TikTok has been the trendy new social media platform for a while now, and its stats are impressive. Approximately 689 million people use TikTok monthly, and, as of December 2020, the app had been downloaded over 6 billion times. The app grew in popularity over the course of the pandemic, as more people downloaded the app to cure their boredom. TikTok has had a significant role in several industries since the beginning of its popularity. Celebrities are born overnight, and some people have even scored record deals and brand deals from their content. One of the industries in which I’ve already begun to see the impact of TikTok is the theatre industry.
Social media has been a powerful tool in the theater, and the entertainment industry as a whole, for years, and we’ve already seen its impact. For example, Be More Chill headed to Broadway largely because of its huge online teen fanbase. Casting directors, like those at Telsey and Company and Tara Rubin Casting and HBO’s Euphoria casting director Jennifer Venditti, post important open calls on their social media outlets! Although social media was already prevalent in the theatre world, the pandemic has changed the way the theater industry functions forever. In person auditions are almost a thing of the past. Many theaters and casting directors have been holding auditions by video or over zoom. Remote auditions have the potential to be cheaper, easier, and maybe even better overall for everyone long term, especially with no real end of the pandemic in sight for the near future.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, some auditions have even been happening on TikTok. Some of these auditions are smaller; kids holding “auditions” for a TikTok “show,” where they just hold a casting without an actual production. These TikTok “shows” have resulted in some smaller theatre influencers getting a larger audience and fanbase within the app. However, there are larger-scale auditions happening on TikTok too. Pianist Tyler Capa held a competition to cast a show at 54 Below post pandemic, and the competition’s hashtag (#capacasting) has over 4.2 million views. Only a few were selected, but thousands of TikTok users auditioned. People use TikTok to share casting notices for all sorts of projects, including TV shows, voiceover work, and movies.
There have been other auditions and competitions, and TikTok theatre influencers are making connections in the industry. Regular, non-Broadway users are getting duets on their videos from composers who wrote the songs they were singing. TikTok has even connected creators in writing new musicals, like the Ratatouille musical. The Ratatouille musical began with one TikTok creator posting a song she made about protagonist Remy, and it became a huge collaborative effort on TikTok, resulting in a streamed production that raised over $2 million for The Actors Fund. The Ratatousical could have even been nominated for an Emmy this year!
With the ever changing trends, social media is changing the world everyday. I think that TikTok may currently be leading the charge, and I think that we still have yet to see the full power of TikTok’s role within the theatre and entertainment industries.