What started as a fun lip-syncing social network has now turned into a career for many young people. TikTok, which has grown exponentially over the last few years, continues to provide business opportunities for creators, such as the "creator fund," a program that offers funding to creators with over 10,000 followers.
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the prestigious labor union that represents some of Hollywood’s biggest names, is now representing TikTokers. According to the New York Times, SAG-AFTRA approved an “influencer agreement,” that expands membership options to TikTok creators. The terms apply to individuals who are able to monetize their TikTok and social media use, by advertising products on their platforms.
Supply chain sophomore Nick Coglianese, who has accumulated over 300,000 followers on TikTok, has seen others participate in brand partnerships.
“I think that would be kind of an interesting thing to do," Coglianese said. "I know a lot of TikTokers do sell products/merch, and, just as another source of income, so I think I would be interested in that if that was available to me.”
Although Coglianese started out making TikTok videos for fun with his sister, he does see it as a possible career in the future.
“Right now, for me, I think TikTok is more of just kind of like a hobby, just a little way to have some fun with college especially with everything going on right now," Coglianese said. “I do see it as a career in the future, if I were to really put a lot of time and effort into it."
Creative advertising sophomore Madison Moran, who has 25,000 followers on TikTok, also sees the viral video-sharing platform as a hobby that does not necessarily require the same level of expertise as acting.
“Personally, I feel that (SAG-AFTRA) should be something actors do," Moran said. "I feel like they’re two separate platforms ... so I wouldn’t expect an app like TikTok to be anywhere close to what Meryl Streep is doing.”
Psychology and human biology junior Emma Lock agreed with Moran's take.
“TikTokers like Addison Rae, and Charli D'Amelio, and Bryce Hall — all those people, they got famous and now they’re making so much money," Lock said. "I’m just like ‘that’s not really fair.' I’m going to college, I'm working my butt off trying to get my education and paying my rent and my tuition, which is ridiculous.”
Lock has made a few TikToks for fun, but has not gained a following large enough to start a career.
“I’ve thought about trying to do more dances, and try to get good at them, because a lot of people have made it into a career and become multi-millionaires," Lock said.
Like Coglianese, however, it all comes down to not enough hours in the day. Between classes and work, Lock said she doesn't have the time to dedicate it to her potential TikTok career.
Lock does, however, recognize that TikTok could be a way for some to make extra cash during these times.
“Also with COVID, maybe because there's not as many opportunities with restrictions, it's another way, virtually, to boost your career," Lock said.
Regardless of individual motives, TikTok has been a beneficial platform for many young people. Some of the biggest creators, such as D’Amelio, make around $100,000 per post. However, one does not need to have millions of followers to make money on TikTok. In fact, users can get sponsorship offers with as little as 5,000 followers.
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