TikTok is still a relative newcomer to the social-media world, but it’s quickly grown into one of the most popular video apps among creators.
As its stars have built massive followings, talent managers and agents from both upstart companies and legacy Hollywood talent firms are racing to sign the next generation of digital stars.
Business Insider looked into how different talent firms are approaching the app, and built an exclusive interactive database with 95 of the top managers and agents nabbing these creators.
As TikTok stars build large and loyal followings on the short-form video app, a slew of talent managers and agents from both upstart companies and legacy Hollywood talent firms are racing to sign them as clients.
The opportunity is clear for industry insiders.
TikTok trends are spilling over onto Instagram, YouTube, and TV shows like Saturday Night Live. Its stars are appearing in Super Bowl ads and late-night talk shows. And songs that become popular on TikTok are topping Billboard and Spotify charts.
Agents and managers who already have built-in connections across the entertainment industry can sometimes turn a TikTok comedian, dancer, or singer into a mainstream star in just a few months.
“I think it’s super exciting to have a new platform that is another pipeline for us to discover talent,” Joe Izzi, a digital agent at the Hollywood talent agency WME, previously told Business Insider. “Regardless of the platform, the No. 1 thing we always look for is talented creators — people that we can help build a business around that’s long-lasting.”
“It started this frenzy,” WME digital agent Justin Greenberg said of TikTok. “We found it really interesting because we are now dealing with sort of the premier Gen Z creator, who is defining the various pop-culture trends for teenagers.”
TikTok’s most followed creator, 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio (66 million followers), signed up for the app just a year ago and has already danced alongside her idol Jennifer Lopez, voiced part in an animated movie, and is teasing a reality TV project.
“Charli is just so popular right now in mainstream culture,” said Greg Goodfried, cohead of the Hollywood talent agency United Talent Agency that represents D’Amelio and her family. “There’s tons of brands that she loves, so [we’re] making sure she’s connected to those brands and getting those opportunities.”
D’Amelio, her sister Dixie, and their two parents are all comanaged by the firms Outshine Talent and Manncom Creative Partners, and represented by UTA for larger business ventures, like going on tour.
Dixie also has a large following online (27 million TikTok followers) and this week she released her first song, “Be Happy.” One of her managers, Billy Mann, who is the founder of Manncom Creative Partners and The Well, had writing credit on the song.
TikTok is opening up a new group of talent managers and agents
While traditional talent agencies like UTA and WME have been aggressively signing TikTok stars in recent months, there are also a variety of upstart talent firms that have popped up recently to help TikTokkers capitalize on social-media fame.
Devain Doolaramani founded a new TikTok-focused talent management agency, The Fuel Injector, while studying finance at Chapman University. After graduating this spring, the 21-year-old now represents dozens of TikTok stars, many of whom have millions of followers on the app.
The talent management company TalentX Entertainment — cofounded by two YouTubers in December 2019 with a focus on TikTok creators — has been expanding rapidly, poaching agents from legacy firms like A3 Artists Agency and expanding into new business categories like gaming and music.
“These guys are the next generation of YouTubers, like it or not,” TalentX cofounder Michael Gruen recently told Business Insider. “When you put a video with their name in the headlines, they’re going to get a 100,000 views.”
An inside look at who is working with these top stars
In reporting on the rise of TikTok stars and the agents and managers signing them, we realized there wasn’t a central database to view the top power players in the influencer business and who they represent.
So we decided to build one.
Business Insider drew on our reporting and conversations with professionals to identify the talent managers and agents signing innovative creators and helping them build lasting businesses. We created an exclusive interactive database that gives an inside look at who is working with the top influencers on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and more in 2020.
Select Management Group; UTA; CAA; A3 Artists Agency
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