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Some Las Vegans fear TikTok ban means losing big bucks

Updated September 12, 2020 - 9:28 am

Las Vegas content creator P.J. Brittain makes $25,000 a month from making videos on TikTok. He and others are worried what a possible ban of the social media platform could mean.

“This is my full-time career,” said Brittain, known on TikTok as Overtflow. “I plan to help my family with this money. I plan to buy a house with this money. It’s a scary thing to think about TikTok getting banned.”

Eric Rivera, another Las Vegas TikTok content creator, said he earns about $10,000 a month from making videos on the platform.

“TikTok means so much to me,” said Rivera, known on TikTok as FaZeClipZ.

TikTok declined to say how a ban or a sale would affect its users. The app has been in political limbo since Aug. 6, when two executive orders issued by the White House put TikTok’s U.S. operations in jeopardy.

100M users in U.S.

TikTok has seen its popularity grow in recent years.

The platform, which allows users to upload short-form mobile videos and interact with each other, has 100 million users in the U.S. A company representative declined to provide the number of users globally.

On Aug. 6, the President Donald Trump issued an executive order targeting mobile applications developed and owned by companies in China, and TikTok in particular, citing concerns about data use. The order banned any transactions effective Sept. 20 between U.S. citizens with ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, or its subsidiaries.

The second executive order, issued Aug. 14, aimed to force a sale of TikTok to a U.S. company by Nov. 12.

TikTok released a statement in response, saying, in part, “We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process. For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed. What we encountered instead was that the Administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.”

When asked how a sale or a ban would affect users, the company said, “TikTok is loved by 100 million Americans because it’s a home for entertainment, self-expression and connection. We’re committed to continuing to bring joy to families and meaningful careers to those who create on our platform for many years to come.”

Several U.S. companies, including Microsoft, Oracle and Walmart, have expressed interest in purchasing TikTok, but no sale has emerged.

With TikTok’s future unclear, some creators are preparing for all possibilities.

“I’d move right now,” Brittain said. “I’d legitimately look at other places, maybe like Canada.”

Lucrative for content creators

Since joining the platform in 2019, Brittain has amassed more than 1.7 million followers.

Brittain is no stranger to content creation, finding success as a YouTuber making videos of himself playing “Call of Duty” and videos detailing his experiences working at GameStop. On TikTok, he mixes vlogging and gaming.

“TikTok reached out to me last year,” he said. “They were trying to get more gaming creators to come to the platform. Back then, you saw a lot of music and dancing on TikTok and now there’s tons of stuff.”

TikTok has opened business opportunities he never thought possible, thanks to brand deals and a newly created TikTok Creator’s Fund, which distributes funds over the course of a year to support eligible and accepted content creators.

Brittain also has three exclusive sponsors and five to 20 brand deals per month for sponsored videos. His past deals have included KFC and GFUEL Energy.

Brittain said he recognized the potential of reaching a massive new audience when TikTok approached him. It hasn’t disappointed.

“My best month on YouTube, I had about 10 million views,” Brittain said. “On TikTok, I’m averaging 30 million views every month.”

Rivera, co-founder of FaZeClan, an esports organization, has also built an audience on multiple platforms. Rivera has 720,000 followers on TikTok.

He has an exclusive brand deal with GFuel Energy and works with several other brands for sponsored posts.

His videos range from highlights of him playing video games to telling jokes.

“I had a total digital footprint of around 200,000 followers on my other platforms before I started TikTok last year. In one year, I was able to gain more than 700,000 followers on TikTok. Most people are used to traditional ways to make an income. I think it’s surreal I can make $10,000 a month off my cellphone,” he said.

Plan B

A big part of the draw for creators is, unlike other platforms, filming can be done on a phone and take minutes, instead of hours, to produce a video.

“I don’t need any super crazy computer editing software,” Rivera said. “It’s on my phone. That’s the beauty of it. You can make content wherever you’re at and whenever you want.”

As each has invested more time in TikTok accounts, the return on that investment has grown. Losing TikTok would mean losing 90 percent of their monthly income.

“You try to prepare for it the best you can,” Rivera said.

If TikTok was banned and it got in their way of making money from the app or using the app, they anticipate a setback.

“If I get let go of my job, of course I have to figure out how to stabilize everything,” Brittain said. “I’m trying my best to spread my followers to other platforms, but it would take awhile to build a platform to where TikTok is right now.”

Both are confident that TikTok will survive the uncertainty and are hopeful for its future.

“Ten years ago, nobody thought much of YouTubers,” Brittain said. “Now, every kid wants to be a streamer. Guys like Ninja are on the cover of ESPN. TikTok is in a position that YouTube was a few years ago. A few years from now, people are going to be huge off of TikTok and become huge cultural influencers.”

Contact Lukas Eggen at leggen@reviewjournal.com or702-383-0279. Follow @lukaseggen on Twitter.

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