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The Rise and Rise of Triller In Music

We contextualize how Triller became the go-to platform for mainstream music marketing in Nigeria.

Pick a random afternoon in May 2020 and you’d have found a mother struggling to set the camera right on her vanity set and get her toddler to sit still for 2 minutes to record their version of the viral Duduke Challenge. Simi's #DudukeChallenge was viral on the Triller app for many weeks, with celebrities ranging from 2Baba to Odunlade joining in. Duduke, a baby fever themed song describing her unborn child's heartbeat, cut across different age groups, appealing to both the young and old. Simi also announced that the winner of the challenge would get a cash prize of N200k and a feature from her.

Triller has grown steadily over the past few years, establishing itself as a major social media app among Gen Z. Its growing popularity in Nigeria and beyond the continent is nothing short of tremendous. Either by watching or reposting some of the best dance moves to your favourite songs on different social media platforms, you have most likely run into a viral Triller video. In addition to becoming one of the coolest new apps to gain prominence, it has recently cemented itself as an essential marketing tool for brands and artists.

Triller is centered on music and talent discovery. It was established back in July 2015 and was marketed as an app that 'democratizes the music video creation process,' letting users create their own high-quality music videos to share elsewhere. Slowly, Triller then began moving away from solely being a video-making app to being a social media platform on its own as it added a feed so users could find and follow other users and watch their videos.

Most of the world started this year as usual, with fireworks and resolutions that spanned the entire 12 months of the year. The new year’s celebrations became a distant memory only about eight weeks into the year as a deadly virus struck. The pandemic caused a worldwide lockdown, and one of the most significant effects of this is how it limited the promotion of music. Restricted movements meant artists could not tour or perform at gigs, and their teams could not physically promote their music through clubs, radio, tv, and other go-to means. This forced many artists to push back their new music releases, and the ones that went ahead with them had to devise a new strategy for promotion. Eventually, social media became the primary tool for promotion, and this helped catapult the Triller app into popularity.

The promotion of music through the Triller app is interactive and direct to the fans, which is its biggest strength. It starts with a Triller challenge (a dance challenge or lip-sync challenge), which grants fans the opportunity to create their unique videos using the artist’s song. Hashtags are used so all submissions can be easily tracked. Sometimes the artists include cash and other prizes to the challenges as an incentive. The artists then engage with their fans and audience by liking, commenting, and reposting their content, creating a buzz on the platform.

DJ Neptune’s ‘Nobody’ is a prime example of successful music marketing through the Triller app. In March, DJ Neptune released the smash-hit collab with Joeboy and Mr. Eazi, accompanied by a Triller video of the trio dancing to the song. The artists then issued the #NobodyChallenge, urging Triller users to make their dance videos as a means of garnering organic promotion. It worked. The challenge soon took on a life of its own, gaining significant attention across Africa with more than 186k Triller videos, making it among the most popular Triller challenges on the continent to date. ‘Nobody’ has since become one of the country’s biggest songs, and Triller played a huge role contributing to its success.

Triller is giving artists a leg up in the streaming race. Each video created with an artist's track is direct access to a stream as you can click on the play button and generate a stream after 31 seconds. And since Apple Music includes Triller streams when accumulating data for each song, every song's activity generates royalty for the artist.

In a bid to further highlight how music on social media apps is being utilized, Triller, in partnership with Billboard, introduced a weekly chart based on the songs' data on their platform. According to Triller, the chart highlights the most popular songs on the app, blending the number of views of videos containing respective songs, the level of engagement with those videos, and the raw total of videos uploaded featuring each song.

The Nigerian iteration of the chart (Turntable’s Top Triller Chart Nigeria) further depicts the social media platform's commitment to the growth of Nigerian and African music by allowing Nigerian artists to track their songs' popularity and reach of their music on the app through active engagements by fans. Since we have no official chart in Nigeria — save for Turntable’s newly inaugurated Top 50 Chart — and Africa in general, an app like Triller that collects data and keeps track of the numbers a song is pulling is a useful metric for knowing the country’s biggest songs.

Here are the top 5 songs on the Triller chart in Nigeria for the week of December 1st, 2020:

  1. Godly - Omah Lay

  2. The Best - Davido ft. Mayorkun

  3. Lagos Anthem - Zlatan

  4. Infinity - Olamide ft. Omah Lay

  5. Cash App - Bella Shmurda ft Zlatan & Lincoln

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