The Decline in TikTok Users Is Wishful Thinking for Music

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal suggested that TikTok experienced slowing user growth in the US between 2022 and 2023. The decline was attributed in part to the younger demographic. At MusicWatch, we saw no evidence of this. To be fair, there are lots of ways to measure audience for a platform such as TikTok, ranging from downloads to daily usage. The time period noted in the Journal was 2022 and 2023, before the most recent outcry from Congress, and prior to Universal Music’s decision to remove its catalog. Perhaps 2024 will show a different trend. MusicWatch has been tracking engagement with TikTok back to the early days of MusicAlly, and looks at both audience numbers and engagement, or time spent listening to music on the platform. The statistics cited below are for the US only.

The ”music audience” for TikTok grew 7 percent between 2022 and 2023. This is based on MusicWatch’s Annual Music Study (March 2024 release), with music audience defined as listening to videos with music on TikTok or following artists or bands on the platform. That audience metric grew 8 percent among Gen Z, and 3 percent among Millennials.  

TikTok engagement showed a double-digit rise comparing Q4 2023 to Q4 2022. MusicWatch’s audiocensus tracking (February 2024 release) is primarily used to trend weekly listening time for audio formats and specific platforms. According to that study TikTok’s audience for music listening rose 14 percent year over year. Per capita Time Spent Listening (TSL) grew 16 percent, and the average listener added a few minutes of weekly TikTok listening time. A similar pattern was observed for the 18-24 age group.

People use TikTok for everything from makeup tips to comedy.  These other genres may be performing less well than music. Prior research has shown that music is an essential element to the TikTok experience. For our audience, which is most interested in that music component, the statistics point to an up year for TikTok in 2023.

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