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TikTok is spooking everyone at the moment: established social media giants trying to copy its best features; music streaming services worrying that it’s stolen their zeitgeist juice; music rightsholders rumbling about the need to evolve its licensing agreements. And that’s without mentioning the regulators and politicians who’ve got the app in their sights for various reasons.

On the first category there, the social media giants, the Wall Street Journal has some new information on Instagram’s efforts to tame the TikTok threat. Spoiler: they don’t appear to be going entirely to plan.

“Instagram users cumulatively are spending 17.6 million hours a day watching Reels, less than one-tenth of the 197.8 million hours TikTok users spend each day on that platform,” reported the newspaper yesterday.

Its report was based on internal research from Meta: a document titled ‘Creators x Reels State of the Union 2022’ that was published in August, and has now been leaked to the WSJ.

Other troubling stats for Meta summarised in the report: Reels engagement had fallen by 13.6% over the four weeks prior to the study; and that only 20.7% of the 11 million US Instagram creators were posting using the Reels format.

Oh, and nearly a third of the Reels videos that ARE posted were created on another platform, complete with a branded watermark – in other words: TikTok – even though these videos are downranked by Instagram’s recommendation algorithm.

Meta’s responses to the leak have a common theme. “We still have work to do,” said spokesperson Devi Narasimhan, while saying that the engagement stats were outdated and not global.

“We’re seeing good promise in the rollout of Reels, good adoption, but with that said, we know we also have work to do,” said COO Justin Osofsky. “But creators and businesses are seeing promising results, and our monetisation growth is faster than we expected.”

Let’s zoom out again to find the music angle in all this. TikTok’s growth and engagement is giving Instagram (not to mention YouTube, Snapchat and other established social media and video platforms) an almighty competitive challenge. Music, as we know, is a vital component for the short-video businesses of all these platforms.

So, as those established players continue to fight back against the TikTok threat, finding new ways to work with artists and the music industry, and developing more creative ways for music to be used, will be a priority. In short, their battle should create more opportunities for artists, while rightsholders will be hoping that the competition also fuels a bumper next set of licensing deals for that music.

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Music Ally's Head of Insight

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