While the Facebook rebrand to Meta has captured headlines and captivated the general public, another social media giant has taken a more measured and considered approach to NFTs — TikTok.
While many of us will be familiar with the short-form social media platform and the creators who have become famous through the platform (think Bella Poarch), the news of TikTok launching its own NFT platform, announced on 1 October, may have gone under the radar.
Named ‘TikTok Top Moments’, the platform features a selection of culturally significant TikTok videos and moments which have been created as NFTs.
According to TikTok, the NFTs provide a way for creators to be recognized and rewarded for their content, and for fans to own culturally significant moments on TikTok.
Thus far, the platform has already sold three auction NFT pieces, as well as limited edition open drops of three other NFTs.
The full genesis collection of TikTok Top Moments will be a total of six unique auctions, featuring creators such as Lil Nas X, Rudy Willingham, Bella Poarch, Curtis Roach, Brittany Broski, FNMeka, Jess Marciante, and Gary Vaynerchuk.
We take a deeper look at TikTok’s entry to NFTs and discuss the implications and possible future direction of Top Moments.
TikTok builds on Ethereum and Immutable X
While Facebook looks likely to build its own ‘Metaverse’ on a closed platform (i.e. not decentralized on a public blockchain), TikTok has chosen to launch its genesis collection on the Ethereum blockchain, with the Top Moments platform powered by Immutable X, a Layer-2 scaling solution for Ethereum, which enables gasless transactions.
The decision by TikTok to launch with Immutable X is notable, given that the technology has gained more prominence considering the frequent gas wars for NFTs on Ethereum, and is currently used on NFT platforms such as Kollectiv.
In essence, launching on the Ethereum blockchain essentially separates TikTok Top Moments as an independent platform from TikTok’s core social media business.
The NFTs that are sold on the Top Moments platform exist outside of TikTok’s social media app, and are in the same format as other NFTs which are currently being minted and sold on Ethereum.
Top Moments NFTs can also be transacted on the secondary market via OpenSea, although none of the initially sold NFTs have been listed for sale.
Is TikTok just listing original videos as NFTs?
Yes… and no. While the inspiration for each NFT is the original video of a particular ‘moment’ on TikTok by a creator, each NFT also encompasses other visual and audio elements that give a distinct mood and feel to each digital piece.
One should think of each TikTok moment NFT as a collectible art piece built around one of the iconic moments on TikTok.
For example, in Jess Marciante’s ‘Rent Free’ NFT, the original video of Jess Marchiante asking TikTok users ‘What is a video that lives in your head rent free?’, is combined with a response from Gary Vaynerchuk, and later an animated sequence of cars running down a cityscape.
It is also stitched with Marchiante’s question and voice ringing out from all quarters to evoke the mood and feel of the original video itself ‘living rent free’ in the viewer’s mind.
The 1/1 NFT was auctioned for 25 ETH.
In Curtis Roach’s ‘Bored in the House’, the original video of Roach rapping about his boredom in the house is remixed into a further audio-visual sequence featuring a neighborhood and its surroundings ‘vibing’ to Roach’s original sound.
The 1/1 NFT was auctioned for 28 ETH.
Aside from the 1/1 auctions, TikTok Top Moments has so far released 3 ‘limited drop’ collections which have multiple editions (ranging from 100 to 50 editions).
The 3 drops include ‘Bored in the District’, an interactive NFT which enables users to remix their own versions of Curtis Roach’s original audio, ‘Ether Highs’, a digital sneaker produced in collaboration between FNMEKA and RTFKT, as well as ‘Rent Free’, an ASCII digital art piece by x0r featuring a silhouette of Gary Vaynerchuk with a thought bubble containing all the TikTok handles who commented on Jess Marciante’s original clip.
How will TikTok Top Moments evolve?
In its present iteration, TikTok seems to be taking a more curated approach to launching NFTs under its own brand, by collaborating with top-tier creators who already have tremendous popularity on its social media platform, and releasing novel collectible NFTs which ‘wrap’ around the original iconic videos.
Given the strong familiarity of audiences with the videos featured on the platform, TikTok’s Top Moments can be a conduit for greater popular interest in the NFT space.
On the other hand, creators also have a new avenue to monetize their content, while simultaneously leveraging the TikTok brand in their NFT creations.
In the future, it is possible that a more platform-like approach will be taken, where TikTok creators will have the tools and platform to enable them to easily bring their digital content to the blockchain as NFTs.
It is unclear if TikTok will continue curating NFTs on the platform, or if it will enable any creator to freely launch and sell NFTs on the platform in the future.
The latter would certainly enable TikTok’s NFT platform to scale much more significantly, given the large number of creators who are already actively generating content on its social media app.
Given that the primary mode of consumption of TikTok content remains on mobile, it will also be interesting to see how TikTok’s NFT platform becomes more mobile-enabled in the future.
In general, much of Web3 consumption remains browser-based, although this is likely to change as more developers and builders put in resources to enable a mobile-first experience.
Why is this significant?
As blockchain technology continues to mature, and consumer interest in digital assets continue to grow, we will witness large Web2 consumer technology companies enter the space through different approaches. TikTok’s venture into the blockchain via launching NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain represents a starkly different proposition to what Facebook has set out as part of its future strategy.
In general, TikTok’s approach of building on a public blockchain has been celebrated by the blockchain community, which holds decentralization dear to its core ethos. It will be exciting to observe how other Web2 companies attempt to enter the space and capture the next growth opportunity.
On the other hand, TikTok’s focus on iconic moments also brings into focus the concept of historical value in NFTs, with each Top Moment NFT entrenching a particular viral moment in the course of TikTok’s growth and history. As the NFT space continues to mature, the concept of historical value in collectability will become more pronounced over time.
Top Moments represents an early opportunity for investors and collectors alike to participate in the tokenization and ownership of such intellectual property. It is not too distant to imagine these NFTs becoming part of a historical collection in the future, charting the life and times of our generation.
Featured Image Credit: Coin Quora