds careers. In India, which TikTok entered in 2018 following its acquisition of the startup Musical.ly, music companies used the platform in multiple ways, from creating dance challenges to roping in A-list influencers to star in music videos for other platforms. "It became essential for every promotional plan to have TikTok in it," says Roochay Shukla, marketing manager at the music industry services company Outdustry India. According to his estimates, music featured in about 70% of the Indian videos uploaded on the platform.
The TikTok ban has left India's music industry without one of its favorite publicity tools. Competitors stepping into the breach include Triller, Facebook's Instagram Reels and HotShots. (The lattermost comes from Indian music streaming service Gaana.) Such local contenders as Josh (from the company behind news aggregator Dailyhunt), Moj (from the team that runs social media network ShareChat), MX Takatak and Roposo are also vying for business. In September, Google launched YouTube Shorts in India first, with plans to expand globally from there.