1. bookVolume 10 (2021): Issue 1 (April 2021)
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Journal
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20 Apr 2021
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access type Open Access

Resource Integration, Value Co-Creation, and Service-dominant Logic in Music Marketing: The Case of the TikTok Platform

Published Online: 30 Apr 2021
Page range: 33 - 50
Received: 04 Feb 2020
Accepted: 03 Nov 2020
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
First Published
20 Apr 2021
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

It is a fact that the past research has explored service-dominant logic (S-D logic) and value co-creation in music marketing (Choi & Burnes 2013; Gamble & Gilmorex 2013; Gamble 2018; Saragih 2019), yet a key aspect of S-D logic, namely resource integration, is an unexplored territory and a promising phenomenon of study. A scattering of evidence demonstrates how actors, whether individuals or organisations, in the music industry are making value propositions and providing operand resources to users of platforms (Poell, Nieborg, & Van Dijck 2019), which may result in resource integration and commercial success at a quick pace and on a global scale. Using secondary data in an archival research approach (Welch 2000), this paper examines TikTok, a rapidly growing platform where users integrate short (e.g., under 15 s) clips of commercial music into user generated video content in which users dance to, lip-sync with, accept social challenges, integrate hashtags and create memes based on musical content. Further, there is a discussion on evidence about how music is being used by actors on TikTok in order to argue that (a) S-D logic (Vargo & Lusch 2016) is an insightful perspective through which one is able to understand music marketing; (b) music providers essentially make value propositions with their music that other actors, such as music consumers, can integrate into their lives through platforms like TikTok; (c) changes in technology affect such resource integration and how actors in the music industry can adapt to such change; (d) value-in-social-context (Edvardsson, Tronvoll, & Gruber 2010) is a driver of resource integration by users on the platform; and (e) this example of value created by users on TikTok is just one example of the many types of value which guide action and interaction on today’s music platforms. The discussion and analysis is concluded with several implications for research and practice.

Keywords

Introduction

Consider the moving hip. Consider two moving hips, and two pairs of feet dancing together to the same rhythm. Consider the conversation. “This band is great, have you seen them play before?” asks Dan. “Yeah, I love going to their shows!” she answers. Then she reaches her hand out towards Dan. “Hi, I’m Tiffany.” Now consider this: musicians don’t produce goods; they provide a service. They create and market experiences. And the value they deliver to people from these experiences? Well, consider then this: after saying hello to each other, and dancing with each other, Tiffany and Dan started dating. And then they fell in love. And then they got married. You can imagine what comes next.

I am not saying that the fundamental service of musicians and music is matchmaking. But in the story of Tiffany and Dan, the opportunity to connect with another human being using a common interest, a common song, a common concert, and a shared emotional experience is clearly a value proposition offered by music providers. And in the service ecosystem of music and musical concerts, a romantic relationship is just one example of the types of value users can co-create and attain.

Here, I argue that S-D logic (Ballantyne & Varey 2008; Vargo & Lusch, 2016) is an appropriate perspective through which one can understand marketing in the music industry. I examine empirical evidence of resource integration and value co-creation (Vargo & Lusch 2017) on the TikTok platform, a rapidly growing platform in which users generate short videos in which they dance to, lip-sync with, and create memes based on short (15 to 30 s) clips of songs. I discuss how both music providers and users interact on the platform in order to demonstrate that (a) the theoretical lens of S-D logic is useful in understanding music marketing; (b) with their music, music providers can be considered to be making value propositions to other actors, such as music consumers, who then integrate musical resources into their lives through platforms like TikTok; (c) changes in technology affect such resource integration and how actors, whether individuals or organisations, in the music industry can adapt to such change; (d) value-in-social-context (Edvardsson, Tronvoll & Gruber 2010) is a driver of resource integration by users on the platform; and (e) this example of value created by users on TikTok is just one example of the many types of value which guide action and interaction on today’s music platforms.

The paper is organised as follows. First, I review the relevant literature on S-D logic, resource integration, social media platforms, and the music industry to demonstrate why this study is particularly interesting. Second, I present my methodology and approach. Third, I present the case of TikTok, illustrating how users, producers and music marketers integrate resources, co-create, and derive value-in-social-context on the TikTok platform. This follows with evidence of actors in the music industry whom are using a strategic S-D logic approach early on in the production stages to take advantage of the co-creation and resource integration opportunities afforded by the platform as they engage in a “logic of human exchange” (Vargo & Lusch 2014: 102). I conclude with implications for both practitioners in the music industry as well as for future research, such as what role the platforms, through a process of platformisation (Poell, Nieborg, & Van Dijck 2019), may have in affecting these value co-creation and resource integration processes.

Background Literature
Service-dominant Logic and Resource Integration

Internet platform companies (e.g., AirBnB) are actors performing innovative activities that involve the reconfiguration of resources and the integration of such resources within service ecosystems (Koskela-Huotari et al. 2016). Note that actors is a term used to describe either the individuals or organisations which engage in some form of “human exchange systems” here and also in the S-D logic literature (Lusch & Vargo 2014: 102). Within service ecosystems, which are defined as “relatively self-contained, self-adjusting system[s] of mostly loosely coupled social and economic (resource-integrating) actors connected by shared institutional logics and mutual value creation through service exchange” (Lusch & Nambisan 2015: 161), the behaviour of actors has been theoretically and empirically articulated using the perspective of S-D logic (Vargo & Lusch 2004). Under the perspective of S-D logic, value is a “core organising principle” in which “actors are thus joined because of mutual value co-creation efforts, and the actors together constitute a self-adjusting, self-contained service ecosystem” (Meynhardt, Chandler & Strathoff 2016: 2982). Platforms, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, are types of internet platform companies in which actors “become resource integrators and co-creators of value in social contexts” (Letaifa, Edvarsson & Tronvoll 2016: 1937). Considering that information and communication technology are viewed as integral parts of service ecosystems as both drivers and outcomes of the resource-integration processes undertaken by actors (Vargo & Lusch 2008; Letaifa, Edvarsson & Tronvoll 2016), one begins to wonder exactly how technological change within any given industry is related to changing resource integration processes.

Festa, Cuomo and Metallo (2019) show how actors in the Italian wine sector currently using S-D logic and could use S-D logic approaches based on the evolution of electronic commerce technology and that “a strong orientation towards value co-creation through S-D logic seems necessary and fruitful” (p. 481) to overcome challenges and realise new opportunities in an electronic commerce market dominated by competing on price alone. Dahl, Milne & Peltier (2019) argue in their investigation of the health service sector that advances in technology are moving health service towards a S-D approach “driven in part by the emergence of the internet and new omni-channel communication platforms that increase consumers’ informational access and empower their decision-making outside of the service encounter” (p. 2). Consumers’ search for health information (which has been facilitated by advances in technology) is a critical value co-creation activity. The other research examines how changes in information technology have affected and enabled the resource integration capabilities of actors as they create user generated digital content in a process of co-opting brands (across many industries) to form their identities (Halliday 2014). Although several researchers use the S-D logic perspective to explore the empirical context of the music industry, past efforts fall short of capturing and detailing how technological change, in particular platforms, are shaping resource integration and value propositions by marketers in the music industry.

The historical review of marketing in the music industry done by Ogden, Ogden and Long (2011) provide a record of evidence demonstrating how technological changes have affected marketing practices in the industry—whether it was Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph, the subsequent creation of the gramophone, the emergence of broadcast radio, the beginning of the cassette and compact disc era, or the disruption of the Internet and MP3 file sharing services such as Napster. And while the authors ultimately introduce the concept of S-D logic and argue that it is applicable to the music industry, using examples of co-creative activities and approaches taken by artists such as Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails, the timing of their writing may have precluded them from making more articulate arguments about exactly how S-D logic is applicable to the music industry and how technology affects resource integration and value propositions. Choi and Burnes (2013) build upon Ogden, Ogden & Long’s argument and describe internet-enabled value co-creation activities in the music industry and use S-D logic to build a counter-argument to the music industry actors who viewed the technological disruption of the internet as a threat to their business model due to the prevalence of piracy and free file sharing on the internet. Choi and Burnes provide brief examples of music providers who co-create value with their fans over the internet through socialisation and interaction (like artist John Prine), free dissemination of music (under the so-called Swedish Model), and facilitation of fan-funded music production through the example of crowdfunding platform ArtistShare. Yet, their examination is arguably superficial and it fails to adequately either study the behavioural mechanics of resource integration (which would illustrate how actors actually co-create value together) or addresses the platforms which the internet has created in its wake. Studies performed after Ogden, Ogden, & Long’s review provide further evidence of how subsequent changes in technology affected the music industry. It is observed that the distribution of music industry revenues (Wlömert & Papies 2016) are impacted by the emergence of streaming service technology, and the proliferation of streaming platforms has been found to affect how artists and their songs achieve “stardom” and “blockbuster” success on the music charts (Ordanini & Nunes 2016). Gamble (2018) provides a thorough and rigorous empirical study of technology and internet mediated co-production between end-consumers and music producers, and explicitly differentiated such co-productive activity from value co-creative activity, leaving this latter activity unexplored and outside the scope of their research. Gamble thus falls short of making a broader contribution to our understanding of S-D logic in various empirical contexts.

Gamble and Gilmore (2013) also describe how the technological driver of the internet is fundamentally changing marketing in the music industry and perform a literature review of the marketing literature to provide a compelling argument why the music industry should embrace S-D logic. While they provide a typology of co-creational marketing practices and empirical examples of how these examples are implemented in the music industry (through platforms such as YouTube), they fail to mention resource integration or provide an in-depth examination of how all actors (including consumers of music, producers of music and platforms like YouTube) are benefitting and attaining higher value from co-creative activity. Given that to S-D logic value is always created by multiple actors (Vargo & Lusch 2016), a more thorough examination that includes the perspectives of all actors while looking at a single co-creational marketing practice, may provide more valuable theoretical and practical insight.

Finally, Saragih’s (2019) systematic literature review, which is perhaps the most comprehensive overview of S-D logic and co-creative activities in the music industry to date, finds that co-creation has been used in all phases of the music industry value chain, whether they are festival producers, independent musicians, talent agencies, DJs, or software developers. Saragih uses a large body of evidence to illustrate the prevalence of the S-D logic amongst music industry actors. But since the concepts of resource integration and value propositions are absent in the review, Saragih effectively demonstrates that these aspects of S-D logic are largely untreated in the literature examining the music industry. Nonetheless, Saragih provides several interesting suggestions for future research, all of which aligns with this study and provide additional justification for its necessity. Identifying gaps in literature which examines the music industry using an S-D logic approach, Saragih argues that:

“first, future research can address more detailed elaboration regarding how co-creational strategies are employed to leverage social and monetary focussecond, future studies can also focus on how various co-creational strategies are employed in the distribution stage, due to the fact that there has not been much discussion in this fieldthird, future studies shall address how the actors in development and distribution stages co-create value to achieve social objectives as these two particular areas have not been discussed by previous scholars”

(Saragih 2019: 473)

Thus, this study attempts to the following research questions: how are actors in the music industry employing co-creational strategies in the distribution of their music? How does resource integration occur under such strategies? How do actors make value propositions under such strategies? In order to answer these questions and explore several core aspects of S-D logic (resource integration on platforms and value propositions) which are neglected by past literature, I examine TikTok, a rapidly growing platform with a reported monthly active user base of 500 million people who integrate short (15–30 s) clips of commercial music to make short videos in which they dance to, lip-sync with, accept social challenges, integrate hashtags and create memes based on musical content. By describing evidence of resource integration and co-creational activities on the TikTok platform, I provide a more detailed elaboration of how co-creational strategies are being used to leverage both the social and monetary interests of actors, how such strategies are being employed in the distribution stage of music, how technology continues to affect how actors in the music industry do approach marketing through S-D logic, and the various types of value creation which guides interaction on contemporary music platforms.

Method and Research Design
Case Study Using Archival and Secondary Data

A study of an individual empirical case can be a valuable way to make a conceptual contribution by showing readers how the concept may be applied in other empirical settings (Siggelkow 2007). Here, the empirical case is the TikTok platform, and the broad concept of interest is S-D logic. Research strategies which use a case have been described as “analyses of persons, events, decisions, periods, projects, policies, institutions, or other systems that are studied holistically by one or more methods. The case that is the subject of the inquiry will be an instance of a class of phenomena that provides an analytical frame—an object—within which the study is conducted and which the case illuminates and explicates” (Thomas 2011: 513). In this paper, the subject under study is the TikTok platform and the analytical frame (or the object, to use Thomas’s terminology) is the perspective of S-D logic (Vargo & Lusch 2004). The TikTok platform has been chosen as the subject of study since it is a clear example of S-D logic being used as a strategy in music marketing in order to create value and also it will be demonstrated later.

The data used in this study to describe TikTok and the behaviour of actors on the TikTok platform is archival and is based on secondary data. This approach may be characterised as desk research or secondary research (Stewart & Kamins 1993), which is chosen for several reasons. First, by means of gathering existing data and knowledge about newly emerging phenomena, secondary research may be viewed as an effective strategy for defining subsequent primary research questions for subsequent studies, especially when existing theoretical perspectives—such as S-D logic—may be used in applied research, as in this study (Stewart & Kamins 1993). Second, it has been suggested that there are multiple sources and types of evidence which are appropriate when using a case study approach (Yin 1994), including archival data such as press or other secondary articles (Gibbert Ruigrok & Wicki 2008). Press and newspaper articles, including interview content conducted therein, may be a useful resource for research while providing a timely description of empirical phenomena in business (Cowton 1998). Third, while many of the objections to the qualitative analysis of secondary interview data relate to confidentiality or ethical concerns (Medjedović 2011), the interview data and direct quotes from music industry actors used in this study have been published and made publicly available, which would negate any concerns about confidentiality of such data. Fourth, while this study uses music industry chart data and metrics from TikTok to demonstrate the extent of value creation and resource integration occurring on the platform, secondary data available in the press archives is used as they are relevant information on the research topic and that such use “gains benefits…answering[ing] a newly formed research question, smooth[ing] the pilot stage of a project, or provid[ing] the researcher with a wider sample base for testing interpretation at far less cost and greater speed” (Hox & Boeije 2005: 594). Finally, much of the data derived from secondary sources such as the numbers of videos created, views of those videos, or songs’musicians on industry charts are actual and historical, allowing for their verification. This data reveal explicitly how actors are integrating resources and creating and responding to value propositions on TikTok. Further, in the instances where there may be an incentive for those being interviewed in press articles (such as musical artists or music managers) to misrepresent the degree of intentionality behind their actions on the TikTok platform, one must maintain a degree of scepticism towards these actors’ after the fact knowledge of how effective an S-D logic approach on the platform may have been before they tried it. In such a case, these actors may have some sort of reputational incentive to appear, in the eyes of other industry actors or the public, as knowledgeable or particularly skilled in distributing their music to a large audience and achieving commercial results. It is possible that press articles may be part of their own strategic content creation. Despite this, the data and statistics presented later should show how music is being integrated as a resource by users on the TikTok platform in a process which co-creates value for multiple actors, and this is a process which is appropriately explained by the theoretical lens of S-D logic. Regardless, I articulate and argue that whether or not these artists started with an intentional strategy to use S-D logic on the TikTok platform, the evidence demonstrates that resource integration and response to value propositions are actually occurring on the platform.

The Case: The TikTok Platform

TikTok, also known as “Douyin” in China, is a social media platform which been downloaded over 1.5 billion times as of 14 November 2019 and has an estimated global monthly active user base of 500 million TikTok users (“users”) across 150 countries (Lu & Lu 2019; Sensor Tower 2019). Some data show that users of the platform are largely in their teens and 20s, and that 41 percent of users are between the ages of 16–24 (Influencer Marketing Hub 2019). Others estimate that 50 to 60 percent of users are between the ages of 13 and 24 (Ke 2018). In the TikTok app, users generate short video content by integrating short clips (15 s or less) of popular music. Given that “music is known to be important in the social and personal lives of adolescents and as such many researchers have examined the role music has played in satisfying particular emotional needs (strategies for coping), social needs (belonging and identity) and developmental needs (the socialisation ‘journey’)” (Nuttall 2008: 401), it may not be surprising that TikTok is so popular with this young demographic. The music on TikTok is created by musicians, music producers, music promoters, record labels and other music industry actors to a large extent (collectively referred to hereafter as “music providers”) and uploaded on the platform for the purposes of being integrated by users in user generated video content. The benefits of this integration are numerous for all actors, which I discuss later. While it may be beneficial for readers who are unfamiliar with the platform and its content to immediately go to the platform and view an example video to understand how users integrate music into their video content (https://www.tiktok.com/trending may be a place to start), and throughout this article I will do my best to describe exactly how users co-create and respond to music providers’ value propositions (Chandler & Lusch 2015) by integrating music resources into their videos through several means, including dances, challenges, lipsyncs and memes.

There are arguably a confluence of technological factors that have enabled the possibility of growth as well as driven the growth of TikTok. These factors include the individual processing power of smart phones, the widespread availability of high speed mobile internet, advances in software programming, artificial intelligence and user-friendly rapid video editing, and improved technical accessibility to online music catalogues. It is important to acknowledge that the starting of TikTok would not have been possible in 2009, and probably not even in 2014.

Co-Creative Activities and Resource Integration on TikTok

First, it is important to note that ByteDance Ltd, the owner and operator of the TikTok platform, is the actor responsible for designing and deploying various instruments on the platform (such as the algorithms, user interfaces, technological features and policies). This may mean that ByteDance Ltd. wields considerable power compared to other actors on the platform. These instruments govern how both users and music providers can and do act and interact with each other on the platform, including enabling and constraining their action. ByteDance Ltd., in turn, has to comply with the legal, political and regulatory regimes in which it operates. This is in addition to its relationships with its shareholders and stakeholders. This aspect of and influence of governance has received increasing amounts of attention in the literature on platforms (Gorwa 2019; Poell, Nieborg, & Van Dijck 2019), and while it is not the focus of this study, the role of platforms (and governance) in service ecosystems perhaps merits its own dedicated study.

On TikTok, songs can be considered operand resources—meaning a resource on which an action or operation is performed—and the users are operant resources—meaning resources which act on other operand resources (Constantin & Lusch 1994). Actually, the bottom line is, users co-create with music providers by means of creating video content. The resources that users integrate are the music providers’ music (including the music’s lyrical, rhythmic, melodic, or other musical attributes). TikTok can be viewed as the institution, or the “humanly devised rules, norms, and beliefs that enable and constrain action” (Vargo & Lusch 2016: 11), which coordinates the actions of these actors. ByteDance Ltd, has reportedly received a market valuation of $75 billion USD as of 29 October 2019 (Chen, Wang, & Baigorri 2019), making TikTok arguably the biggest beneficiary of financial value in what I characterise as TikTok’s service ecosystem. However, under the lens of S-D logic (Vargo & Lusch 2008), I claim that all actors on TikTok co-create value and that this value is being determined by each beneficiary. Further, all the actors on TikTok benefit from this co-creative activity. I now provide evidence as to why I believe this is being the case, and the Figure 1 displays the process of value co-creation on TikTok.

Figure 1

The process of value co-creation on TikTok.

How Music Providers Create and Make Value Propositions on TikTok

Value propositions have been defined as “invitations from actors to one another to engage in service… a value proposition invites actors to serve one another in order to attain value, whether it is economic, financial, or social value or some combination of these” (Chandler & Lusch 2015: 6). On TikTok, music providers make value propositions to users through their music. In turn, users respond to music providers’ value propositions by integrating their music into videos, and this integration can occur in a large number of combinations which is mainly limited by user creativity and the features and functionality offered by the TikTok app. However, to concretely understand the mechanics of accepting these value propositions and the implications they have for music providers, I now describe the four main ways by which users integrate these value propositions: dances, lipsyncs, challenges and memes.

Dances

Many users on TikTok co-create with music producers by embodying their music through dance. Given that music and dance are “historically interdependent developments” (Mitchell & Gallaher 2001: 65) with a “logical associationas temporally organized art forms” (Lewis 1988: 129), it may not be a surprise that one of the more popular ways to integrate musical resources in a user’s video is dance. Often these dances are informed by and choreographed to the lyrical and rhythmic content of the music. Take, for instance, the song Hot Shower feat. MadeinTYO & DaBaby by Chance the Rapper (real name Chancelor Jonathan Bennett). Since publicly released on 26 July 2019, this song has been used in approximately 4 million user generated videos on TikTok, because perhaps its rhythmic and lyrical features lend itself to imaginative and co-creative dance activities. The 34 s clip of the song almost opens immediately with the highly visual lyric “I got muscles like Superman’s trainer” (Genius 2019). Users commonly integrate this lyric by curling their arms and flexing their muscles and then moving through a series of choreographed movements to the song’s beat. In the next stanza of the song, Chance the Rapper sings that he “jump stomp stomp on Lucifer, Satan,” with a hard floor drum thumping simultaneously as he says “jump stomp stomp.” The result? Many users either stomp, kick, or shake their feet in synchronisation with this lyric and the accompanying thump of the drum beat. A good example of this is a video posted by @BaronBootBoys, which appear to be a group from the United States Airforce Academy (@BaronBootBoys 2019). Their integration of Chance the Rapper’s song which features the above-mentioned dance moves has resulted in 18.4 million views, 3.4 million likes, and 14,300 comments on TikTok from the day 30 October 2019 they have created it. But perhaps more intriguing than the amount of attention Chance the Rapper’s song has received just from this one video alone (with the video running at about 15 s, one could estimate the song has been heard for a duration of 15 s x 18.4 million views, or 76,667 h from this single @BaronBootBoys video, which is just one of the 4 million videos which the song has been used in)—is that geographically dispersed groups of people from all over the world are all dancing together to this song, whether it may be the members of the United States Air force Academy like the @BaronBootBoys or the Rybka Twins or a pair of Australian identical twin sisters who are gymnasts (@rybkatwinsofficial 2019). Interestingly, evidence from biomusicology and evolutionary psychology suggests that music and dance may have some of its evolutionary origins as a coalition signalling system (Hagen and Bryant 2003). And while I do not suggest that the @BaronBootBoys are intentionally signalling their coalition to those Australian gymnasts down in the southern hemisphere, I do begin to wonder what collection of ephemeral yet forever-digital, cyber, global, dance-based tribal coalitions are emerging across the world through a song like Hot Shower and the type of basic, human evolutionary drives that fuel them. This is something for music marketers to consider.

Lip-syncs

Many users on TikTok make videos of themselves lip-syncing to music. In this circumstance, the value proposition music providers propose to users is the lyrics and the melody, but also the opportunity to pretend like they are singing the words which are being sung. This could be interpreted as an opportunity for such a user to identify with or express feelings from the lyrical content itself. Interestingly, in Fischer’s (2016) analysis of popular rock lyrics, they propose the possibility that a central activity of music audiences is the mental appropriation of lyrical content (Fischer 2016). Framing songwriters and music providers as “thoughtwriters[who] compose texts for others to use in expressing their thoughts (feelings, attitudes)” (Walton 2011: 455), lyrics have become a clear value proposition which a music provider offers a user on TikTok as users lip-sync lyrics to generate participatory (Lashley 2012) content and share with their social network on the platform. While the observation that a global base of users are lip-syncing to music from around the world is not new with TikTok, and it has been reported on YouTube also (Lashley 2012), but the ease of making such content and the level of integration into the apps core functionality is novel. Indeed, some have called TikTok “the Chinese lip-syncing app taking over America,” alluding to the popularity of this core functionality (O’Neil 2018).

Challenges

The other way that music providers (and also users) on TikTok create value propositions is through issuing social challenges. These challenges, which are often linked with a #hashtag, serve as a prompting mechanism which initiates users to generate content and also as an organisational mechanism for the platform to organise related content and maintain the “conversation” on TikTok. A rather famous example of a challenge is the #yeehaw challenge issued by Atlanta, Georgia artist Lil Nas X. After uploading his track Old Town Road to TikTok and challenging users to “drink ‘Yee Yee Juice’ and change into western garb in time for the song’s drop” (Shafer 2019), “millions of video creators used the song as a soundtrack to transform themselves into cowboys and cowgirls[v]ideos [use the] hashtag #yeehaw, almost all of which sample Old Town Road” (Chow 2019). As of 6 December 2019, there are over 207.1 million views of videos on TikTok which used the #yeehaw hashtag. But besides serving as a spark of creative inspiration, why else do users create value from these challenges and integrate them into their content? The well-studied Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge of 2014, in which millions of people made videos of themselves pouring buckets of ice water over their bodies and issuing a challenge to someone else on the platform to do the same, reveals that “people are almost certainly hoping to achieve some sort of social currency” (Pressgrove, McKeever & Jang 2018: 5) by socially sharing and participating in the challenge, and that high-arousal positive emotions were present in such viral sharing. Also, it may not be a surprise that such social media challenges have also been explored using theories of social capital (McGloin & Oeldorf-Hirsch 2018).

Memes

A challenge may be considered a type of meme. On TikTok, these memes are a popular way through which users respond to value propositions and integrate resources on the platform. Internet memes can be defined as “a unit of information (idea, concept or belief), which replicates by passing on via Internet (e-mail, chat, forum, social networks, etc.) in the shape of a hyper-link, video, image, or phraseit can be passed on as an exact copy or can change and evolve” (Diaz 2013: 94). While the concept of a meme has its roots in biology, Darwinian thought, and genetics (Dawkins 1976), viewing the cultural transmission of internet ideas as being rooted purely in biology has been the subject of significant debate (Shifman 2013). Shifman (2013) makes an important contribution to understanding internet memes as units of purely cultural and social transmission that do not necessarily have a biological explanation, and provides a useful typology for analysing memes based on the dimensions of content (the ideas/ideology of a message), form (the physical formulation of the message) and stance (information about the communicator relative to the message) (Shifman 2013). While Shifman’s typology may somewhat blur the line between what differentiates a meme and a challenge on TikTok, there are other examples of memes whose form is not a challenge but whose content is clearly transmitted and replicated amongst users. The “mirror move” meme on TikTok which uses Absofacto’s song “Dissolve” is one example of how memes become popular and spread on TikTok. “New Flesh,” a song released by Current Joys in January 2013 is an example of an old song being given a new life on TikTok largely owed to its usage in meme-making (TikTok 2019). The song, which has a nostalgic mood and sound reminiscent of 1980s new-wave rock, opens with the lyrics “I listened to the CureI watched the Videodrome,” is used in videos in which users put on vintage clothes, often from the 1980s, hairstyles, and dance moves all in an apparent allusion to the song’s own references to the 1980s and the decade’s characteristic synthesiser rich new-wave sound (Genius 2019). The song and this “generational time-warp” meme have been used in over 105,000 TikTok videos.

How Users Benefit and Attain Value from Co-creative Activity on TikTok

One may infer that users on TikTok are motivated by creation and receiving of values, and that these values are coordinated by the institution (TikTok). TikTok shares many similar features with other large platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, such as the ability to follow users, comment on content, or like/heart a piece of content—and these features play a prominent role in how users create and derive value-in-social-context (Edvardsson, Tronvoll, & Gruber 2010). Other research describes the ways in which users of social media derive and benefit from value-in-social-context. Eranti and Lonkila (2015) find that the Facebook like button has been used to regulate conversations, develop and maintain social relationships, signal acknowledgement of other users’ content, and to build and/or maintain face with others. Oh and Syn (2015) found that social media use is motivated by reciprocity, personal gain, altruism and social engagement. Nadkarni and Hofman (2012) performed a literature review and found that Facebook use is predominantly motived by the need to belong and the need for self-presentation. Again, considering Nuttall’s (2008) view concerning the importance of music in the lives of adolescents, one can begin to imagine how the younger demographic on TikTok benefits from co-creative activity. In addition to using social media for the purposes of satisfying these social-psychological needs, other evidence indicates that value generated from social media use may also have a deeper neurobiological basis in the human brain (Montag 2019). The same brain regions involved in “offline” social reward processing activities, such as giving and receiving positive feedback, are also likely involved in “online” social media use where users are involved in a steady flow of social-reward activities (Meshi, Tamir & Heekeren 2015). Cognitive neuroscientist Evaline Crone and media psychologist Elly Konjin argue that “social reward sensitivity may be a strong reinforcer in social media use” (Crone & Konjin 2018: 4), by pointing to evidence from a study which examined the ventral striatum region of the brain, a region which is “at the crossroads of neural networks that treat various aspects of reward processes and motivation” (Tremblay, Worbe & Hollerman 2009: 55). Using functional neuroimaging, this study finds that activity in this brain region “across participants, when responding to gains in reputation for the self, relative to observing gains for others, reward-related activity in the left nucleus accumbens [a part of the ventral striatum] predicts Facebook use” (Meshi, Morawetz & Heekeren 2015: 1).

Users as “Influencer” businesses

Value creation on the social media platforms is not limited to that of the social, psychological, or neurobiological type. Social media platforms generate and represent significant economic activity. The market capitalisation of Facebook was $566.67 billion USD as of 4 December 2019. Snapchat had a market capitalisation of $21billion USD on the same date. Users with followers on these platforms have built their businesses providing marketers with access to their audience; it has been estimated that in 2018, advertisers spent $1.6 billion USD on messages disseminated through these so-called influencers on Instagram alone, with the influencer marketing industry growing to $5–10 billion USD by 2020 (Mediakix 2018). These influencers essentially operate as business people who document their lives in exchange for money, and are considered to be “sellers, buyers, and commodities; they consume products and services; promote products and services; and sell themselves as a brand to be consumed by audiences” (Stoldt et al. 2019: 2). In this sense, influencers on the platform and musicians operate in an opaque, yet arguably business to business service-exchange in which all actors benefit; musicians provide the operand resources (music) to these actors (influencers) who use their own operant resources (knowledge and skills) to create video content, which is enabled by the institutional platform (TikTok) and its institutional arrangements. Such influencers are incentivised to create videos that engage their audience, generate viral activity such as likes or shares and increase their social presence (Rice 1993) among their audience. If the influencers are capable of building a level of trustworthiness and credibility with their audience, then they can, in theory, engage in marketing activities which are more effective than traditional celebrity endorsements (Jin, Muqaddam & Ryu 2019). These types of influencers will get the attention of marketers who may wish to use influencers as part of a social media marketing campaign. The result is a service ecosystem with “a configuration of people, technologies, and other resources that interact with other service systems to create mutual value” (Maglio et al. 2009: 395), where technologies may be equivocated with the institution that has been previously discussed (Vargo & Lusch 2016). Coarsely speaking, this service-exchange may be distilled to the following: music providers and marketers benefit by increasing the reach and exposure of their music; business-motivated influencers benefit by creating engaging content or exploiting trending memes or songs on TikTok; TikTok benefits by keeping users on its platform and delivering on its business model; and third-party marketers benefit by reaching their target audience through influencers. This process is represented in Figure 1.

Further, music providers are actors on the platform who benefit from financial, attentional and publicity value. I now present several anecdotes of music providers who have been beneficiaries of resource integration on the platform.

How Music Providers Benefit and Attain Value from Co-Creative Activity on TikTok

Stunna Girl is a 21 year-old rapper from Sacramento, California, who released a single called Runway on 22 February 2019 (Genius 2019). But it was not until late July of 2019 that she rapidly rose to stardom when, unknown to her, users on TikTok began using a clip of her song. The song seemed to be optimised for integration into TikTok users’ content. Runway opens with a string of lyrics streamlined to a beat drop that goes “b*tch, I look like I’m fresh off the runway (uh), b*itch, I go crazy the dumb way (uh), b*tches wanna be me, one day.” The #runwaychalleng, which uses the song, reportedly emerged virally on the platform and has over 18.6 million views as of 6 December 2019. The popularity of the challenge could be due to the lyrics connoting a strong sense of self-esteem that resonates with the young demographic of TikTok users, and that these users feel that they are empowered by both the words and the video content they make with them. Videos typically feature users confidently showing off their bodies like a model strutting on a runway. As a consequence, an 11 sclip of Runway had been used in over 3.3 million videos on TikTok as of 3 September 2019 (Strapagiel 2019). The #runwaychallenge purportedly helped to propel the song to the top five of Spotify’s US viral 50 chart on 31 July 2019, and remained there till 28 August 2019 (Genius 2019) and on that same day Stunna Girl reported that she signed a million dollar deal with Capital Music Group (Locker 2019).

Whether or not Stunna Girl’s strategy was to optimise her music for TikTok (it has been reported that she did not even know the platform existed before the song went viral), established firms in the music industry such as Capital Music Group seem to be aware of the platform’s ability to create stars (Locker 2019). Devain Doolaramani manages content creators on TikTok, such as @thebaileybaker, a bakery which makes cookie decoration videos, and claims to get “10 to 15 inquiries a day from artists and labels wanting to pay us to use their song” (Leight 2019). It has been reported that:

“…record labels approach Doolaramani with requests for his clients to make videos that use their artist’s tracks. Sometimes the labels just want him to enhance a trend that already exists, but other times they ask him to make the whole thing up from scratch. His biggest success came from the former. Someone had created a lyric prank video using [the artist] Russ’ [song] “Civil War” several weeks prior to Doolaramani starting his campaign. ‘So we decided to jump on that idea and it ended up absolutely tearing it up,’ [Doolaramani] remembers. There were around 340,000 videos made on TikTok, he reveals, and the challenge spread to Instagram and Twitter. The impact was immediate. Streams on the song, a month old at the start of the campaign, shot up from 20 million to around 48 million. And many YouTube comments referred to the prank videos.”

(Setaro 2019)

Rapid and global audiences

Possibly the most notable example of TikTok’s apparent role in catapulting musicians to sudden fame and large audiences is the previously mentioned rap/country artist Lil Nas X and his song Old Town Road. The 19 year-old college dropout from Atlanta, Georgia (real name Montero Lamar Hill), signed a record deal with Columbia in March 2019 after “an intense bidding war” (Chow 2019). A possible reason why? If you recall his #yeehaw challenge, which “spark[ed] a meme in which creators drink ‘Yee Yee Juice’ and change into western garb in time for the song’s drop” (Shafer 2019), there have been “millions of video creators us[ing] [Old Town Road] as a soundtrack to transform themselves into cowboys and cowgirls” (Chow 2019). As of 6 December 2019, there are over 207.1 million views of videos on TikTok which use the #yeehaw hashtag, 116.5 million views of videos which use #lilnasx and 4.6 million videos which directly use the sound clip of the song in the video. But Hill seemed to be aware of the value proposition inherent in his song, even if he originally wrote the lyrics based on personal meaning and the need to express himself. Describing the history of the song, Hill says:

“‘Old Town Road’ came after a period of feeling like I was out of options. I was living with my sister. She was pretty much fed up with me being there. That’s where the chorus lyric came from—it was me saying, ‘I want to leave everything behind’… I promoted the song as a meme for months until it caught on to TikTok and it became way bigger. I was pretty familiar with TikTok: I always thought its videos would be ironically hilarious. When I became a trending topic on there, it was a crazy moment for me. A lot of people will try to downplay it, but I saw it as something bigger.”

(Chow 2019)

The result is that Hill used a strategy to create a meme which challenges users to transform themselves into cowboys and cowgirls. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7yu-KMJ_iI for a compilation of this meme. This intentional marketing may be reflective of a clear understanding of the value proposition inherent in his songs, the co-creative activity on the TikTok platform, and how users generate content by integrating musical resources. While Hill’s public statements may be a post-hoc rationalisation of an uncontrollable viral emergence of the meme, other evidences indicates that he has grown up with the internet, social media, and had previously “traffick[ed] in memes, viral threads, [and] engagement bait” through his past experience in operating his own Twitter account (Feldman 2019) and that Hill has been “glued to the internet since adolescence… [seeking] refuge and community on social media” (Kennedy 2019). Hill released his independent version of Old Town Road in February 2019. But shortly after subsequent controversy which received much press attention, and then signing with Columbia, Hill performed a remix of the song with country musician Billy Ray Cyrus (Pearce 2019). Their remix remained #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for a record-breaking 19 consecutive weeks and has been on the chart for 39 straight weeks as of 6 December 2019 (Brelhan 2019).

A Ventura, California rapper named Kyle claims that his single “Hey Julie,” which has over 7 million YouTube views and over 25 million total streams, rose to popularity due to choreographed dances on TikTok. According to Kyle and his team, over 6.3 million TikTok videos have been uploaded using “Hey Julie” and over 120 million uploads use the #HeyJulie hashtag (Payne 2019). Kyle says that “I’ve always been a drama kid and this app [TikTok] is like a drama kid’s dream...I couldn’t even tell you who the very first person was who made the dance up. I wish I could find that kid.” (Payne 2019).

Other music producers discuss about how they are now making music considering how TiKTok users will integrate the music and relate to a song’s value proposition. After a successful collaboration with TikTok user Andre Swiller, Australian producer Adam Friedman said he:

plan[s] to produce these songs, purely with the intention of blowing up on TikTok. I want to write the catchiest songs with lyrics completely designed to be mimicked, things that have hand movements…we have this one song that Andre is about to go into the studio for this week and it’s 15 s, the lyrics are like ‘waving goodbye’, ‘hope she calls back’, ‘her body is like...’, you know, movements you can do with your hands.

(Lal 2019)

Apart from using TikTok to acquire talent and perform artist and repertoire (A&R) work, record labels are also using the platform as a deliberate marketing strategy to promote their existing artists and music catalogue. And this may be due to their acknowledgement of how the user driven resource integration and co-creation on the platform is powerful and also good business. Zac Abroms, a project manager for music publisher and distributor eOne, reflected upon the success of British music producer Riton’s collaboration with Nigerian singer/songwriter Kah-Lo, whose song Fake I.D. has been used in over 1.7 million videos on TikTok:

Last year Riton & Kah-Lo’s record label did a sync deal with [TikTok]…part of that arrangement was that ‘Fake I.D.’ would be featured prominently within — essentially at the top of — TikTok playlists in the hope that influential users would incorporate it within their videos. To that end it was strategic but what followed was completely user-driven, to the tune of over two million videos.

(Lal 2019)

Old songs receive new life

Not only new songs are used on TikTok. There are numerous examples of older songs which have been given a new breath of life on TikTok. As Jeff Vaughn, VP of A&R at Artist Partner Group told Rolling Stone, “we’ve got songs in our catalogue that are popping up into the Top Ten, Top 20 on TikTok for no reason other than people are using it… it is causing us to go back and work some of those records, put more resources behind them” (Leight 2019). To provide further illustration of how co-creative activity, resource integration and value co-creation on the platform are integrating “old” songs, the following are few of examples.

“Dissolve”—Absofacto

Absofacto (real name Jonathan Visger) originally released “Dissolve” on 19 February 2015. The popularity of the song on the TikTok platform was, apparently, not due to the result of a deliberate strategy. According to Billboard:

“It all began when a friend sent Visger a message saying his song was going viral on the app. Visger, who didn’t yet know what TikTok was, downloaded the app and took a look. The main meme, or challenge, entailed people making their mirror look like a portal, falling through as the specific lines (“I just wanted you to watch me dissolve/Slowly”) played. At that point, he remembers that there were “maybe thirty or forty thousand videos using it.”

(Ginsberg 2019)

As of 12 December 2019 the song has been used in approximately 1.1 million videos on TikTok. Users integrated the song via lip-syncs, dances, and other types of memes. One example of such a meme is what some call the “mirror move,” in which users film themselves briefly in a mirror, then quickly move the camera either up, down, left, or right, then quickly edit in another view of them when filming themselves in a mirror. However, in the subsequent views of them, something about their physical appearance has changed. Other times, users move the camera down to create the illusion that users are falling through a series of floors. A compilation video of TikTok activity which shows this meme and other memes can be found on YouTube (Absofacto 2019). On 27 July 2019, Absofacto charted on Billboard for the first time (#29 on the Alternative Songs Chart). “Dissolve” had 67.4 million streams as of July 2019, according to Nielsen and Ginsberg (Ginsberg 2019), and spent several weeks at #1 on the Alt18 Most Requested Countdown.

“Spooky Scary Skeletons”—Andrew Gold

Andrew Gold originally released “Spooky Scary Skeletons” in 1996. Yet, as recounted in New York Magazine:

“A fortuitous chain of events has led “Spooky Scary Skeletons” become a megaviral TikTok meme. It even has its own dance, created by user @minecrafter2011. There are, as of [October 16, 2019], 2,537,466 posts on TikTok featuring the track, and if you need help with the dance, you can find plenty of tutorials on YouTube.”

(Feldman 2019)

Exactly how the 23-year-old song has been integrated and used by users of TikTok is also covered by Rolling Stone. As Dickson writes, users post:

“… TikToks of themselves doing a highly choreographed dance to an insanely catchy dubstep remix of a song called “Spooky Scary Skeletons.” The dance itself is a bit comparable to the Chicken Noodle Dance, albeit jauntier, sexier, and more spasmodic. Some, such as Ellen Show staffers who recently posted a version on the show’s TikTok, are attempting the dance in full-blown skeleton costume; others take a more minimalist approach. An 11-s segment of the song has been featured in about 2.2 million videos, and the #spookydance hashtag has about 243.1 million views.”

(Dickson 2019)

“Ride It”—Jay Sean, DJ Regard remix

Jay Sean originally released “Ride It” in January of 2008. Though the song was initially a success and according to the artist, the one market in which it wasn’t so successful was the United States. However, 10 years later and with a remix by DJ regard, Rolling Stone reports that:

“…now “Ride It” is getting a second chance [in the US]: A house remix by Regard — tempo pushed higher, vocals pitched lower, but otherwise faithful to the original… is popular on the video app TikTok: All summer, users have been soundtracking clips with Regard’s remix, which has been put in more than two million videos.”

(Leight 2019)

Users integrate the song in many ways, may be through a dance or playing off the lyrical content (like a video of a small capuchin monkey riding a running Saint Bernard dog at an NFL football game). Over 2.7 million videos on TikTok use DJ Regard’s remix of “Ride It”; and in August 2019, the remix debuted on the UK singles chart and topped the Spotify viral chart in the US (Leight 2019).

Irrespective of the degree by which music producers and music industry actors like record labels deliberately create and promote music while contemplating how users will use the music on TikTok, these examples show that users on the platform generate content by intentionally considering the value proposition of each song (whether it is the lyrics, chorus, the beat, the title, or other musical elements) and use it as a resource to integrate it into their video. As a helpful summary, Table 1 provides a review of this discussion with examples of actors, co-creative activities, and the co-creation and exchange of value on the TikTok platform.

Examples of actors, co-creative activities, and types of values exchanged on the TikTok platform.

Actor on TikTok Essence of co-creative activities Co-Creation and exchange of value
Music Providers Make value propositions through melodic, lyrical, cultural and other musical properties of their songs, and make musical content available as a resource for user integration in content Values given to others: Musical resource value; symbolic, cultural and brand affinity associated with musical artist; content inspirational values, like psychomotor motivational value (i.e., giving cues on how users can dance to a song); potential tribal coalition signalling value Value attained from others: Increased audience exposure to music in terms of both reach, scope and the amount of time music is heard; Licensing and royalty payments from TikTok; Song resurrection value, where old songs receive new life; Potential spillover value, where users search for or listen to music on other platforms (i.e., Spotify or YouTube)
TikTok Users Consider the value propositions of songs, and integrate musical resources in their generation of content on TikTok through a variety of means (such as dances, lip-syncs, memes, challenges) Values given to others: Entertainment value; content value; attentional value; viral dissemination value; social psychological value (i.e., through reciprocity mechanisms)Values attained from others: attentional value; entertainment value; influencer value; neurobiological value; social psychological value (i.e., through reciprocity mechanisms)
TikTok Platform (ByteDance Ltd.) Creates technological and institutional infrastructure which enables and constrains action of users and music providers on the platform Values given to others: technological and institutional infrastructure of the platform; royalties and licensing from music providers; social network value; audience exposure value; creation of a context for value-in-social-contextValues attained from others: attentional value; attentional control value; commercial and computational value from user behavioural data; market capitalisation; ability to monetise user attention
Implications for Research and Practice

Going back to our story about Tiffany and Dan—perhaps the year in which they met at that concert was 1980. But what if the year was 2020—would they have met over TikTok instead, and started a conversation through direct messages? Music is an essential and perfect resource which brings people together on TikTok. Whether it may be at a concert or over the internet, it is difficult to discredit the view that music fundamentally provides a service of bringing people together—and this service is the basis of exchange between multiple actors. I have provided evidence that demonstrates how users on TikTok respond to value propositions made by music providers and integrate musical resources into their user generated content. Both the users and music providers, in turn, receive benefits and attain various types of value from this co-creative activity. I have also provided a few anecdotal examples of new artists who have achieved rapid stardom and also the old songs which have become popular again. This evidence should be indicative of the size, magnitude and effect of the value attained from S-D logic in the music industry. Further, there are a few implications for both research and practice resulting from this study.

First, the case presented supports the view that actors in the music industry should, if they aren’t already, actively monitor technological changes and consider how people adopt and use technology. The development of the TikTok platform is an example of one such change, and early adopters (like Lil Nas X) who are purported to have considered what this change meant did so to their benefit and advantage. Second, those music providers who continue to characterise music as a “product” and audience as “consumers” may do so at the risk of overlooking the fundamental nature of a service-exchange which is happening between themselves and the people who listen to the music they provide; surely, there may be some space for a unidirectional push of musical product to “consumers,” but anyone who has visited Argentina knows it takes two to tango. Third, TikTok is not the only platform in which music providers can co-create with users through features and activities. Platforms which provide similar functionality to encourage user interaction and resource integration include Instagram (via Reels), Triller, Dubsmash and StarMaker, among others. The observed tendency for users to integrate music in their content (via dances, challenges, lip-syncing and memes) in an effort to capture their own value-in-social-context may continue beyond the existence of TikTok. Indeed, TikTok’s continued existence in one large market, the United States, has recently come under scrutiny and question as US President Donald J. Trump has attempted to ban the platform from the US and force a divestiture of ownership from ByteDance Ltd. But, as of 16 September 2020, ByteDance has apparently reached a deal to continue operations in the US by partnering with US software company Oracle (Swanson, McCabe & Hirsch 2020; White House, 2020a, 2020b). Notably, India has banned TikTok from operating in its country in June 2020 (Abi-Habib 2020). These developments raise interesting questions as to what role governments, policies and legal frameworks may have to the relation to both service ecosystems and platforms such as TikTok. Such investigations might explore the consequences of such political decisions may have on actors like music providers who have pursued marketing strategies around a given platform. These questions could make a contribution to the broader theoretical literature in S-D logic. Irrespective of what impacts this change of ownership or ban of TikTok might have, and including the subsequent changes of the platform’s governing mechanisms that influence how music providers and users can interact, the case presented in this study shows that S-D logic is a useful perspective through which one can understand the music marketing strategy.

Fourth, this case provides a clear example of how users and music providers are co-creating value on the TikTok platform—and in this case, one apparent type of value created is value-in-social-context. But, this is just one type of value guiding and shaping action on the platform. There is a attentional value which music providers receive as their music is used and listened for millions of time in content; also, there is a monetary value music providers receive depending upon the terms of their licensing agreement with ByteDance Ltd; the brand awareness value marketers receive in strategic influencer content and the money influencers make from those relationships; and there is the neurobiological value which average users may derive from sharing their content and receiving likes through reciprocity mechanisms. Then, of course, there is a significant commercial value that ByteDance generates for itself as the platform upon which all of these activities occur. It is important to note, again, that TikTok is not the only music platform which exists today. Spotify, as an example of a music streaming platform, shows how users create and generate other types of value—whether it’s the social-relational value of sharing a playlist with someone you’ve just met (maybe Tiffany shares her favourite playlist with Dan?) or whether it is the motivational, emotional value of using one of Spotify’s many mood or activity-based playlists (Skog, Wimelius & Sandberg 2018). Additionally, future research should look into whether there exists “micro-platformization” on TikTok, similar to the multichannel networks or third-party agencies which have been observed on YouTube (Hutchinson 2019). Indeed, if this indeed is happening on TikTok, what may be the role of these micro platforms and the actors within them on helping music providers to create value on TikTok? How would incentives and values valued by a micro platform, such as an agency controlling a network of influencers on TikTok, affect other actors in the service ecosystem?

Lastly, by using the TikTok platform as a subject (Thomas 2011), this case study has shown that S-D logic is an appropriate theoretical lens through which how music marketing can be examined. While it was not the aim of this study to thoroughly investigate the role of the platform’s owner (ByteDance Ltd.), nor the creation and adjustment of the algorithms and functionality which govern how users and music providers interact on the platform, the influence of these governing instruments (Poell, Nieborg, & Van Dijck 2019) could be a promising topic for another study. Theorists (Breidbach & Brodie 2016) within the S-D logic literature have elsewhere noted the enabling role these platforms have in service ecosystems. Lusch and Nambisan (2015) have argued that these digital service platforms, such as TikTok, enable value-co creation by guaranteeing a form of “resource liquefaction and resource density” (Lusch & Nambisan, 2015: 163). This then, in turn, arguably helps users to provide and accept value propositions (Gawer 2014). But what influence can the platform, via its governing instruments and decisions to maximise its own interests and appropriate value, have in controlling the “flow” and “character” of these resources? For example, just like music providers and users on the platform, TikTok can generate its own value propositions and challenges and issue them to users, who can then respond to TikTok by making new content. Not only can TikTok decide to give their own challenges preferential placement in a user’s algorithmic feed and thus control the “flow” of resources in addition to controlling the “character” of it by determining what the challenge actually is, they can also use the data as input to train their own machine learning models in an effort to extract their own value from the service ecosystem and platform. Further, the case described in this paper makes a theoretical contribution to the literature on S-D logic by making a clear observation of the influence of platforms in service dynamics. Indeed, TikTok may be an example of so-called platformisation in which “infrastructures, economic processes and governmental frameworks of platforms [penetrate] different economic sectors and spheres of life” (Poell, Nieborg, & Van Dijck 2019). Interestingly enough, Poell, Nieborg, & Van Dijck (2019) view this process of platformisation as one which entails the “reorganisation of cultural practices and imaginations around platforms.” Based on the descriptions in this study, one could see how certain cultural practices of users and their imaginations are being reorganised around the TikTok platform. But further investigation into how these platformisation processes affect not only cultural practices, but actors, such as businesses and music providers, outside of a specific platform is an avenue of future research as new platforms and technologies emerge. Regardless of TikTok’s future, this type of reorganisation of imagination will continue along with new platforms—and with them, new opportunities to pursue music marketing strategies.

Figure 1

The process of value co-creation on TikTok.
The process of value co-creation on TikTok.

Examples of actors, co-creative activities, and types of values exchanged on the TikTok platform.

Actor on TikTok Essence of co-creative activities Co-Creation and exchange of value
Music Providers Make value propositions through melodic, lyrical, cultural and other musical properties of their songs, and make musical content available as a resource for user integration in content Values given to others: Musical resource value; symbolic, cultural and brand affinity associated with musical artist; content inspirational values, like psychomotor motivational value (i.e., giving cues on how users can dance to a song); potential tribal coalition signalling value Value attained from others: Increased audience exposure to music in terms of both reach, scope and the amount of time music is heard; Licensing and royalty payments from TikTok; Song resurrection value, where old songs receive new life; Potential spillover value, where users search for or listen to music on other platforms (i.e., Spotify or YouTube)
TikTok Users Consider the value propositions of songs, and integrate musical resources in their generation of content on TikTok through a variety of means (such as dances, lip-syncs, memes, challenges) Values given to others: Entertainment value; content value; attentional value; viral dissemination value; social psychological value (i.e., through reciprocity mechanisms)Values attained from others: attentional value; entertainment value; influencer value; neurobiological value; social psychological value (i.e., through reciprocity mechanisms)
TikTok Platform (ByteDance Ltd.) Creates technological and institutional infrastructure which enables and constrains action of users and music providers on the platform Values given to others: technological and institutional infrastructure of the platform; royalties and licensing from music providers; social network value; audience exposure value; creation of a context for value-in-social-contextValues attained from others: attentional value; attentional control value; commercial and computational value from user behavioural data; market capitalisation; ability to monetise user attention

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