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TikTok announces $200-million fund to help video creators

Dominique Barrett, left, known as King Vader on TikTok, films a video with Pierre Wright, center, and Rodney Lee.
Pierre Wright and Rodney Lee appear in a video for their friend and colleague Dominique Barrett (shooting, at left), known on TikTok as King Vader.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

TikTok on Thursday announced a new $200-million fund to help promising U.S. creators make original content for its video streaming app.

The money would go to people hoping to make a living by creating TikTok videos. Qualified creators will consistently post original videos and in return, they get payments from the fund.

“As our community continues to flourish, we’re committed to fostering even more ways for our creators to earn livelihoods by inspiring joy and creativity,” wrote Vanessa Pappas, general manager for TikTok U.S., in a blog post.

The incentive comes after U.S. government officials said they are looking to ban the popular app due to security concerns. The social video sharing platform’s parent company is technology business ByteDance, which was founded in China.

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TikTok says data for U.S. users is stored in the U.S. and Singapore and it believes protecting the privacy of its users’ data is of “the utmost importance.”

“We have not, and would not, give it to the Chinese government,” the company said in a statement.

Still, some of its users, including popular video game player Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, said they had deleted the app because of privacy concerns.

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“Hopefully a less intrusive company (data farming) that isn’t owned by China can recreate the concept legally, such funny and amazing content on the app from influencers,” Ninja tweeted on July 9.

TikTok, a popular based social video app owned by China-based ByteDance, has seen explosive growth this year amid the coronavirus crisis. The company has plans to hire more people, including at its Culver City office.

TikTok has plans to rapidly expand in the U.S., adding thousands of staffers over the next three years.

The company currently employs roughly 1,400 people in the U.S. and moved into a larger office space in Culver City earlier this year.

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TikTok has seen massive user growth, boosted by people sheltering at home looking for ways to entertain themselves. Its short, viral videos have been embraced by music artists and Hollywood stars. The app has also emerged as a new way for aspiring performers to gain a spotlight on their music and dance performances.

In May, TikTok named Kevin Mayer, a former Disney executive, as CEO.

The new $200-million fund is the latest initiative by TikTok to help creators. For example, TikTok also has a $50-million creative learning fund to support educational content.

Applications for the new fund will open in August.

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TikTok said qualified creators would need to meet a certain threshold of followers and post consistent original content that meets its community guidelines. It was unclear how many creators would benefit from the program.

Despite the security concerns, many TikTok users in the U.S. are continuing to use the app.

“I feel like TikTok is a very creative, safe environment and it never felt not safe,” said Dominique Barrett, or “King Vader” on TikTok, earlier this year.

Also Thursday, TikTok and the National Music Publishers Assn., a music publishers trade group, announced they had reached a multi-year agreement that allows the group’s members to receive licensing revenue for their music featured on TikTok.

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“We are pleased to find a way forward with TikTok which benefits songwriters and publishers and offers them critical compensation for their work,” said David Israelite, president and CEO of NMPA, in a statement. “Music is an important part of apps like TikTok which merge songs with expression and popularize new music while also giving new life to classic songs.”


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