Inside the Short-Form Video Wars with Tati Cirisano

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TikTok vs Shorts vs Reels

In this week’s episode, we kicked things off by giving props to the short-form video OG, Vine. The best Vine creators could tell an entire story in 6 seconds or less. It was impressive. Unfortunately, Twitter’s 2012 acquisition of Vine left a lot to be desired for the app that shut down in 2016.

But Vine paved the way for TikTok, YouTube and Meta to be where they are today.

TikTok’s cultural cache

Trends start on TikTok and then trickle down to its competitors. When artists prioritize their promotional strategy, it often starts on TikTok. When a song goes viral from short-form video, it most likely goes viral on TikTok first. We’ve all seen TikTok videos repurposed and reshared on other social media formats. But it’s rarer to see other short-form videos repurposed for TikTok.

TikTok is the Bentley of short-form video. Right now, the other platforms are Chrysler 300s. Like Katt Williams would say,

“They do look like a Phantom… until a Phantom pull up.”

In our podcast episode The Short Form Video Wars, MIDiA Research’s Tati Cirisano points out that TikTok considers itself an entertainment platform, not a social media network. On social media, users can run out of content if their followers don’t post enough. We’ve all seen the infamous (yet shameful) “You’re up to date!” notification on Instagram.

That doesn’t exist on TikTok. The algorithm and it’s For You page thrive on the endless scroll of its most engaged users. It’s like watching MTV in the 90s. There was always something on.

But this generation’s MTV still has its threats. The Biden administration wants ByteDance to sell the company to a U.S. firm. The “TikTok ban” talk has been ongoing for three years now, but pressure seems to mount each day.

Listen to the full episode or read below for more.

YouTube Shorts’ ecosystem is its strength

In January, YouTube’s head of music Lyor Cohen made a strong statement about the format in an interview with Music Business Worldwide:

“Short-form video that doesn’t lead anywhere is the most dangerous thing I’ve seen the music business face in a long time.”

He didn’t say TikTok by name, but the message was loud and clear. TikTok’s music discovery doesn’t directly lead to music listening on the platform. It’s working on that, with Resso and the future launch of TikTok Music, but it’s not there yet. It makes sense for TikTok to enter this space, but it may be tough.

Meanwhile, both YouTube and Meta have ecosystems beyond their endless scrolls. YouTube is one of the best community-building platforms on any social media platform. Lyor’s pitch is that YouTube Shorts is a funnel to full-length YouTube music videos and songs with less friction. Users don’t have to leave one app and open another. The logic makes sense but I would love to see data.

For instance, I wish we could compare short-form video to streaming platform pipelines. Which would have the highest conversion rate of video views to music streams: TikTok to Spotify, or YouTube Shorts to YouTube?

The potential downside for Shorts stems back to TikTok’s advantage. TikTok has grown to 1 billion-plus monthly active users by creating loyalty to the platform as the destination, not necessarily the creator. To be clear, many creators have succeeded on TikTok, but this is more about its macro positioning.  Meanwhile, Shorts and Reels live within platforms that are more creator-friendly. It may be hard to do both well.

Meta’s ability to drive revenue

Facebook and Instagram Reels are two of many products under the Meta umbrella. But Meta’s strength on its social networks is its ability to monetize.

Sometimes those ads are too aggressive, especially on Instagram, but they can potentially lead to higher ROI than either TikTok or Shorts.

In the episode, instead of picking a “winner,” we asked a three-part question. Which company adds the most value for:

–  Artists and creators?

–  The music industry?

–  Its parent company?

We decided that TikTok was most valuable to artists and creators given its massive reach and cultural cache. YouTube Shorts is the one that’s most valuable to music since strong agreements are in place, and YouTube is proud of the billions it pays to the industry. And we concluded with Reels being most valuable for its parent company.

In the rest of the episode, we discussed:

–  active vs passive listening and watching

–  will there be a new dominant platform in 5 years

–  potential strengths and pitfalls for each company

Listen to the full episode here

[02:59] Vine paved the way for short-form video

[05:56] TikTok filled void in social media

[06:53] Factors behind TikTok’s success

[10:19] TikTok is an entertainment platform, not social 

[13:20] Potential pitfalls for TikTok 

[23:10] YouTube’s biggest advantages 

[25:53] Overlap between YouTube’s short-form and long-form audiences

[29:37] Facebook and Instagram Reels are picking up steam

[35:19] Instagram Reels more natural to the platform than YT Shorts

[35:35] Meta’s advertising is both a pro and a con

[36:39] Active creator vs. passive watcher user bases

[38:35] In what scenario does TikTok lose top spot in short-form video war?

[41:50] Best platform for artists?

[43:08] Best platform for record labels?

[44:05] Best monetized platform?

[47:11] Will there be a new form of content consumption in the next five years?


[00:00:00] Tatiana Cirisano: One of my pros to talk about something that I’ve just, I don’t know if this is still true, but something that I’ve heard from marketers, music marketers in the past is that, Instagram just has more trust with brands than TikTok and other platforms that are new because they’ve been using it for so long.

[00:00:13] They know what the deal is like. It just has, better relationships in that respect. but if that’s also leading to more ads on the platform, then it’s kind of a pro and a con. 

[00:00:42] Dan Runcie: All right, today we have a jam packed episode that is about the short form video wars, which platform will come out on top. And I’m joined by none other than Tati Cirisano from Video Research. Welcome.

[00:00:55] Tatiana Cirisano: Thanks Dan. Good to be back. Thanks for entertaining another rant of mine, 

[00:01:00] Dan Runcie: No, this is good. And with what you write about what you cover, you’re the perfect person to have this conversation with. There has been so much focus as anyone listening to this podcast, who knows about the influence of short form video, what it does for discovery, for music, for artists, how record labels and all these companies are tackling it.

[00:01:19] Now we have several companies that are vying for that spot with similar but different products. But before we jump into TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram, I feel like we gotta give props where it is and give a shout out to Vine because I don’t know if we were to be here if it weren’t for Vine paving the way, so, oh, gone too soon. 

[00:01:41] Tatiana Cirisano: you’re giving me flashbacks to the Water Malone guy. I don’t know if anyone else is gonna remember that, but the specific things that went viral on that platform. Oh God,yeah. We have to give the shout out to Vine.

[00:01:53] Dan Runcie: It was the perfect example of constraints, breeding, creativity, six, seven, second videos, and people had whole narratives of storytelling there. It was so unique to see what people were able to do. I feel like at its peak I saw it was 200 million monthly active users, which obviously is a drop in the bucket compared to the services we’re about to talk about.

[00:02:17] But at that moment, that felt huge. It really was the platform. And obviously I know that Twitter had other objectives and things there, but. It’s almost like a little too early as well. I just don’t know if culture was like right there. And even music itself with artists, I feel like there was a lot of influencers, but there’s a few artists, but not as many that really tapped in where it was really a huge discovery platform.

[00:02:41] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, and I think also like people weren’t so comfortable with creating content at that time, or it wasn’t something that was like so readily available. Like now I feel like every teenager just kind of create, thinks of creating content as, you know, just part of the social toolbox. Or maybe they want to be a content creator and that’s, you know, that’s like a sort of a new aspiration.

[00:03:02] But I think at the time of Vine, maybe that’s another reason it didn’t pop off, is it wasn’t like the consumer behavior wasn’t there. There were some people that loved to make videos, but I think most people were just watching.

[00:03:11] Dan Runcie: Right, and I feel like too, the people that really popped off on that platform, They never quite got as big as some of the people that are on the platforms. We’re gonna talk about, thinking about whether, you know, you mentioned someone where thinking about Alphacat or like King Bach, some of the others that were big there, and I know they had moments, but again, it was almost a little bit ahead of its time in terms of them being able to really take off the way things did in the late 2010s and ever.

[00:03:39] Tatiana Cirisano: Mm. I’m also trying to remember now because one of the major things that usually comes up for me talking about like why TikTok was so impactful is how it’s such, it was such a big deal that it opened to the for you page instead of like a feed of people, content from people you already know. But in my mind, it was kind of like the first major social media platform to do that.

[00:03:59] But was Vine actually the first, I don’t remember how the feed worked. Was it people you followed or was it just random?

[00:04:05] Dan Runcie: I forget. That’s a good point. I forget someone listening probably will ping back and say that, oh, it was this way. But yeah, I completely forget. I feel like I remember there are videos I knew from people that I would go back and follow cause they easily wanted to go watch it. But yeah, I completely forget. And even if it was there, I don’t think the algorithm had quite enough content to be able to make that happen.

[00:04:27] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, that’s true. But yeah, the history is really interesting cuz you had Vine and then Twitter shut it down and there was kind of this void for people that loved the platform not having something similar. And then musically came around, but it wasn’t really the same. It was kind of all focused on lip syncing.

[00:04:44] It wasn’t, you know, people just making random videos. and I feel like it also had kind of a younger audience, like it was more like middle schoolers than high schoolers. And it just kind of didn’t have that same, it didn’t reach like the critical mass of, no offense to middle schoolers, but like it didn’t have that cool factor

[00:05:02] so it’s interesting like that happened. And then the timing is so important because I feel like we can’t ignore the fact that TikTok launched in the US a few years before the pandemic and kind of reached that critical mass of users right when Lockdowns began. so yeah, I’m glad that you started with Vine cause I think the history is really important to look at.

[00:05:24] Dan Runcie: Yeah, and I think the TikTok piece is unique because before TikTok ends up launching in the US, Instagram and Snapchat have stories, which obviously isn’t the same as what we’re gonna talk about with Instagram having reels. But that vertical video, and I believe that when Instagram first came out, it was 15 seconds, I believe was the limit.

[00:05:44] So there was a bit of that trying to copy what Vine was doing to that extent. But then TikTok comes up with, you know, an entirely new platform. And I feel like the concept of a TikTok post is what then brings you to it’s, For You page, and just [00:06:00] having that endless content role. Which a reel is, but a Instagram story or even a Snapchat story I tried to do at points, but never quite got there, which is why Instagram and Facebook more broadly has tried to make a pivot into that.

[00:06:15] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah. And it was more about like from music’s perspective, it was about users engaging with the music that they’re fans of like when TikTok first started to blow up in 2020, it was all dance challenges. It was all people kind of putting their own spin on the songs that they loved, and I feel like that’s also different from stories and like the other sort of video, sort of short form video, tools that we had before where it was maybe about

[00:06:40] sharing music, but it wasn’t about actually engaging with it and putting your own spin on it. And I think that was the other thing that TikTok did that was really powerful from the music discovery standpoint, is inviting people to actually put their own spin on the things that they love.

[00:06:54] Dan Runcie: Right. There was a culture that was created around the music and around the content [00:07:00] generation that did not exist in those platforms, right? Like to your point, yeah, you could have had music playing while you’re sharing some video that you naturally wouldn’t have wanted to share on your Instagram feed, but that wasn’t the same as trying to do your own rendition of Old Town Road, right?

[00:07:17] Tatiana Cirisano: And there weren’t trends like TikTok is so trends focused, which is a key reason why songs tend to go viral on the platform. So, yeah.

[00:07:26] Dan Runcie: Yeah. And on that note, we should dive into it. So for everyone listening, there’s three companies that will do our breakdown on, so TikTok Meta. and YouTube and what they’re doing respectively in short form video. And on that note, let’s start with TikTok and just highlight some of the pros and cons there.

[00:07:43] And I think we talked about a few of them, the cultureyou also talked about just the likelihood of users themselves wanting to engage and create in a way that they wouldn’t on others before that, what are some other things that stand out about, like why TikTok has been able to have a strong position here.[00:08:00] 

[00:08:00] Tatiana Cirisano: I mean, definitely their algorithm, their algorithm is scary good.I know a lot of people will say like, oh, TikTok knows me better than I know myself. And it’s true, I get recommendations that are so hyper-specific. and if, you know, it’s such a major tool for discovery for that reason.

[00:08:16] It’s not just showing you things, it’s showing you things that you will probably like. So I think, TikTok’s algorithm is a huge pro for them. but I also think. at this point, aside from the algorithms, all of these platforms pretty much look the same or have the same user experience. I don’t know as much from the creation standpoint in terms of like video editing tools, but from the consumer standpoint, they’re all pretty similar.

[00:08:40] So I think at that point, the thing that will differentiate you is the culture, and I think TikTok just has a lot more cultural capital than shorts and reels do, maybe because it was first, like so many trends tend to start on TikTok and then trickle down to the other platforms, to the point where I remember like a year ago [00:09:00] or months ago, there were so many reels, users posting TikTok videos that still had the TikTok watermark that reels actually deprioritize them in the algorithm to like try to get people to not do that.

[00:09:11] So I think it’s something that’s hard to measure and can change very quickly, but right now I think the cultural capital is with TikTok and that’s a huge pro for them.

[00:09:22] Dan Runcie: Right when you’re the dominant player, when people are watching videos on other platforms and they’re repurposed for yours, that’s when you know, we rarely see the opposite of that happen with TikTok and that speaks to it, right? I feel like the other part of where TikTok, I think just stands strong and further proof of that cultural piece is, I think back to the analogy I know that I’ve said, and others have said about how TikTok is the new MTV and just in terms of its cultural influence on where people find things, and even though it’s not the only place that is that artists or, [00:10:00] creators can post short from videos, it’s similar in that even back in the MTV days, MTV wasn’t the only place that posted and released music videos. You could watch them on VH1, you could watch them on BET.

[00:10:13] There were other channels that had it. And while I do think that, at least with BET specifically, there was a culture around there specifically for the black audience and a lot of the people that were interested in those artists themselves. The MTV itself was able to have a bit of this more like mainstream pop rock aspect that also they were able to reach into.

[00:10:35] And I think even if you look at VH1, I think that trended a bit older. So even though I think there was still success to be had with some of those other areas, you still saw that MTV ended up still being seen as the dominant player, clearly not to everyone. I think that, as I mentioned, you know, BET still was more relevant to some audiences than others, and I feel like.

[00:10:55] There may be some of that. could be true with the short form video aspect too, where I feel [00:11:00] like TikTok is still the dominant player, but are there certain types of users that may be more likely to find success on YouTube shorts or Instagram reels? I don’t know if that’s necessarily true yet, just because and we can talk about this.

[00:11:13] I don’t know if we see the same breakdowns there, but that’s one thing that I was thinking about as well. Even if you are the main cultural place, are the other areas finding their own folks.

[00:11:23] Tatiana Cirisano: Totally. No, and I wanna, think about that question of what platforms benefit, which artists. But you also just reminded me of something else cuz of your comparison to MTV, which is that TikTok considers itself an entertainment platform, not a social platform. And that’s so key to me.

[00:11:39] And so interesting, like you’ll see even in, in news articles and interviews, people will call it social platform and you know, the CEO or whoever’s being interviewed will say, no, no, no, no, no, back up because we are an entertainment platform. And that’s really different. I think, you know, YouTube shorts is a bit similar because most people don’t go to YouTube or social.

[00:11:58] They go there to again, like be [00:12:00] entertained. But that’s something that pits it sort of, or puts it in a different playing field, I guess, than something like reels because people have usually gone to Instagram to see content from people that they know, to the point where when Instagram like introduced a, you know, a TikTok like feed, a lot of people are like, I don’t want this.

[00:12:15] I wanna see what my friends are doing. and I think that’s changed over time with like influencer culture like I definitely follow a lot of people that I don’t know at all. But in general, you know, these other spaces that might try and launch short formm video like Instagram are social platforms that people use for social reasons, and TikTok kind of puts itself in a different playing field by labeling itself as an entertainment platform, which also kind of, I think one of the benefits to that for them is, you know, I think it’s part of the reason that people spend so much time on TikTok like there are stats for the average amount of time people spend on the app is ridiculous. It’s something like an hour, like nobody does that in one sitting on Instagram, and it’s probably because you run out of content.

[00:12:57] If you’re following a certain number of people, [00:13:00] I run out of, you know, stories to watch or people’s content to view. There’s only so much you can get out of a social platform like that. But with TikTok, if you’re there for entertainment, you can scroll forever. I’ve done it . So, you know, I think that’s a key distinction.

[00:13:13] Dan Runcie: Yeah, that’s a great pro and I think we can talk a little bit more about that when we talk about like who wins out, whether it’s, you know, platform versus artist versus company. But, cause I feel like there’s a tie in with that too. But that’s a great point. What do you think some of the cons are about TikTok?

[00:13:28] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah. I mean, I think the kind of obvious one is the threat of it being banned. but I don’t know that’s an interesting one because I feel like it’s not talked about that much. It’s always kind of an aside, and a potential, but it’s unclear whether that could actually happen. what might end up being a bigger inhibitor is just the attitudes that that inspires like if parents are like, oh, the government might is trying to ban TikTok, it must be bad, let me tell my kid they’re not allowed to [00:14:00] use it like I think the perceptions that people have about the app and their safety on it, they might be influenced enough by the threat of a band to be scared of using it.

[00:14:08] Like I know some people that kind of feel freaked out by it. so I think that could be a real threat or it could be an imagined one, but it could have impact either way.

[00:14:17] Dan Runcie: I thought a lot about the threat piece. I think the most likely scenario would be that it’s similar to the discussions that we saw three years ago, where is there a US company that would potentially take over TikTok us and could that be the outcome? I know that a lot of that had pretty much died down with the US presidency transfer of power, and those discussions stopped.

[00:14:40] But I do feel like if anything I could see that, likely happening as opposed to a full on ban. We’ll see though. I mean, because I feel like that could address some of the concerns. Hopefully if that happens, we’ll see how whatever company that runs it would go about managing it. But that’s how I see that piece of it, particularly playing out.[00:15:00] 

[00:15:00] The other con that I’ve thought a lot about is, it’s something Lyor Cohen, who runs YouTube, or at least he runs YouTube music, has talked about, he did an interview in, music business worldwide a couple months back, and he has, and I quote, he says, “Short form video that doesn’t lead anywhere is the most dangerous thing I’ve seen in the music business in a long time.”

[00:15:23] A lot of people are very familiar because it was one of those quotes where he didn’t say the company, but everyone knew he was talking about TikTok. And the thing is, many of us know that TikTok is avidly trying to build up has its distribution service, but it’s trying to build up its own streaming service so that traffic can go somewhere and that it can do that.

[00:15:42] It already has RESO in other countries, but it’s actively trying to do that in the us but it still hasn’t been able to do that. We know it. These are very cost intensive things to be able to do and do, right? I think it’s worth talking about whether or not we think that is as big of a threat as positioned, but I do know that [00:16:00] that is one of the conceptions out there that you have this top of funnel that doesn’t directly lead anywhere.

[00:16:05] So if you are obviously, record labels and others are tracking the pipeline of TikTok data that then leads to streams and things like that. But is the fact that that is a non-connected platform, at least the way it lives today, is that a risk in your eyes or a con?

[00:16:24] Tatiana Cirisano: I think it is a risk. I mean, I think that issue is getting worse. I feel like I brought this up maybe on another podcast we did too, but the fact that the same things that made TikTok so powerful, like having this for you page and having such a good algorithm also means that it’s a completely lean back experience.

[00:16:42] I don’t have to follow anyone on the app. I don’t have to take any actions at all. All I have to do is open it and keep scrolling. So there’s very little motivation to follow anyone. So that goes for content creators, but it also goes for artists who are trying to, you know, actually build and retain long-term fans, rather [00:17:00] than just having a hit go viral on the platform, maybe it translates to a streaming bump and that’s the end of it.

[00:17:05] so I think that that is a bit of a threat. there’s something else I was gonna say about that too. oh, that I think another point in all of this is, these platforms are no longer just competing for users. They’re competing for creators because that’s who’s actually supplying the content, especially if you’re an entertainment platform.

[00:17:22] TikTok is kind of like, if Netflix was like, we’re not gonna actually create any movies, we’re just gonna have users upload their own, you know, like the users are supplying the content, the creators are who they need, and they need to appeal to them. So I think if enough creators get frustrated with feeling like they can’t build a following on TikTok, musicians include, they might try migrating to a different service, and maybe if other services can do that better, they’ll stay there.

[00:17:46] So I think for that reason, it is a risk yeah, it’s clear. I think it is something that TikTok is thinking about.

[00:17:52] Dan Runcie: Yeah, It does need to be acknowledged. I think as I’ve thought about this a few ways, I think that the challenge that was presented by [00:18:00] Lyor would imply that there is a higher conversion rate from YouTube shorts to YouTube, and that they have the data to be able to prove that. Theoretically, I do think that that makes sense in terms of absolute numbers though, it would be very interesting to see how many streams absolute it actually leads to, just given how much more massive TikTok is relative to YouTube shorts in terms of just the amount of people actually watching videos on that platform on a regular basis.

[00:18:29] And I think the other cod with YouTube, just to underscore something you had said was that, if artists themselves, or whether it’s more broadly creators do start to feel like they’re being more marginalized on the entertainment platform, where their name gets smaller and smaller and it’s less important about who they are, and it’s more important that they are just someone that is providing content on this platform, then they may be more likely to go some.

[00:18:56] Like a YouTube, which we could transition into now, but go more sort like a [00:19:00] YouTube, which has tried a position itself as more friendly to its business partners as opposed to primarily itself.

[00:19:07] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah. And I mean, TikTok is, presumably trying to prove right now that it doesn’t need music as much, the music industry believes with the kind of experiment they’re doing in Australia. So I think that, relationship aspect is really important to all of this.

[00:19:22] Dan Runcie: Yeah. And then one last thought on TikTok too that this just made me think of. I know a couple weeks ago, Snoop Dogg had re-released the Death Row Records catalog, at least the album he owns. Exclusively on TikTok. it was a window wink thing one week before he released it more broadly elsewhere.

[00:19:40] While I do think that’s probably more likely to be a one-off thing, just because it’s a unique scenario where he is an artist, non-major record label that owns his content exclusively, he can choose to do with it what he wants. I’d be interested to see if that changes things and if TikTok does get more involved with exclusivity, especially if it builds out its [00:20:00] own music streaming service.

[00:20:03] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, a hundred percent. 

[00:20:04] Dan Runcie: So we’ll see how that one goes. But let’s transition over to YouTube now, and I think we talked a little bit about this, but I think some of the pros that it has is that it clearly is YouTube short specifically is clearly a top of the funnel for YouTube. And YouTube already has this algorithm and everything built in there that makes it very easy for creators to be able.

[00:20:28] Actually monetize and we’ve seen many artists be sustainable success stories with how they’ve tailored their music releases to working on YouTube and be a young boy is one artist that comes to mind there, there are several others and the fact that this can essentially be a way for them to just spread more awareness to others on the platform to then capture more eyeballs and at least of what we’ve seen, it feels like there is growth, at least of what YouTube has publicly shared.

[00:20:54] I believe I saw the most recent number was 30 billion views per day for videos that were being [00:21:00] posted there. So there are a few things that seem to be working in its favor on.

[00:21:05] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, and I think the sort of, what Lyor Cohen was talking about, like that ecosystem play that YouTube shorts has, is, it’s a major pro for them whereas on TikTok, an artist is kind of posting an isolation on YouTube, maybe their shorts.

[00:21:21] It’s all on the same platform, and shorts can lead to their music videos or their vlogs on YouTube. And that could, in turn, you know, lead to their music on YouTube music. And I think that ecosystem is really powerful and that’s what TikTok would be going after if and when they do launch a Western streaming service.

[00:21:39] So for right now, I think that’s probably YouTube Short’s biggest advantage. And it’s biggest sort of, way to like convince creators of its value, convince artists of its value and get them on board. and I think they’re clearly trying to do that.

[00:21:53] Dan Runcie: Great point. Another one too that that made me think of is another of YouTube’s strengths is [00:22:00] they clearly are as I mentioned before, they are artist friendly in that it is a place where you can grow, monetize, you have the people that you’re trying to reach there. But I do think that the fact that they’re just stronger relationships that they have with the industry overall.

[00:22:18] Does tend to play in, I mean, YouTube is very vocal about how much, or YouTube music specifically is very vocal about how much money it pays out to the music industry. It’s made it a clear goal that it wants to surpass Spotify to be the platform that generates the most for that. And I think a lot of that transfers as well to on the artist side, whereas you mentioned a platform like TikTok, trying to be less reliant on music.

[00:22:40] YouTube is actually trying to double down more than that, and the fact that there’s just more stability in general. Obviously TikTok is the opposite of this, where we’re still not sure will there be a band, will there be another company owning it? But with YouTube, it’s the rare platform that 18 years into its [00:23:00] existence, people are still discovered it, people are still finding ways to be able to tap in. It competes with so many other entertainment platforms in so many ways that whether it’s for attention, for content, for revenue, at least from a revenue perspective, it’s not too far behind Netflix, if not in the same category, and it’s all free content and the international reach, there’s a lot there, and I feel like that’s stability and that longevity, there’s something to be said there. 

[00:23:29] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, that is something that I was gonna bring up too, is just how massive and far reaching YouTube’s audiences. it’s, you know, one of the most global platforms and one of the top like, the platforms that have the most penetration, I guess is how we put it in the data terms of, you know, weekly active users, globally.

[00:23:48] And a question that kind of comes out of that for me though is like, how much overlap there is, I guess between the YouTube audience and the YouTube shorts audience. and I don’t really know the answer to that. I mean, you would think that [00:24:00] a lot of habitual YouTube users trickle down to using shorts, but I’m not sure.

[00:24:06] I think YouTube is, a lot of people use, YouTube on a desktop or on a smart tv, not necessarily on the app, on their phones, which is kind of the main place for using shorts. I think Shorts has, I know actually that Shorts has, a younger user base than YouTube as a whole, which also makes sense cuz YouTube just has more users in general.

[00:24:24] But that’s like an open question that I have too is how much overlap there is there, because that would impact this ecosystem strategy that they have.

[00:24:31] Dan Runcie: Yeah, that’s a good con to highlight and I feel like. ties into with just user behavior on the platform too. TikTok, there already is this mind thought of this is the place where I can just scroll and get lost for hours. And on YouTube, if you’re using the app on the phone, it’s a separate tab that you have to click into to get to shorts because they’re all at the bottom, whether it’s shorts or regular videos.

[00:24:55] You click into shorts and then you hope that it’s a similar type of experience. The [00:25:00] difference though, is that YouTube’s algorithm is very YouTube overall, that algorithm is very much based, a bit more on YouTube itself is now the second largest search engine we have, and at least from a YouTube itself standpoint, there’s a bit more of a likelihood of it giving you repetitive content and repetitive information of, if you’ve seen one thing, you’ve probably seen all the things from this type of niche that you’re interested in. Almost in the same way that Spotify can do that, because I know that’s a very streaming thing to give you so much of what you already know to keep you sticky. But sure, from video it’s different especially if you’re trying to optimize from an entertainment perspective. You’re trying to keep up with the new trends. You’re trying to see what’s there. This is your opportunity to just scroll and do that. So can YouTube shorts optimized for that as well, because optimizing for that type of algorithm is different than optimizing for the destination music streaming service, especially from a consumer [00:26:00] behavior perspective.

[00:26:01] Tatiana Cirisano: No, and, as you mentioned before with Vine, if you have a smaller user base, you also just don’t have as much content to continue serving so that the user can scroll forever. You don’t have as many niches to go into like, I think part of the reason TikTok works so well is because since it has.

[00:26:16] like what does it have? Like a billion users more. since it has so many users, every possible niche is on there. So whatever hyper-specific thing you’re into, TikTok can serve you the content for that. But I don’t know if that’s something that these other platforms maybe reels more than shorts, but I don’t know if these other platforms really have access to that level of niche.

[00:26:36] Dan Runcie: That’s a good point. And on that note, let’s talk about Facebook and Meta and everything that they’re doing, both with reels on the Instagram side and reels on the Facebook side. I feel like one of the pros there that works out for them is that, it is so well monetized just from an overall business perspective, what they’re able to do from ads and how they’re able to generate that a bit more so on Facebook than [00:27:00] Instagram, but still they’re able to monetize that quite well, and I think that that does work into their favor because at the end of the date, this is obviously less about the artist and the industry perspective, but more from the company perspective.

[00:27:14] Your ability to make that have a high ROI is strong. And at least from recent reports we’ve heard from Mark Zuckerberg, whether it’s at earnings calls or some of the Meta town Hall meetings, it does seem like reels both on Facebook and Instagram are a growing source of eyeballs. And even though that is less money now relative to the more established streams that would only naturally grow over.

[00:27:37] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah. you know, you’re reminding me too that Facebook did roll out that ad revenue sharing program for creators. and for the music industry for rights holders, which I don’t think that that’s available on reels yet. I’ve seen some reports that it could be in the future, but, you know, that is what it seems like the music industry is trying to get TikTok to agree to.

[00:27:58] so, you know, I would imagine that’s a better [00:28:00] deal, you know, from the music side of things, and that’s definitely important to all of us.

[00:28:03] Dan Runcie: For sure. Any other pros from Instagram or Facebook?

[00:28:08] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, I think, they already have huge built-in user bases, which is, useful. They’re kind of, they don’t have to ask users to download a new app or like open a new tab the way, or I guess it’s the same as YouTube shorts, but it feels a bit more built into what users already doing on the platform.

[00:28:28] But that kind of also leads me to another point that I’ve been thinking about with this is, it’s so interesting how like TikTok is an app, but on these other platforms it’s a feature. Like TikTok is a standalone app for short form video, but when you go on Instagram reels, it’s just another feature in the toolbox.

[00:28:43] Kind of similar to how, you know, when Snapchat had stories, originally had stories, Instagram just added that as a feature and kind of stole the concept away. And it was, it worked because it was just another tool in the toolbox for its users. I don’t know if that’s a pro or a con, but it’s an interesting [00:29:00] differentiator to me.

[00:29:00] they’re positioning this as just another tool. I don’t know.

[00:29:03] Dan Runcie: Yeah, I think you maybe think of two things there, so I think that new features like that do work best when there is a audience that is either searching for this answer or searching for this type of solution that’s already tapped in with how they consume and how they naturally engage with the platform. And I think that’s been one of the differentiating factors between the copycat attempts from Facebook that work and the ones that don’t work.

[00:29:31] Like why I think that Instagram stories took off in a ways is because, In a way, even more so than it did for a Snapchat, is that you had this core group of people, influencers, who were already using Instagram, but there’s just so much pressure to post these perfect photos on the main feed. So stories helped, co helped solve that, and it helped solve that in a way that.

[00:29:54] even more so for that target audience on Instagram, because Snapchat didn’t really have as many [00:30:00] influencers, at least to the same extent. Instagram still had a much larger group. So it’s like that group that our, the group stole the feature bin, that feature was even more relevant cuz they had more of the target audience than you ever did.

[00:30:11] That was already relevant to like, how they were going about it in a way where I feel like some of Facebook’s other things like facebook dating for instance, that they’ve like started and I don’t even know if it’s still going on. But sure, you have all the active users that naturally would want to, like most of the people using Match or Tinder probably already have Facebook accounts, but that isn’t like tapped into like how they naturally use the platform.

[00:30:34] And I bring that up in this case because I think that reels is a behavior that is more closely aligned to the Instagram experience than shorts is to the YouTube experience because there was already a mindless nature to some extent of how Instagram was being used. Sure, I know there’s differences based on to the point you mentioned earlier of people saying, Hey, I wanna see [00:31:00] my friends.

[00:31:00] Not necessarily all this to other stuff, but there’s still a mindlessness to seeing your friends or just scrolling through the

[00:31:07] feed and. 

[00:31:08] Tatiana Cirisano: that’s a really point.

[00:31:09] Dan Runcie: And YouTube didn’t really have that scrolling through the feed dynamic. Sure, the algorithm could suggest things, but the algorithm suggested things in a way that was almost closer to Spotify’s algorithm suggesting things than it was to Instagram.

[00:31:21] suggest you the next thing.

[00:31:23] Tatiana Cirisano: That’s such a good point. And it reminds me about how I was saying before, like people on Instagram will run out of stuff from their friends to look at. So maybe reels is the solution, maybe it’s like going back to what you’re saying about like solving a user need. Maybe it’s you run out of things from your friends.

[00:31:40] Here’s reels where you can scroll mindlessly forever and see content from people you don’t know. I don’t know. That’s a great point.

[00:31:48] Dan Runcie: Yeah, no, thank you. It’s something I’ve thought about too, because I feel like, yeah, running outta content is clearly a thing, cuz I feel like we’ve all had those moments on Instagram where, we’re taping this now, it’s almost March. You’ll see posts [00:32:00] from the end of December that come through on something and you’re like, wait, what?

[00:32:03] Why am I getting this now? Like this isn’t even timely anymore, but it’s something that went viral then. And that obviously isn’t something that happens on TikTok in that same way.

[00:32:11] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, you you don’t get a thing on TikTok that says you’re up to date. When I get that on Instagram, like , when I get that on Instagram, I’m like, that’s how I know I’ve spent too much time on this app. It’s the equivalent of Netflix going, are you still

[00:32:23] Dan Runcie: Right. You still there?

[00:32:25] Tatiana Cirisano: you don’t get that on TikTok if you got that on TikTok, like I need, someone needs to help you.

[00:32:32] That’s such a good point. That’s such a good point. So yeah,

[00:32:35] Dan Runcie: Some of the cons, I will say just with reels, both from Facebook and with Instagram, though a lot of ads and a lot of ads, and this is part of the double-edged sword about how well it’s monetized, right? But a lot of ads that I don’t hear people complaining as much about ads on the other platforms.

[00:32:53] Tatiana Cirisano: Mm-hmm. , that’s something, I hadn’t even thought about here, and you’re totally right. many more ads on those platforms for sure.[00:33:00] 

[00:33:00] Dan Runcie: Yeah, and I think too, just given that point I mentioned about influencers being a core demographic for Instagram overall because that’s been the core audience there. How does that translate necessarily as much to artists? And I know that there’s some overlap there with some artists who very much position themselves as influencers.

[00:33:18] But if you’re an artist who really isn’t about influencing in that way, is ls going to be as effective, relatively speaking, compared to some of the other short form video platforms.

[00:33:29] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, and I think that also gets to the, cultures that are different on these platforms like I think similar to what you were saying about how Instagram influencers like stories because they could be more off the cuff. I think reels still has a feeling of being a bit more professional and less casual than TikTok.

[00:33:47] TikTok feels a bit more casual, off the cuff weird. You don’t get as much weird content on Instagram reels. It’s a lot more curated and, professionalized. and it’s interesting because I actually had, as one of my [00:34:00] pros to talk about something that I’ve just, I don’t know if this is still true, but something that I’ve heard from marketers, music marketers in the past is that, Instagram just has more trust with brands than TikTok and other platforms that are new because they’ve been using it for so long.

[00:34:12] they know what the deal is like. It just has, better relationships in that respect. but if that’s also leading to more ads on the platform, then it’s kind of a pro and a con.

[00:34:21] Dan Runcie: Yeah, definitely. That’s a great point. The brand piece too, and I know that TikTok is clearly trying to do it with some of the reports they’ve put out some of the positioning trying to get itself to be seen as a home for brands to be able to tap in. But Instagram has owned that space for quite some time.

[00:34:37] Tatiana Cirisano: Exactly.

[00:34:38] Dan Runcie: Yeah, any other pros and cons on reels before we move?

[00:34:42] Tatiana Cirisano: Well, I guess one other thing I’ll say, this kind of applies to everything, but you’ve made me think during this conversation. I would love to know what percentage of people on each of these platforms are lurking versus also posting content. cuz I think that would impact our idea of like how deep the trove of content can go and how that impacts the [00:35:00] algorithm and the niches you can get into likeI sort of have a theory that because TikTok is a bit more casual and off the cuff, it might have more of a, percentage of its users are posting content. Like I’ve never, I don’t think I would ever make a reel. It feels very influencer to me, but I would post a TikTok cuz whatever, like, it just feels a little bit more casual.

[00:35:17] So I think that’s an interesting question to me is what percentage are creators and what percentage are just like passive users?

[00:35:25] Dan Runcie: That is a really good question. Yeah, it would be good to see that, right? Because I feel like TikTok kind of has two things going forward one, it does seem less formal from a content release perspective of just being able to share it. But on the other hand too, anytime you get into the absolute numbers of over 1 billion, approaching 2 billion monthly active users specifically on this feature of the short form, you know, For You page, it does lend itself to likelihood.

[00:35:56] Each time you go outside of that like concentric circle, I feel like it’s a higher [00:36:00] likelihood of attracting more lurkers than hardcore users. But it’ll be great data to be able to see. That’s a really good point.

[00:36:06] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah. We’ll have to put that in a survey.

[00:36:09] Dan Runcie: I know, I know. We’ll have to get those answers somewhere, but so now that we’ve talked about each of these, TikTok is the company that is clearly in the lead, both from a reach perspective, how long it’s been established with this particular platform itself, and outside of the potential government sanctions or anything there, is there anything that you could see that could change the likelihood of that continuing relative to these other two services?

[00:36:34] YouTube shorts and Instagram and Facebook reels. 

[00:36:37] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, it’s a good question. I mean, the thing that immediate. Comes to mind for me is it’s licenses with music and its relationships with music knowing that those are negotiations that are happening as we speak. I think if TikTok were to suddenly, I guess this is the thing that they’re kind of trying to test in Australia, but if TikTok were to suddenly lose a lot of popular music, what would that do to the platform?

[00:36:59] [00:37:00] so I think that’s the first question that comes to mind for me, just from, you know, music industry stand 

[00:37:06] Dan Runcie: Yeah, I hear that. I could see that I thought about this too, and I had a tough time thinking about something that could really shift things. I do wonder about, If monetization itself and revenue generation does become an issue for TikTok moving forward, how that can shape the nature of the experience of the platform, right? Because meta and Google being YouTube’s parent company are both so much more established. They’ve been around for years generating revenue at a pretty steady clip. And while at least the way TikTok is right now, it does have the advantage of being under bite dance, which has several, you know, has a lot of money coming in as well.

[00:37:49] I do wonder how profitable that will be. And obviously we saw how meta adapted to try to make money, where we’re complaining about how [00:38:00] many ads there would be on the platform, could any potential changes there from the need to get more money, change that user experience in a way that could decline the user experience for this core demographic.

[00:38:12] So that’s definitely a risk for TikTok.

[00:38:14] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah. And also kind of going off that, if any of these platforms were to provide a much better way somehow for the creators on the platform to earn money from it, and then the creators were to go to that platform, that’s where the audiences would be. So I think that creators actually have a lot of leverage right now, with that, because I think you can tell that all of these platforms are kind of competing to be the most sort of creator friendly, TikTok is updating, its fund, its creator fund. after getting a lot of complaints about how it was working, YouTube shorts, I think announced an ad revenue share program. So I think that could shake things up is I, I don’t know what it would be, but if one of these platforms had ways superior monetization tools for the [00:39:00] creators, I could see the creators migrating there and their audience is following.

[00:39:03] Dan Runcie: Right. Yep. Good point. They all have funds to some extent, but you clearly need more than money if everyone else has it too, right? Like how is it gonna be used in an effective way? So it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out. 

[00:39:16] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah. But at the same time, it’s like, even if another, say that another platform say that YouTube Shorts had way better monetization for creators, but it still has a smaller audience. Will creators migrate there and hope that their audiences follow them? Or do they feel like they, it’s better to have the larger audience for, you know, leveraging brand deals and things that are outside of the app like.

[00:39:36] Dan Runcie: True. Yeah.

[00:39:37] Tatiana Cirisano: I don’t know what would be the better deal.

[00:39:41] Dan Runcie: Yeah, no, that’s a good point because I think as we saw in the Spotify era, it was very easy for artists that didn’t care about streaming and Spotify to ignore it and be very proud about them ignoring streaming back

[00:39:52] Tatiana Cirisano: Exactly. Yeah.

[00:39:53] Dan Runcie: 16. But all those artists are now on Spotify because they were like, can’t beat ’em join them pretty much.

[00:39:59] Tatiana Cirisano: [00:40:00] Right. Like will TikTok always be the place where you can’t afford not to be? 

[00:40:04] Dan Runcie: Yep, exactly. 

[00:40:06] Tatiana Cirisano: I mean, not forever. that’s the thing about social media. nothing stays. It’s popular, I don’t think forever, but you know, how long can it last? I don’t know.

[00:40:14] Dan Runcie: Yeah. No, we’ll see. We’ll see. All right, so a few, quicker questions here as we’re getting to the tail line butwanna break this down for which of these platform do you think is in the strongest position for each of these groups? Artists, record labels, and, the parent company, the company itself overall.

[00:40:30] So let’s start with artists. Which of these companies do you think creates the most value for artists? And let me not just say companies be clear. Let me talk which short form video platform.

[00:40:41] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah. Well, it depends how you define value, I guess. Because if you were saying for having a hit or influencing streaming numbers? I would say TikTok getting discovered, I would say TikTok, but if you’re saying for developing a [00:41:00] sustaining long-term fan base, no matter what the size is, I might say YouTube shorts because of that ecosystem that it has.

[00:41:07] Dan Runcie: Yeah.

[00:41:09] Tatiana Cirisano: yeah.

[00:41:09] Dan Runcie: I think that’s a good way to frame it cuz I TikTok down as well, just because of the absolute numbers part of the algorithm, how many people you could reach. But I think that your per user approach or even the ability to do conversion of actual fandom. YouTube probably has a bit more tight in there.

[00:41:27] It’s kind of like a short term versus long term 

[00:41:29] Yeah, definitely. And it’s like, okay, do you want this absolute number or do you want who you’re most actually able to have as a real super fan down the road?

[00:41:39] Yeah.What about record labels?

[00:41:40] Tatiana Cirisano: That’s a good one. Because I mean, we know that by far, YouTube as a whole is generating more for the music industry for record labels than any of these platforms. But when it comes to shorts, I’m not so sure it might be TikTok

[00:41:56] Dan Runcie: Yeah,

[00:41:56] Tatiana Cirisano: in terms of the bottom, 

[00:41:58] Dan Runcie: Yeah, it’s tough. I was stuck [00:42:00] on that one too. I think my answer still leaned YouTube, but that’s probably thinking about, A the overall tie in and the clear

[00:42:07] connection to have it feed into the broader video platform, but then also what it seems like Leo’s goals to make that be a clear thing.

[00:42:16] So that was the thought there. And then most value it created for its parent company. Which one would I be saying.

[00:42:24] Tatiana Cirisano: okay, so we have TikTok bite Dance, YouTube, Google, Instagram, Facebook. that’s a really good, that’s a tough one.

[00:42:32] Dan Runcie: I went with meta for this one because I

[00:42:34] Tatiana Cirisano: That’s where I was leaning. That’s where I was

[00:42:36] Dan Runcie: it’s. , I think it’s the most well monetized, at least from what a social media user is able to do and what they’re able to generate from a sole Facebook user on average is so much higher than any of these other platforms. And the fact that this could potentially be a funnel into that is strong.

[00:42:55] And I know a lot of people may roll their eyes, if you’re a certain generation the thought of a [00:43:00] Facebook reel even as opposed to an Instagram reel. But there’s an audience for it and there’s a reason why it’s there. And that may not line up with contemporary artists, but that may line up with some, you know, other established artists that are clearly trying to reach that base.

[00:43:12] So I feel like there’s something there.

[00:43:14] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, I think that makes sense. That’s where I was leaning to. These are good questions.

[00:43:18] Dan Runcie: And then I just to close things out, we talked a little bit about this earlier. Well, you touched on this a little bit earlier, but will there be a new form of consumption, content consumption that could take over as the place for music discovery and its top of funnel in the next five years?

[00:43:35] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, that’s a great question. What did I touch on earlier that related to.

[00:43:39] Dan Runcie: You were mentioning that there’s a new social media platform like every few years that like comes through. So even though TikTok is in like a

[00:43:46] Tatiana Cirisano: yeah.

[00:43:46] Dan Runcie: today, we don’t know what it’s gonna look like in the future.

[00:43:49] Tatiana Cirisano: So I have a couple answers to this. One thing that I’ve been really, it’s so funny, every time we do this, I always have a timely report coming out on the topic. I don’t know how you have like [00:44:00] this somehow, this telepathy to know this, but I was wor I’m working on this report right now that’s very related, which is about how potentially the next step for all of this, for music and social media could be, not only are you opening TikTok and adding, you know, a Taylor Swift song to your post, but you’re also remixing the song, or you’re adding your own vocals or you’re actually changing it. So going a step further in what I was saying about, users engaging, creating their own spin on the music that they’re fans of, they would be actually changing the song as well.

[00:44:33] Dan Runcie: you wrote about this recently, right? About like

[00:44:35] Tatiana Cirisano: yeah.

[00:44:36] Dan Runcie: and like, and music having its Instagram moment.

[00:44:38] Tatiana Cirisano: Yes, exactly. So the same way that Instagram brought kind of mainstream photography tools to the average consumer, and TikTok did the same thing with videography. when will music be part of that? When will music making and recreation tools actually be part of these platforms? And when I’ve talked to people who know way more about this than I do, and said, you know, why hasn’t [00:45:00] this happened?

[00:45:00] A lot of it is about how hard it is to simplify music making into a mobile screen, let alone like, put it on top of a social app. and that’s why, you know, I had the AI tie into my blog post is because, there are companies that are using AI to simplify that process and make this possible. So like Snapchat is a company that is like semi-related to short form video that we haven’t talked about, and they have an integration right now with a company called Mini Beats, where you can remix the song that you’re putting on your post. so I think that’s not necessarily like, it’s not a new platform, but it’s a new way of consuming like I think creation as a form of consumption is like probably the next step.

[00:45:44] Dan Runcie: And that ends up being the catalyst for how so many of these platforms grow. We talked about TikTok and just how it was able to attract this group of music in some way was the backbone for user generated content. And then it just attracted so much, and everyone’s talked about what AI looks [00:46:00] like, I was watching some video the other day about some guy that looked and sounded nothing like Kendrick Lamar had this voice alteration thing that made him sound just like him.

[00:46:09] And while it’s not quite AI, I think there’s a lot of elements there. So whoever taps that and then that can then be the launchpad for the next thing. Something like that could easily overtake and become the next dominant social media player. But we’ll see. It’ll take a couple years to get to 1.5 billion

[00:46:26] Tatiana Cirisano: Probably more than five.

[00:46:28] Dan Runcie: probably five.

[00:46:29] Tatiana Cirisano: probably more than five just because of licensing really. But, I mean, I think the interesting thing to note there is this type of behavior is kind of already happening like I notice a lot of with sped up songs and how the music industry actually adopted that after sped up clips were going viral on TikTok, like users are already modifying the songs and then uploading those modified versions.

[00:46:49] So imagine if that capability was actually part of the platform itself.

[00:46:52] Dan Runcie: Right, right. It’s like everyone saw DJ Screw make a, you know, huge influence with this for this chopped and screwed music. [00:47:00] So it’s only about time that you make it easy to make that accessible for users.

[00:47:04] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah. So we’ll see.

[00:47:05] Dan Runcie: Yeah. So we’ll see. But Tati, pleasure as always. Thanks for coming on and yeah, we’ll definitely have to stay tapped in with what you have coming up next on this topic.

[00:47:14] So relevant to this discussion.

[00:47:15] Tatiana Cirisano: Yeah, thanks for having me again. Always a pleasure.


Dan Runcie

Dan Runcie

Founder of Trapital

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