What is the app that puts music behind pictures?

Introducing TikTok

TikTok is a popular mobile app for creating and sharing short videos. Initially released in 2016 in China under the name Douyin, TikTok quickly grew and expanded globally, with its international version launching in 2017. As of 2024, TikTok has over 1.7 billion registered users worldwide according to one report, making it one of the most popular social media platforms.

TikTok allows users to create 15 to 60 second videos, typically set to music or other audio. Videos can utilize a range of creative tools like filters, effects, and stickers. Users can browse for trending sounds and challenges as inspiration. The app’s AI also customizes the “For You” feed to show relevant videos based on user interactions.

A key part of TikTok is its participatory culture. Simple filming using just a smartphone allows anyone to be a creator. Popular TikTok trends often go viral globally, with millions of users creating their own take on a dance, stunt, or meme. This engagement and imitation drives the app’s momentum.

Videos with Music

One of the defining features of TikTok is its ability to add music and sounds to videos. Users can choose from a massive library of songs and audio clips to creatively enhance their video content. TikTok has licensing deals with major record labels, publishers, and distributors to offer both popular and emerging artists (Add to Music App).

The music selection process is seamless and intuitive. Users can search for specific songs or browse trending sounds. There is an enormous variety of genres and decades represented. TikTok’s algorithm also recommends sounds based on a user’s interests and profile (Playlists, Sounds, Trends). Songs and clips can be easily added to videos during the editing process.

Music is core to the creativity and popularity of TikTok. Adding the perfect song can make a video go viral. The app has launched numerous hits and trends based solely around its sounds. Both rising and established musicians rely on TikTok for promotion. The platform has given musical fame to creators like Lil Nas X. Overall, TikTok has transformed how music is discovered and consumed.

Popular Sounds and Trends

TikTok is well known for its viral sounds and dance trends that take over the app and spread into mainstream culture. In 2021, popular sounds included “Adult Swim” by jvke which soundtracked over 10 million TikTok videos as users lip-synced to the lyrics (https://www.cnet.com/culture/internet/our-favorite-tiktok-trends-of-2021-from-couch-guy-to-bones-day/). “Stay” by The Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber was another huge TikTok hit in 2021, used in over 8 million videos often showing transitions from drab to glamorous outfits.

Viral dance challenges are a signature part of TikTok. In 2021, dances to Meg Thee Stallion’s “Thot S***” and Doja Cat’s “Woman” inspired millions of users to show off their moves and outfits. Easy, catchy choreographies to songs like “Holy” by Justin Bieber spread quickly across TikTok. Even dance crazes from decades past like the Makarena and Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” were given new life in TikTok videos (https://newsroom.tiktok.com/en-us/year-on-tiktok-2021-us).

Other popular trends included outfit transformations in timed transitions, point-of-view cooking videos, and the “Day in the Life” trend showing fanciful imagined days. Viral sounds combined with do-it-yourself trends dominate TikTok as users seek to put their own spin on emerging crazes.

Creating and Sharing TikTok Videos

TikTok makes it easy for anyone to create and share short videos. Here’s how to make your first TikTok video:

To start, open the TikTok app and tap the “+” icon at the bottom to open the camera. You can then record a new video straight from the app or upload existing videos from your camera roll. TikTok lets you record videos up to 60 seconds long.

One of TikTok’s key features is its library of licensed music and sounds. You can add background music to your video by selecting from trending or popular songs. TikTok has partnerships with music labels to offer a vast catalog of sounds to choose from (Source).

To add further customization, you can apply filters and fun AR effects. These can transform your look and add graphics or stickers to liven up your videos.

Once your video is ready, write a captivating caption. Then post it to your TikTok feed where all your followers can see it. Use relevant hashtags so your videos can be discovered by other TikTok users interested in that topic or music.

TikTok also makes it easy to directly share your videos to other platforms like Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and more. This expands your audience beyond just the TikTok app.

Effects and Filters

One of the most popular features of TikTok is the wide variety of visual effects and filters available to enhance videos. Users can access a library of effects ranging from facial warping filters to creative color edits and special effects. Effects can transform backgrounds, adjust colors, add graphics and text, and manipulate facial features.

Some trending effects on TikTok include green screen and chroma key effects for seamlessly layering custom backgrounds. There are also 3D filters that add CGI graphics and animation to videos. Split screen and cloning effects allow users to duplicate themselves in a shot. Face effects morph facial features in humorous or surreal ways. Additionally, there are beauty filters that smooth skin and adjust facial structure.

TikTok collaborated with providers like Snap and FaceTune to develop high-quality filters optimized for the platform (1). Users can preview and favorite effects in the app to build a customized library of their preferred filters. TikTok also offers an Effect House toolkit that lets creators design and publish their own AR effects and lenses for others to use (2). Overall, TikTok’s large catalog of effects encourages creativity and provides tools for users to enhance their content.

(1) https://support.tiktok.com/en/using-tiktok/creating-videos/effects

(2) https://effecthouse.tiktok.com/

TikTok Challenges

One of the most popular aspects of TikTok are the viral challenges that spread across the platform. TikTok challenges encourage users to create videos based on a common theme or specific dance move. Some of the most well-known TikTok challenges include:

The Silhouette Challenge: Users pose in creative ways behind a red filter to create a striking silhouette effect.

The Blinding Lights Challenge: Inspired by The Weeknd’s song, this challenge involved creating timed dance videos.

The Flip the Switch Challenge: Users swap clothes when Drake’s song lyrics say “I just flipped the switch.”

The Renegade: Created by teenager Jalaiah Harmon, this challenge features quick hand movements danced to the song Lottery by K Camp.

Challenges spread quickly on TikTok and are a great way for creators to engage their audience, showcase creativity, and potentially go viral.

TikTok Stars

TikTok has gained immense popularity in recent years for its entertaining short videos. As a result, the platform has produced several content creators who have attained celebrity status with massive followings. Some of the most popular TikTok stars include:

Charli D’Amelio is currently the most followed person on TikTok, with over 142 million followers. She first went viral for her dancing videos in 2019 and has since expanded into a range of content. D’Amelio became the first TikTok creator to reach 100 million followers in 2020 (https://hypeauditor.com/top-tiktok/).

Khaby Lame is the second most followed TikTok star with over 142 million followers. The Senegalese-Italian creator became hugely popular for his funny reaction and parody videos. His ironic style helped him gain a global fanbase (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most-followed_TikTok_accounts).

Addison Rae Easterling skyrocketed to fame on TikTok with her dances and lip-sync videos. She now has over 93 million followers, making her one of the top creators. Beyond the app, Easterling has launched a music career and acted in the 2022 film He’s All That (https://www.dexerto.com/entertainment/top-20-most-followed-tiktok-accounts-loren-gray-charli-damelio-more-1326252/).

Other top TikTok stars include Bella Poarch, Spencer Knight, Will Smith, and Zach King. These creators have all capitalized on TikTok’s appeal, using the platform’s tools to produce engaging and viral content.


TikTok has faced controversies over censorship and data privacy concerns. Some argue TikTok suppresses content that is critical of China in order to comply with Chinese censorship laws. There are also concerns that TikTok’s parent company ByteDance could be compelled to provide TikTok user data to the Chinese government under China’s national intelligence laws. In 2020, President Trump threatened to ban TikTok in the United States over data security fears, though the Biden administration later revoked this executive order. India banned TikTok along with dozens of other Chinese apps in 2020 over national security concerns. TikTok has denied allegations of censorship and maintains that user data is secure and not shared with the Chinese government.

Impact on Culture

TikTok has had a significant impact on popular culture, influencing music trends, dance crazes, fashion, and even language. According to CNN, “It’s changed the way people get famous​​ “Influencer culture,” where people get famous for their expertise in specific interests, far predates TikTok. But the platform took it mainstream.”

TikTok has launched many viral dance challenges that then spread into mainstream culture, with celebrities and public figures participating in the dances. Some of the most popular challenges include the Renegade, M to the B, and Savage challenge dances. TikTok dances have been widely replicated and become a cultural phenomenon.

Music trends are also greatly impacted by TikTok. Songs featured in popular TikTok videos see major spikes in streams and downloads. According to TikTok’s newsroom, “We’ve seen eye-popping results from artists and labels. Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ exploded after the #YeeHaw challenge spread virally on TikTok. The challenge itself has generated over 68 million video creations on the platform.”

Some linguists argue TikTok has developed its own distinct vocabulary and vernacular, influencing how young people communicate. Terms like “cheugy” and “main character energy” stemmed from TikTok.

The Future

As TikTok continues to grow in popularity, many are wondering what’s next for the short-form video app. According to industry experts, TikTok is poised for even more growth and innovation in the coming years.

Some key predictions for TikTok’s future include:

  • Expanded ecommerce capabilities – TikTok is expected to further develop its shoppable video features and integrate more seamlessly with ecommerce platforms.
  • More advertising opportunities – Experts predict the platform will open up more options for businesses to advertise and further monetize its large user base.
  • Live shopping features – Livestreams that allow real-time selling to viewers will likely be a priority.
  • Developing virtual influencers – TikTok may create more virtually generated characters and avatars to act as influencers.
  • Competition with Instagram – As both platforms add similar short video features, they may battle for market share of younger users.
  • Expansion in emerging markets – TikTok is expected to focus on growth in developing countries where internet use is rising.

While TikTok’s popularity has led to some controversies around data privacy and censorship, the platform seems poised to continue its incredible growth. With new features and capabilities in the works, it’s likely TikTok will remain a top force in social media in the years ahead.

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