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Ideas Strategy2021-05-26

The Global Takeaway May 2021

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The New Hot 100

Media consumption spiked in 2020, with people across the world having more time than ever before. But in the absence of events and shared public experiences, music listening and streaming declined. Where music thrived, however, was on TikTok. Because of the ability to engage, create, and connect through challenges, duets, and viral moments, TikTok brought a motivation and opportunity to discover and engage with new music and other fans. As with most things, COVID-19 fueled the latest iteration of a music industry dynamic that’s always been present: music creation adapting to new technologies and listening methods. The impact of TikTok on the music industry was already reaching new levels, but it solidified in the last year.  

Award shows, “today’s top hits” playlists, and radio are no longer weathervanes of what’s hot—they’re delayed markers of what was hot. It’s clear that TikTok has become the place to be discovered and garner mass attention.


  • 70 artists gained record deals after gaining traction on TikTok (NYT)

  • In April 2020, every top 10 single on the Billboard Hot 100 list got a foothold on TikTok (Insider)

  • This year’s Grammys deprioritized the Album of the Year award, opting to close out the event with Record of the Year instead, a platform primed for TikTok (Grammys)

  • The emergence of “hyperlocal, small stations (and digital platforms)” tap into diverse audiences, like Gen-Z-backed platforms No Signals Radio and Jevas Combativas

  • New apps like Bopdrop are shaping rules and rituals within the culture of music sharing (Bopdrop)

Why it matters

TikTok and smaller music platforms are both separate from and intertwined with one another. It’s important to build connections in digital spaces that are already a part of users' music journeys, but to keep the needs, interests, and levels of engagement among different groups in mind. To successfully maneuver the complex spectrum of music discovery and engagement, marketers should keep three things in mind: 

  1. Don’t try a “one size fits all” approach.

  2. Like everything else in digital media, find ways to make it personal.

  3. Think of ways to go deeper into fan-based communities.


Put your money where your mouth is

Before the pandemic, female-run SMBs were smaller, less likely to apply for funding, and less likely to receive it. Since COVID, the gap has widened. More than 700 UK companies applied for government grants; funding for female-led business totalled £7.2m vs. £118.4m for men (Wired UK). The pandemic has had the impact of laying bare many disparities in society, but not all are as stark as this. In response, many brands have made efforts to seem like they are closing the gap, but without committing the resources necessary to avoid the label of “COVID-washing.” Surprisingly, financial services brands have been making the most positive in-roads. 


  • More women than men are employed in the sectors hardest hit by COVID-19; women’s job losses outpaced men’s in 2020 across the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) 

  • In partnership with the Female Founders Collective, Visa accelerated “She’s Next,” designed to remove barriers facing female Black-owned businesses. (Visa)

  • Mastercard went big for IWM, launching new grants and partnership programmes, like documentaries celebrating the perseverance and passion of female entrepreneurs. (Mastercard)

Why it matters

The pandemic has brought a heightened focus on corporate social responsibility, but that does not mean that brands can engage in these activities lightly. Thanks to the growing call for brand accountability and help for SMBs since COVID, we’ve seen some positive changes—fewer empty PR statements and more long-term commitments that now need to be truly aligned to a brand’s core values. Real impact requires dedicated and consistent commitment. The question that needs to be answered is, “What are we willing to commit to in order to instigate positive change?”


Purposeful pivoting

By now, it is a tired statement to say that COVID-19 fundamentally changed the way we interact with the world, but it’s no less true. Through necessity and responsiveness to an ever-changing situation, we’ve had to continually adapt the way we use everyday services to fit our “new normal.” Nowhere is this more true than in the apps we use. App usage has seen a paradigm shift with consumers utilizing apps for something entirely different than their intended use. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused apps to pivot both in features and functionality by both consumers and brands alike. 


  • In India, Whatsapp has become more than a chatting app. A third of the enrolled children in schools use it as a medium of education. (Northeast Now News) 

  • Home entrepreneurs, especially women like Shalmoli Chatterjee from West Bengal, have leveraged social platforms like Instagram Reels and Facebook in a big way to run their businesses. (News18)

  • Uber introduced “Uber Connect” to provide no-contact package deliveries across cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Noida, and more. (Uber)

  • Korean fintech app Toss started a service to provide information on where to get vaccinated for  COVID-19 and updates on the vaccine uptake. (Korea Herald)

  • TrulyMadly, an Indian dating app, has deployed its matchmaking algorithm to help COVID patients match plasma donors with patients. The process captures and matches all critical information like blood group, location, contact details, phone numbers, and more. (Truly Madly)

Why it matters

The past year has proven that agility is everything. A massive impact was created by apps, services, and consumers able to purposefully pivot traditional channels for needs that served a greater good. Moving forward, one learning may be to prioritize agility in our media, creating the ability to respond to changes as they happen to create a deeper, more purposeful impact on consumers.