💅im working bitch

everyday im hu$tling...

You are cordially invited to this week’s brew of High Tea, your dispatch of 🔥 internet culture served piping hot. This week: small business tok delivers the good$, Cameo comes correct and Miley pleads we don’t leave her on read. 

Drink up  🐸☕

what we’ve been sipping on

It’s been another wild week. While we all watched with baited breath as Congress and the White House try to reach a deal on the unemployment benefit (it’s August already 👀), Trump went ahead and signed the executive order to block all transactions with ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, and Tencent’s WeChat. Did someone say MISPLACED PRIORITIES? Oh, that’s right – we did. As for those higher powers who continue to dismay us (30 million people are still without their $600 unemployment supplement that expired in July, no cap), we thought with this dispatch we’d highlight some of the entrepreneurial excellence we’ve seen on some of our favorite platforms that prove to our political naysayers: the hu$tle is alive and kicking (your 🍑).

Let’s dive in.

TikTok, the megaphone

We will start by saying, we acknowledge TikTok has its flaws, but for small businesses during the pandemic, it’s been a lifesaver. Let’s start with the fyp algorithm, an enigma for many as the app burst onto the scene in 2018, but has since become the gen z holy grail for virality. Forget (fake) friends and #f4f; now users can expect to be served a stream of top-tier content instantaneously based on previous interactions: ta da *waves wand* TikTok’s recommendation engine at work. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ page, the For You feed is meticulously curated for you, by you, down to every pouty-face and certified bop. Smart. 

It’s no secret that getting featured on the ‘for you page’ for small time creators is the TikTok equivalent of finding Wonka’s golden ticket. It equals unparalleled exposure such that Rui Ma says, unlike the social graphs of Insta and FB, TikTok’s ‘content finds the user, versus the user finding the content’. 

“While a video is likely to receive more views if posted by an account that has more followers, by virtue of that account having built up a larger follower base, neither follower count nor whether the account has had previous high-performing videos are direct factors in the recommendation system,” - TheTikTok Newsroom 

So what does this all mean for new small businesses? Well, find yourself on the fyp and you’ve effectively got yourself a megaphone in one of the busiest online public plazas. Get it right and you’ll have more orders than you know what to do with; not a bad situation to be in as we sit on the precipice of an incoming global depression, amirite Donald? On TikTok, Zs sell anything from jewellery to lashes, to homemade soaps and tie dye; and not only are their small businesses thriving, but many are going full-time to fulfil their orders. 

The before and after here is WILD:  

So what’s the secret to creating fyp content? Do you remember last year when we covered Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star’s launch of the Conspiracy Collection...well, we see glimmers of the same promo vehicle here; except, minus the exec producers and a cancelled YouTube duo, ofc 🐸☕️. With every TikTok, these talented/brilliant/incredible/amazing/showstopping [insert Gaga meme here] Zs take their viewers on an intimate BTS of making the order, packaging the goods, and sharing the end product ready to ship. The result? Small business owners experience increased website views and custom orders with *every* TikTok (cc: animal crossing inspired merch maker @kokai_island). ICYMI, it’s extremely compelling to watch a Z building their business from their bedroom, and get a glimpse into the person and the story behind the product. 

Could I make that myself? Yeah, maybe. Will I though? Probably not. It’s like Etsy on steroids. And before you know it, you’re knee deep in yet another Shopify buying *that* butterfly set in three colors (and that’s without TikTok’s shoppable content feature), touché.

We’re excited for the potential of small business tok, especially since the app itself launched it’s own back-to-business ad credit program in July, dedicating $100M to help those small businesses get that extra exposure. Shoppable TikToks coming to a fyp near you…

cameo or it didn’t happen

“The selfie was the new autograph” is a realization that would not only change the lives of Steven Galanis, Martin Blencowe, and Devon Spinnler Townsend, but also the nature of the relationship between celebrity and fan as we experience it today. We are, of course, talking about the founders of Cameo, the platform which has been facilitating personalized messages “from your favorite celebrities” since 2017 and in-app since 2018. Launched under the premise of linking fans with their sporting icons and, in turn, expanding their reach to include influencers and musicians, the app has found success in its niche of connecting superfans and the curious to the most obscure brand of ‘celebrity’ imaginable. Last year, TechCrunch called them “a new type of thank you note, at least among the Gen Z crowd”, after they raised their $50m Series B and grew to a community of 30,000 users. Then, 2020 happened.

Like most things we spill the tea on, the pandemic has only served to accelerate the reach of such a service, in an age where we’re simultaneously starved of both connectivity and entertainment. While athletes still dominate the platform (8149 profiles), featuring stars such as Mike Tyson for $500 (though he’s not accepting requests at this time) and Floyd Mayweather for $999, categories such as  “Twitch” (22 profiles), Drag Queens (262 profiles) and the nuances of Reality TV (3010 profiles) – from 90 Day Fiancé to Dance Moms – show the emergence of a new kind of ‘access all areas’ when it comes to commanding the social capital of *your* celebrity staple. 

One of many sub-categories on Cameo: Netflix Stars (338 profiles)

“The team prefers to sell a higher volume of videos rather than make big sells, like that of Snoop Dogg, because the more videos delivered, the more are shared on social media and the more shared on social media, the more free advertising for Cameo. Because they’ve prioritized volume, they’ve increased revenue 5x year-over-year,” - Kate Clark, TechCrunch 2019

Among the stans soul searching for their flavor of the month, Cameo has given rise to the new kid on the block, quite literally, with an influx of smaller creators flocking to the site for a much sought after revenue stream during the pandemic. No surprise, then, that Vlog Squad members (past and present), TikTokers (all 1495 of them on the platform) and even 17 Tarot Card Readers are all participating in this cash rich venture. From $350 per message for the top tier of TikTok talent (fyi: it’s JoJo Siwa) to SM6 band (their theme tune lives rent free in our heads...and yodelinghayley’s) at $125 a pop, all the way to the queen of our alt hearts, Mooptopia, at $20 – there’s truly something for everyone, every birthday message and every engagement announcement. And that’s the *chef’s kiss genius of the Cameo content wheel. 

Cameo downloads, December 2019 - August 2020 [source: apptweak]

Of course, creators outside of the Cameo universe don’t miss a beat: taking up the opportunity to throw their hard earned influencer dollars towards celebrity message requests and subsequently churning out content with serious secondary viral potential, like YouTubers ‘Cold Ones’ who insist Cameo is for “washed up celebrities”, with craftily clipped and cut montages. Notably, for all us cool cats and kittens, Netflix’s Carole Baskin was the latest victim to this internet prank, stating “I would not have done the cameo if I had known”, after wishing Happy Birthday to an infamous sex offender. Yikes.

Nevertheless, creators remain incentivized to keep on chasing that cash cow before their 15 minutes is up. This is buoyed by the fact Cameo’s cut is only 25%, compared to the 50% take-home deal that TikTok strikes with creators going live on their platform. Our latest Cameo love interest is a goodie and a 🐸☕ one to watch...you guessed it, we’re Claudia Conway stans. In a TikTok posted on her burner account yesterday, already at 250k views, Claudia announced “thank you Cameo for reaching out”, stating that “all of my money is going towards money for lawyers and possible emancipation ❤️️”. Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any weirder at least we know one thing for sure: when the brand deals dry up, there’s always Cameo to bail you out...

kettles on: ones to watch

😷masq-her-aid. People making home-made masks is not new. Yet, we missed a crucial accessibility point which has left many deaf people unable to lipread. Enter Leah Keane, the hard-of-hearing Z, who has been making masks with a clear panel helping those struggling to communicate in the new normal. We stan. You can support her store here

🤳miley, is that u? Clearly she can’t stop; won’t stop. When 2020 gives you lemons, Miley Cyrus said: “hold my red cup”. This week stans (and us, ofc) lost it when Miley teased the release of her upcoming single, Midnight Sky which comes out August 14th (mark ya damn calendars). Of course, always doing the absolute most, Miley sent her fans into a tailspin with the ultimate growth hack, and favorite tactic of Community, by texting (and confusing) pretty much all of us with a series of cryptic messages to promote the drop. Looks like this gal can’t be tamed or left on read. Stay tuned for the disco bop of the year...we ain’t ready. 

🎬no feels for reels We’ve got this far without mentioning Reels, so we thought we’d throw y’all a bone and give it a bullet. In essence, we don’t believe the hype. There’s a reason IGTV failed, (remember when Zuck tried to make it a standalone app?), with Reels, their latest “invention” *cough* TikTok wannabe *cough* we’re gearing ourselves up for round 2. It’s quite incredible that after our 10 years of using their apps, (and FB using our data to sell ads) they don’t have enough interest data to recommend us Reels to match 🤷. After a quick scroll all we’ve seen are TikTok repeats. wHeRe’S tHe fLaVoR? But that’s none of our business...🐸☕️

Okay, you made it. Now you can go back to protesting, for yet another week, to get the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor arrested…because that still hasn’t happened.


Alice & Faye

🦋beats for dais(y)

a tale of 3 TikToks

You are cordially invited to this week’s brew of High Tea, your dispatch of 🔥 internet culture served piping hot. This week: preparing for a world without TikTok, Ashnikko takes the the Beats and the Weeknd comes early.

Drink up  🐸☕

For better or for worse, this could be our last ever tea break for TikTok, please hold back your tears and pour one out for our favorite topic du jour. We did a full 180, followed by a full 280 (Twitter fingers turn to trigger fingers...you already know), following the frantic tweets blasted out from the mile high club (presidential suite, anyone?) on Air Force One. Truly, you have to see it to believe it:

What ensued was nothing short of a TikTok tailspin...we were shocked, honey, in tears almost, as the internet buckled up for our short form baddies to, well, just disappear. Of course, we already compiled the best reactions to the news, straight from the horse’s mouth – The Hollywood Fix style – for your viewing pleasure, duh:

No surprise that byte and Triller took the bait and ran with it, seeing an explosion of downloads over the weekend, and firmly cementing themselves in the zeitgeist for Zs, the alts and the straights, thirsty for a safety net to house their creativity and community building to date. Because, let’s be real, forget covid, forget the impending global depression, this is the most monumental disruption to the Gen Z ecosystem to date – make no mistake. But, even while this tectonic TikTok plate continues to move, that’s not the dirt that we’re here to dish. Stap in fellas, we’re diving into our favorite music discovery platform before it goes dark on us all. 

goldilocks and the three TikTokers

Sometimes, fairytales have a way of ruminating on the truth in few words...and that’s where Goldilocks and the three TikToks come in. Trust me, daddy and bear with us. We’ve already been evangelizing til the cows come home on TikTok as *the* space for unsigned, up and coming musicians, who continue to live rent free on our for you pages thanks to that juicy algorithm. When it comes to spotlighting emerging talent, TikTok aint messing about...and neither is Abigail Barlow. 

this porridge is piping hot 🔥

As for ticking all the boxes for bright young things, Abigail Barlow has it all. Say less, sis...if you’re looking for the next big thing you’ve found it. After bamboozling us back in Feb with her Britney cover, let’s just say oops she did it again: serving quarantine realness through her originals 🎶 and harnessing the power of TikTok’s most engaged to secure her spot in the self-discovered hall of fame. 

We don’t need to wax lyrical about Abigail’s cataclysmic accent to the TikTok hall of fame, but let it be known that month on month, this gal releases a new banger destined to go viral...and go viral is exactly what she does best. March saw 1.9M views for an Abigail x Charlie Puth duet, after the latter took to TikTok, crowdsourcing lyrics for a beat he produced in lockdown.  June brought back-to-back bangers from our TikTok 👑: 1.1M views for an original titled “wrote this and like imagine billie and ariana collabing on this i-”, followed by 1.5M views  a week later, for “A song I write to all the boys on Hinge I’ve played lol”. The affinity Zs have for our 🐸☕ songtress is matched by the stickiness of her writing prowess and ability to market her lyricism to hungry zoomers looking for the next bop to play on loop. 

TikTok facilitated throwing Abigail’s content into the hands of Meghan Trainor, catching her nice to meet ya eye which resulted in a fly out to and some studio time...not bad for an unsigned artist making TikToks in her bedroom 👀. We ain’t done yet though, Abigail’s *real* breakthrough came in July with Heartbreak Hotel, an original which captured the attention of the TikTok masses and, through their power, has been climbing the iTunes Pop Charts since. Ofc, Abigail has been rallying the troops from dawn til dusk. High Tea prediction: watch this space, she’s about to blow up. 

Plays for Abigail Barlow on Spotify, as of August 3rd 2020

For unsigned folks, the fun doesn’t stop there. It wouldn’t be a piping hot dispatch if we didn’t spill a lil something on Mothica, Listen up: Mothica is it, you heard it here first. From 800 followers to 350k in four months, we’ve got another TikTok success story on our hands – don’t say we didn’t warn you. There’s so much more we could say on our qween moth but, well, that’d have to wait for another Sunday, if you know what we mean. For now, stream VICES for clear skin and learn a thing or two about TikTok storytelling: 

this porridge is ice cold 💎 

I’m ABSOLUTELY BUZZING to announce that I’m teaming up with @beatsbydre on my “Daisy” music video!!!🥺💕🌼🤤the sickest part about it is that yall have a chance to be IN IT AHHHHHHHH!!! LINK IN BIO SHOW ME YOUR TRUE COLOURS! #BeatsDaisyChallenge P.S. THERE ARE TWO AUDIOS YOU CAN USE, CLEAN AND EXPLICIT! USE THE EXPLICIT ONE DUHHH
July 11, 2020

Listen, we do be loving to talk about Ashnikko and you know what? WE’LL DO IT AGAIN. Let us introduce the second tier of TikTok music discovery, ft. some beautiful #sponcon. We think this is just about the only time we can bear seeing #ad on on our fyp. High Tea gang, meet #BeatsDaisyChallenge, currently sitting at a very calm 7B views, yep a whole seven BILLION eyes on the prize. Now, Ashnikko don’t need your coin or your contracts, but she does need your creativity...which is why she’s crowdsourcing user generated content for her next music video. Aka, a genius move when it comes to empowering your community and catapulting them to the heart of your narrative.

We’ve seen Hollister Jeans scoop the D’Amelios for a pretty penny and American Eagle snatch Addison Rae (the baddest bleep on the block, make no mistake), but this Beats x TikTok x Ashinkko collab has us in bits. Numbers don’t lie, this campaign just hits and it should come as no surprise: combining the powerhouse of Ashnikko’s “dominatrix bitch boss vibes” with the legacy of Beats By Dre, the song in question (Daisy 🌼, sorry Katy Perry) has been stuck in our heads for days.

“I made a joke with someone the other day about making an entire album of like 15 second snippets for TikTok. Just because nobody has an attention span anymore, so like fuck it, you know?” - Ashnikko, PAPER

If you thought you’d seen it all from Ashnikko’s TikTok bangers of yesteryear, then think again, she’s a working bitch

the porridge is just right 💯 

For the music industry, the corona virus hit different. Forget the lights, the roaring crowds and the sensational SFX. Now fans only access to music comes in the form of streaming platforms such as Spotify, which as of the first quarter of 2020, had 130 million premium subscribers worldwide (but only pays its artists a smidge of the royalties they should receive). With the income from shows and merch sales on pause and without sign of returning any time soon, artists are seeking new ways of interacting with their audiences and staying relevant using their virtual selves. We ain’t playing when we say that it’s time for VBeings to take the stage. Let’s dive in 🐸☕️

The show must go on...and we can’t not give credit to our favorite robot, who has already spent the first half of this year bringing us *insane* music vids to accompany her newest hits ‘Speak Up’ and Friday’s release of ‘Hard Feelings.’ You’ll remember back in 2016 when 19-year-old virtual influencer Miquela Sousa aka Lil Miquela was merely an Instagram model, posing motionless for her millions of fans. Now that’s all changed, and this has a lot to do with a maturation of the technology powering her over the years. ICYMI: here’s Lil Miq at her peak ‘real’ 👀

Let it be known: Lil Miquela is an artist. Not just any artist, she’s officially a pop star. Most importantly, COVID-19 hasn’t affected her musical capabilities one pip. Sure, she’s not alive in our sense of the word, but her online presence is thriving. In a time where artists are using booky live streams to connect with fans, Miquela is pushing her virtual foot on the gas to deliver stellar, other-worldly performances that prove she is the model to follow (literally). Seeing what a Lil robot can achieve, it’s no surprise that other musicians are following suit. 

Enter: The Weeknd. We all know Abel Tesfaye, aka The Weeknd, is an anime fan, (we were stoked on his recent collaboration with anime studio D’ART Shtajio for his latest single ‘Snowchild’) so, it seemed only natural that a week later he would announce his next biggest project in partnership with XO, Republic Records, Wave and...TikTok. When we heard the news, we got hella excited. Not only is Wave the leader for virtual concerts (we covered it here), but, *checks notes* this will be the first time TikTok has partnered with an artist to deliver an immersive performance beyond its regular live streaming feature. The After Hours performance will be live on Friday 7th August, and if the teaser is anything to go by, you can expect insane psychedelic visuals with Abel moving in real time as his virtual avatar, with the help of motion capture. GET. READY. 

With this newest move, it’s exciting to see artists move the needle and push their own musical boundaries, branching into non-traditional performance territory, while TikTok proves its dedication to the music industry as it metamorphosizes into its virtual form. Imagine how this would look for all mainstream artists today if they were given free reign to perform beyond any physical limit. In the virtual world, anything is possible. Creativity will reign supreme, duh 😏

kettles on: one to watch

👚all for the cardigan. She’s done it again. 2020 has been pure crap (just want 2019 back) but Taylor Swift has given us a little gift in Folklore last week, her eighth studio album and arguably her career-defining moment. Being a total surprise, (only announced 16 hours before its release), it has already smashed Spotify records and is projected to be the biggest album debut of 2020 (sorry not sorry Kanye). To celebrate the launch of the first single, Taylor sent out her very own branded cardigan (the one that appears in the song no less), in the press drop to celebrities and musicians and the internet went mad. It seems like everyone who’s anyone got one, even Monica Aldama from Netflix’s Cheer. We cannot help but to stan the musical prowess and sheer talent of Taylor for pulling this off during a pandemic. 👏 

💸$1 billion for a TikTok (no album out) Last week the platform announced it’s $1 billion Creator Fund to support U.S. talent. Who can say no to creating (and sustaining) American jobs? 👀Clearly not Microsoft, who is apparently in talks to acquire part of the US operations of TikTok after POTUS told reporters on Friday he was banning the app by executive order. Just another day in 2020, amirite? Anyway, so what does this new mean for the app’s up and coming creators as it stands? Anyone over the age of 18 and who meets a certain number of followers, can apply to the program which it hopes will help those selected to earn a livelihood from their content. TikTok already introduced monetization for creators through livestreams, but this is a giant step towards working closer with its community, and potentially (lol) increasing it’s longevity 🤞.

🖤memoir meet its Marnell match. Cat Marnell marks the height of our long distance friendship. After gobbling down How to Murder Your Life, we both quickly turned to her critically acclaimed audiobook Self Tanner for the Soul for renewed sustenence. It didn’t disappoint. Now the NYT bestseller and all round dote has announced the title of her next book The Bored and the Beautiful which will document her self-described “successful time” after her career launched. Expect wizardry 🧙‍♂️ 

Okay, you made it. Now you can go back to protesting to get the cops who murdered Breonna Taylor arrested.


Alice & Faye

⌨️ ctrl + alt + TikTok

mooptopia and mia: i guess they never miss, huh?

You are cordially invited to this week’s brew of High Tea, your dispatch of 🔥 internet culture served piping hot. This week: alt goes mainstream, Mia Khalifa finds her voice on TikTok and we go hopping mad for frogs named after us. 

Drink up 🐸☕

this is mootopia’s world, we’re all just living in it

The path to TikTok fame never did run slow (cc. 👑Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae) but this one had us in bits. If you’ve been seeing 🔴👄🔴blowing up comments sections this week, it ain’t another 👁👄👁 (altho props team we stan 👏) but an ode to the newest and most beguiling-of-them-all alt TikTokers to ever grace the fyp. 

Enter: Mooptopia. The faerie-like teen living rent-free on your fyp and serving up your daily dose of elite content. Moop is a mood, make no mistake.

TL;DR alt TikTok is the umbrella term to refer to the multiple subcultures (more on these later) that are housed within the app. You can tell when you’ve hit it: the Hype House is long gone and the weird and wonderful shit comes to the front of the queue, quite literally.

the moop diddy scoop

Moop’s real name is never disclosed (that’s a secret we’ll never tell 🐸☕️) but that doesn’t matter. Doing some quick detective work on TikTok shows her alias has 39M views and counting. 

From joining the app in early June to earning close to 2M followers in little over a month, 200K per day in the last week (fyi not even Charli D’Amelio had that kinda clout in her first 30 days), Moop has successfully captured the hearts, minds and swipes of TikTok’s alt community. We must pay homage where it’s due and note that although relatively unknown to outsiders, TikTok’s alt-communties are successful in their own right and have grown in large pockets across the content ecosystem: frog TikTok, witch TikTok, even plague TikTok to name just a few. With her eclectic stoner aesthetic combined with VSCO girl energy (giving off wizard vibes that Cat Marnell would be proud of), Moop has successfully brought the app’s alt scene to the forefront in ways never seen.  While gazing intently into the camera with her token bloodshot eyes and slumped side smile, Moop successfully boosts our serotonin levels and our appetite for more wild, and utterly mesmerising alt art. 

Being a Z (ofc), securing the TikTok bag was only a hot sec away. 4 days ago, Moop added the link to her merch: a cute collection of pastel garms (VSCO girls are shaking) with her classic zooted eye trademark up front and center...right where it should be. We’re sold – as are all of her fans. 

Although threatening to leave the app this week, after being falsely ‘outed’ as Trump supporter: “it’s been a hard time for me lately and i must part away from tiktok”, Moop returned 24 hours later with a TikTok to Ridin’ Solo that has 2.5M likes (beating the Jason Derulo’s original 1.8M likes). 👀

One Z (@dianagivesup) articulated Moop’s insane power so perfectly we had to include: 

“jason derulo has entire production team for his tiktoks meanwhile a girl who’s always z00ted gets better engagement for zooming in on her kneecaps” 

Honestly, FACTS. Watch her closely pals, we see a queen 🐝 emerging to represent them alt.

hit or miss

“we’re so sorry for the disrespect that she had to endure because of our song, justice for Mia” - iLOVEFRiDAY, June 30th 2020

There are some TikTok ear worms that have been stuck in our heads on loop (literally) for what feels like yearsexcept this time we’re actually talking since 2018, back when TikTok was our cringey little secret 🐸☕. Context is important, this was a TikTok landscape that preceded Lil Nas X’s Old Town Road, the Yeehaw agenda and still remained the domain of furries and cosplayers 🚫🧢. 

We are, of course, talking about MiA KHALiFA by Atlanta-based duo iLOVEFRiDAY, aka the “Hit or Miss” Mia Khalifa diss trick, currently sitting at 3.3M videos on the platform (109M views on YouTube). Just two months after the song went viral on TikTok, it was re-released by Sony Music Entertainment in December 2018. You heard it here first: it pays to pay attention. No TikTok bop has ingrained itself more in the Gen Z(eitgest) canon and stayed on top since day one – trust me, zaddy. Speak “Hit or miss, I guess they never miss, huh” and the void will yell back: “You got a boyfriend, I bet he doesn’t kiss ya”. In fact, the song’s lyrics beat the likes of “I Don’t Care” by Sheeran and Bieber and “Wish You Were Gay” by our 👑Billie, on Genius in 2019

If you’re looking for the blueprint, this is it. 

Since then, #hitormiss, which itself became a TikTok challenge, has accrued 1.5B views 👁👄👁. But that’s not the tea we want to spill. What happened next is really worth writing about.

who is she?

“Gen Z has my creativity working overtime to keep up 😩😭 THANK YOU. Y’all are my trauma’s silver lining” (20.7M views, Mia’s TikTok from 6/27 )

It’s time to meet the woman of the hour herself: enter Mia Khalifa. Despite appearing in a total of just 11 films in the adult entertainment industry, over the span of 3 months in late 2014, Mia has remained at the forefront of this space – ranking #1 on Pornhub in 2014 and dropping only one place by 2018, the same year her diss track was released. News flash: Mia hasn’t seen a single penny since then. Royalties, anyone? We don’t her. And before we spill any more tea, let it be known that sex work *is* work and its participants and performers are often the most vulnerable to exploitation at the hands of the industry who hold the reins. Grab your tea, let’s talk about it.

“That hourly dissociative attack from remembering hundreds of millions of people’s impression of you is solely based on the lowest, most toxic, most uncharacteristic 3 months of your life when you were 21” - Mia Khalifa (TikTok, 6/18) 

If there’s one good thing about 2020 (bold statement, we know), it’s been the seismic shift in the public perception of Mia Khalifa, all thanks to alt TikTok. Since joining the platform back in January, Mia has amassed just shy of 10M followers in less than six months. Not bad for “probably the most shameful thing that ever happened to Lebanon” – as one TikTok user commented.

The platform has given Mia space to reclaim her narrative, where she often makes content around her own experiences within this industry – utilizing meme culture (the audio is the message on TikTok, never forget) and dueting creators who have come out in support of her, under the hashtag  #justiceformia (currently sitting at 52.7M views). This is important. As Mia’s exposure in-app grew, thanks to the popularization of the # and, of course, “commenting for the algorithm”, so increased her distribution. Once again, the genius of TikTok’s for your page removed all barriers to entry and pushed Mia’s fight to the forefront of our scrolling experiences. And trust us, it’s easy to get lost in the sauce of that never ending fyp. 

But the battle is far from over.  In response, Bangbros, the studio at the heart of this dispute (yeah, sorry about the name 🤢), clapped back with a cease & desist against Mia and have even set up a site to “counter” all of her claims, ofc most remain sourceless. Real classy work there, fellas. FYI: they’re still making a pretty penny off the back of these videos. Never ones to shy away from a challenge, Gen Z said: “hold our whiteclaw” and jumped to action. ‘Help Mia Khalifa’ (a Change petition, what else?!) has already hit 1.8M signatures. ✒️

“people dehumanize her on the daily...she has been slut shamed her entire life. We need to bully the hub to take down her vids. gen z” - a call to arms from TikTok user @iisabellabello under #justiceformia 

When Mia found out about her petition, she hopped straight to TikTok, captioning her vid: “Can’t make fun of Elon Musk ever again, cause I’m naming my first born GenZ”. High Tea gang, we simply love to see it. And if that wasn’t the icing on the cake, iLOVEFRiDAY crawled out of the woodwork with an apology TikTok (they’re the new notes app apologies, icymi), stating “we made that song two years ago, we were young and we were dumb...moving forward we apologize to Mia Khalifa...no more diss songs...I am all for her videos getting taken down”. 

Alt TikTok, you’ve done it again 👏. Justice for Mia? Watch this space. 

another one bytes the dust 

With Moop threatening to leave TikTok already this week, the alt exodus to byte is showing no signs of slowing. With a threat of TikTok hitting and quitting it on us growing ever more apparent, it’s clear that the team at byte are listening to their influx of new users and working to create more channels for Zs that pass the vibe check. Cue, /frogs, /alt, /witches and...wait for it...each channel has its own design which makes everything feel native and custom to each community. It’s lowkey an eclectic mix of subreddit, discord and TikTok. Okay, maybe we’ll byte.

High Tea 🐸☕ prediction: once byte’s channel creation opens up, you can bet our #phrog dollar we’ll see many communities diving in to create their own third spaces to hang out, especially with byte’s rapidly growing user base. Distribution is 👑. Stay tuned!

kettles on: ones to watch

🛍we don’t ship it. Listen, we’re all for social commerce. We dedicated a whole dispatch to it back in May. But Insta, wyd? This week the platform launched a new update that replaced the activity tab with a shop page. To say people are shook would be an understatement. It’s almost as if they don’t knowww that the only reason we’re using Insta these days is to keep connected to our pals during quarantine. Replacing it with ‘Shop’ when 32 million Americans are jobless feels...off. 

💆‍♀️Twitter’s slack hack. You’ve no doubt heard the news, Elon, Kanye, Obama and many more big names had their accounts hacked on Twitter this week. Normally such dry news would not make it into our Sunday dispatch, but pals, this week we couldn’t resist. Hacker Kirk had got access to the Twitter credentials when, and we quote, “he found a way into Twitter’s internal Slack messaging channel and saw them posted there, along with a service that gave him access to the company’s servers.” Yes, Twitter had its login credentials pinned to a Slack channel. We’ll just leave this here... 

🐸what_frog_you_are. Remember the days when you used to sift through the plastic keychains to find your name. Well, we’re doing the same thing on Insta. Enter the account @what_frog_you_are, a 219K strong Insta account that posts pics of frogs with your name in fancy rainbow font. Barely a week old and already receiving serious clout, frogs have since given rise to @whatdogareyou and @what_cow_you_are. Oh and just in case you were wondering, here’s us: 🐸🐮

Okay, you made it, now you can go back to getting justice for Mia.


Alice & Faye

🎶 TikTok on the clock

but the party won’t stop, no

You are cordially invited to this week’s brew of High Tea, your dispatch of 🔥 internet culture served piping hot. This week: say it ain’t so for the savage TikTok fall out, byte goes from dog’s dinner to every dog has its day and we don’t miss a (Avenue) beat when it comes to cOmMeNtInG fOr tHe aLgOrItHm. 

Drink up 🐸☕

Avenue Beat, F2020

what we’ve been sipping on

Tl;dr it’s been a week. Listen, I know we've been stuck on our cyclical woes like a broken record as of late, but let us have this one pls. Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any worse, we’re suddenly faced with the thought of a world without TikTok. Cue the Wilhelm scream, a dramatic Phil Collins drum solo and sling us a couple of spiked teas for this 💔 moment. And please, respect our privacy at this difficult time.

You already know we love to wax lyrical about TikTok here. To put it bluntly: we’re obsessed, 🚫🧢, no apology necessary. Bear with us for a hot sec. Forget the dancers, forget the D’Amelios, forget the e-ᗷᕼᑌᗴᔕᒍYᗴᔕ: TikTok has engrained itself into the shitshow that is ‘2020 culture’, as the #1 music discovery platform for Zs. You can quote us on that. 🐸☕

👶have you ever met a real rockstar?

 “I don’t even use TikTok...is that the same thing as Triller?” - DaBaby, October 1st 2019

DaBaby. Let’s talk about it. No teen on TikTok in America right now has made it more than ten minutes on their for you page without hearing “brand new Lamborghini, fuck a cop car”, and that’s on TikTok’s *chef’s kiss* algorithm. We are, ofc, talking about DaBaby’s ROCKSTAR (ft. Rody Ricch), the stand out track from BLAME IT ON BABY, which has quickly cemented itself into our unofficial quarantine soundtrack. Less than 3 months since its release in April, the bop has positively exploded on TikTok: 5.6M videos (and counting), plus a Hot 100 stickiness – which has kept it at #1 for the past 4 weeks in the US, 6 weeks in the UK and 8 weeks in Ireland. 👀🇮🇪

DaBaby is just one of many artists that we’ve seen fall into this pattern as of late; Doja Cat’s Say So (20.3M TikTok vids) and Megan Thee Stallion’s Savage (30.2M TikTok vids) have enjoyed similar viral success on TikTok, the latter of which became March’s most played song on the platform with 7.6B views. Both songs paid respect to the app’s part in their success: Doja Cat scooped up 17-year-old Haley Sharpe (aka @yodelinghayley), creator of the Say So dance, for her official music video, while Beyoncé’s verse on the Savage remix “Hips tik tok when I dance”, pays its respect to Keara Wilson (aka @keke.janajah), who created its viral choreographed counterpart. Of course, both bangers secured their #1 spots with lowkey co-signs from Nicki and Beyoncé...if you’ve ever heard of them. 

guys!! guess where you’ll be seeing me tomorrow?! tune into doja cat’s youtube channel tomorrow at 10 am ET to watch the premiere of say so!!<3 #dojacatsayso 🥺🤪🤩
February 26, 2020

“your For You feed gives you additional opportunities to stumble upon new content categories, discover new creators, and experience new perspectives and ideas as you scroll through your feed...by offering different videos from time to time, the system is also able to get a better sense of what's popular among a wider range of audiences” - TikTok, 2020

On TikTok there’s no time, but there’s also no time to waste. Early adopters from the industry world have also been rewarded with a piece of the TikTok pie, by latching on to smaller creators Doing Bits™ in this fleeting music space. After using the Lopez Brothers as backing dancers for his single FREAK (ft. Megan Thee Stallion) in mid-March, Tyga one-upped himself by hopping on Curtis Roach’s viral quarantine sensation, Bored In The House (42M views), just two weeks later.

The ridiculousness doesn’t stop there. Tyga’s remix of Drip Report’s Sketcher’s capitalized on an existing one billion streams on TikTok, and, similar to The Kid LAROI’s ‘Addison Rae’, Tyga teased 15 seconds of the track with “should we drop it 🔥??”, set to a backdrop of Netflix’s Tiger King. It just doesn’t get more 2020 than that. 

Why reinvent the wheel when there’s so much low-hanging fruit for the taking on TikTok? Make it make sense! That being said, whatever you do, don’t be a Jason Derulo: aka sampling Jawsh 685’s Laxed for his new release, Savage Love, without credit. Hmmm...we thought that sounded familiar. 🐸☕

“Part of the magic of TikTok is that there's no one For You feed – while different people may come upon some of the same standout videos, each person's feed is unique and tailored to that specific individual.” - TikTok, 2020 

TikTok sounds used in Addison Rae’s most recent videos, from unknown creators, which no doubt made it onto Addison’s for your page 👀

Before we get lost down the TikTok rabbit hole, we just gotta say this: the genius of the for you page is in its universal individualism. The #fyp is the largest algorithmic fishing net you could possibly imagine, and, since the medium is the message – we’re scraping the ocean floor with this one. Once hailed as one of TikTok’s most mysterious features, this subtly curated feed is now the best way to tell what the next #1 is going to be. Hey, it was fun while it lasted. 

While we still got TikTok in our hearts and in our hands, look no further for the next break out song of 2020….

lowkey fk 2020

Off beat? Nah: Avenue Beat. Meet Sam, Savana and Sami of Avenue Beat, the girl group who reached #9 on iTunes yday for their brand new song F2020 (a certified bop)...with a little help from TikTok. How? These gals are smart, smart. Not long after the US declared lockdown, the three decided to move in together to continue working on their music; and also upped their TikTok game. Not only were all three now posting that good good 👉👈 relatable content that tapped straight into the Z zeitgeist (cc. #hititfergie, #retainers, #idrlyb), they also released new music: ‘thank u anxiety’ and their digital EP ‘the quarantine covers’ over the same period. Listen, some of y’all don’t release music that matches your TikTok brand and it shows.

On June 27, Avenue Beat dropped their first sneak peek of F2020 on TikTok, with the caption “day 1 of tryna get this song we wrote to pop off so our manager will release it lol heLp.” The song was such a banger, with self-deprecating lyrics the whole world could vibe to: “my cat died / and a global pandemic took over my life / and I put out some music that nobody liked / so I got really sad and bored at the same time / that’s why I’m like fuck 2020”. Within 24 hours they achieved 4.5M views (now 12M views and counting). The track was so on the money, a mere week later they let all their stans know: F2020 was coming fr. 

“no one's ever going to let us put this out, why don't we just throw it up on TikTok so it has a place to live. Then it got four million views.” - Savana Santos, NYLON

‘cause this is Triller, Triller’s night

With Pompeo pulling up with the imminent threat of a TikTok ban lurking, where to next for the US market and our beloved matriarchs of hype? We think India might have some answers. Since TikTok was banned at the end of June, we’ve been waiting with baited breath to see who nabs the top spot and we’re already seeing signs of nature healing. Triller, the social video platform, is trending and it’s jump from 0 to hero is almost too good not to mention. Sitting around a modest 400 in the iOS charts in early June, Triller has skyrocketed this week to 1st place (we weren’t kidding when we say it’s been a journey) and looks to be a solid contender for replacing the TikTok sized gap in our lives. Also catching our 👁👄👁is byte, aka Vine 2.0, which has also had an insane week of monumental climbs. Peep the US iOS DL stats below, (thanks App Tweak), the jump has us shook. 

Many of these DLs are from members of alt-TikTok hoping to dominate byte’s equivalent of the for you page before the ‘straight’ TikTokers eventually make it over. TL;DR they aren’t as impressed with the millennial content they see, and are quick to call out the major differences to TikTok, but the lack of Hype House and big name influencers has the alts gassed. Byte does it for the girls and the gays, that’s it? Stay tuned 👀.

Make no mistake, friends: the true winner of the platform wars will be decided by the moves of our gal Charli D’Amelio (who reached 70M followers on TikTok this week, no less). We’re keeping tabs on which app our dancing qween heads next, because as ya’ll know, it’s an absolute sure thing that whoever gets the gal, will get the Zs on 🔒.

kettle’s on: ones to watch

  • catfished by a cake. First it was sourdough, now the internet is going mad for sponge with a strange twist that has cakes looking uncannily like other foods, and that’s not even the end of it. The absolute artistry now has everyone paranoid that everything *could* be a cake, cue the new Twitter memes that have us questioning the meaning of life. 

  • fyp.rip. Worried about storing your viral vids once TikTok gets the heave ho? We got u. Now you can own a copy of your original TikTok content via fyp.rip, the new tool that downloads all of your original content and then sends all of your internet goodies to your email. You’re welcome 💅

  • TikTok to the streets. We don’t know how it happened, but we’re so glad it did. Chinese streetwear TikTok has exploded onto our algorithms, and we’re so hype(beast) for it. While we skulk about in our quarantine pieces, the streetwear gods and goddesses from across the globe show us the true definition of fashion killa: bang bang, boom boom, pop, pop. 😎

Okay, you made it. Now comment for the algorithm 🙏.


Alice & Faye

💅i need a bad bitch: addison rae

how the tables have turned

You are cordially invited to this week’s brew of High Tea, your dispatch of 🔥internet culture served piping hot. This week: the social blueprint for the future of celebrity 2.0, influencers meet their matcha 🍵, and MrBeast keeps his mischievous finger on the pulse. 

Drink up 🐸☕

what we’ve been sipping on:

Oh god. Are you tired? Because we’re exhausted. It’s been a week, let’s get into it. After a decade online and 3.5 billion views later, Jenna Marbles (aka the YouTube 🐐), has officially quit the internet after controversial videos from her past resurfaced. Next up: YouTube snatched Shane Dawson’s bag *indefinitely*, demonetizing all three of his YouTube channels (we’re talking serious bread), while Target and Morphe have removed all of his products from their stores. Let’s just say this: Shane’s ‘Taking Accountability’ (13M views and counting 👀) “apology” video doesn’t even come close. Honey, it’s time to do better. And one last thing on bigwigs behaving badly: instead of third-degree burns from the piping hot tea, we’ve only got secondhand embarrassment from the beta-only mess that spilled over this week. Big yikes. 

move over midas, 2020 is all about the addison touch 

Listen, we know the last thing the world needs rn is more influencers, but if this week has thrown anything into the spotlight, it’s that we need a new rat pack on the block. We say: burn that shit down and build a new brand of social capital and the currency it commands – ground up. A change is gonna come? We hope so. Enter: Addison Rae. 

Hey y’all, i’m doing a signed merch giveaway!! All you have to do to enter is
follow @shopaddisonrae
and comment your favorite emoji on the latest post
and we’ll choose a winner Monday! 🤍 We’re one week away from launch!! Ahhhh! 🥺🥺
April 24, 2020

If the name ‘Addison Rae’ doesn’t ring any bells (or pouty faces), then we gotta take your temperature, hun. You’re not well. Second only to Charli D’Amelio, Addison is hot on this TikTok matriarch's coattails with 48.8M followers and counting. Oh, and did we mention she hasn’t even been on TikTok a year yet? 👁👄👁This TikTok powerhouse isn’t a social empire waiting to happen, she’s *been* making those money moves while we watch, in real time, as she dances her way into the celebrity canon. Rest assured, she’s here to stay.

And the buck($) doesn’t stop there. According to her social blade, Addison is adding-on (lol) just shy of 118k new IG followers per WEEK. By the end of July, that’s a very calm 3.5M new Addison stans to add to her 22M existing strong fam. Are you paying attention now? It’s clear that the power of Addison’s clout is palpable, even as she cultivates her brand (and exactly how much of it she wants to give away 🤑), as her audience grows thick and fast at our feet. Peep her YouTube for starters: a handful of sporadically uploaded videos and 2.6M subscribers might seem far from noteworthy by today’s metrics, not to mention it goes against the holy grail of inherited SoMe success: routine, consistency, clickbait. But when content is queen, Addison makes for internet royalty. 

Addison’s top performing YouTube videos: get ready with me, myself & I

With Addison, it’s ‘give the fans what they want’, rinse and repeat. And when you’re centre of your own content universe (no gimmick, no cap), you get to namecheck your own product and name your own price...all up in the bank with the pouty face 🤑. We’re watching her 15 seconds on TikTok turn into a tangible 15 minutes and then some. Renegades don’t seem so ridiculous now, do they?

But here’s the tea: this influence works both ways. Enter: America’s first family.  

keeping up with addison rae 

We had to come correct with the internet’s OG heritage brand. And not just any Kardashian, but the eldest and arguably the hardest to please (tiktokvoice: *don’t be fucking ruuuude*) Kourtney K, who has been collaborating with our gal Addison on the low for the past week. This is significant: when has Kourtney ever involved herself with an online influencer other than her all-star family? Bible, hardly ever. 

Follow @kardashanvideos for more!
Kourtney and Addison Rae are the latest besties in town
June 24, 2020

ICYMI: Kourtney is pulling up to a world that she needs more than it needs her (sorry, babe). No surprise then, that this Queen of Calabasas has hooked Addy in, not only for TikToks flouting KKW Beauty lip liners, but also YouTube workout vids for Poosh, Kourtney’s lifestyle business. Bag secured? Numbers don’t lie. 100M views on TikTok content alone is certainly something to shake your skims at. Her presence is a present – kiss my cash. 

But here’s where it gets really interesting.  

“The for you page has made it so easy for people to see music they’ve never seen before. It’s really important to me that I do have that influence on other people and their music taste” – Addison Rae

We *been knowing* that TikTok has its foot in the music space for some time, catapulting unknowns into Billboard’s Hot 100 and beyond. Lest we forget, after Old Town Road climbed to #1, Lil Nas X stays saying “I should maybe be paying TikTok” 👀. He said what he said. But this ain’t about the Yeehaw agenda, rather, up and comers are doubling down on ways to hack audio as the meme – ensuring their bop goes dumb viral on the platform. This is where shawty the baddest comes in. 

Now, if you ain’t on The Kid LAROI...hurry up bc this kid has no time to waste. Since his 2019 No Jumper debut, Australia’s finest 16-year-old freshman has been knocking the certified bangers out of the park. So, when he teased a snippet of ‘Addison Rae’ on TikTok in March with the caption “should I drop this?!”, well, the internet already knew the answer. Addison’s reaction to the track has now been viewed more than 108M times. 

“I know that if I post it on TikTok then it’s gonna get me some traction...that’s all it was” - The Kid LAROI 

It’s no surprise, then, that this 🎶 phenomenon has inspired a series of copycats, most notably JusRyan’s ‘Addison Rae’, which, despite dropping just last month, already feels outdated with its opening: “girl you know you got that 40M”. C’mon boys, you’ve got to make the money moves faster than that to keep up with this Y2K baddie. 50k for a TikTok, no album out? Addison-Rae that shit already.

fingers in all the (clout) pies

Speaking of clout capital, we can’t go any further without mentioning the monstrous collaboration between 🐐creative studio MSCHF and none other than big-time YouTuber MrBeast himself. Launched last week, Finger On The App is a trip, but then again, we expected nothing less from these two media mavericks. What is so beautiful about this campaign, is how we can see glimpses of the synergy: MSCHF for the out-of-the-box thinking and MrBeast for spontaneous acts of philanthropy; and ofc, it’s proving to be a winning combination. 

So, what’s the big idea? The app requires nothing more from its player than asking them to simply hold down their finger on the screen. The last person to remove their finger, wins up to $25,000. Seems simple, right? Well, Logan Paul had thoughts:

10 minutes post launch and 1M players are battling it out. 4 hours later, it’s #1 on iOS App Store and still 450K are left in the race. Next comes the trolling, “Hey Z Ree” becomes one of the most potent ways to decimate other players, as they stream their gameplay live on Twitch. Why? It activates voice assistant Siri (as if we needed another excuse to get rid) and causes you to exit the app and lose the game. These kids don’t play, or maybe they do 😏.

By 4pm on day 2 only 54 remain: 5 of them are still live streaming and 1 is documenting his journey on TikTok having amassed 300,000 followers in a day. High Tea fam, are you keeping up? The next day, MrBeast starts making calls to the remaining 13 finger twitchers, offering $2000+ to take their paws off right there and then. All of them declined. It’s getting tense. Friday morning rolls around, the holiday long weekend no less, and you can actually start to hear the woe in their voices. When MrBeast makes his final calls, one poor sod actually says: “I just...I want this to end…” before accepting $10,000 to take his finger off. By 11am, 4 remain. 

Then Mr Beast calls it. It’s all over. $20,000 is now on it’s way to all 4 of the remaining players. No doubt they all hopped straight into bed to sleep off the repetitive thumb strain and catch up on some much needed shut-eye. 

This iconic internet culture mo is the direct result of what can happen when you afford high profile creators another vessel through which to channel their personal brand. MrBeast reached the #1 free game on the App Store and not only that, MSCHF managed to secure #1 in the Lifestyle category for it’s core app and #18 overall – the best it’s historically ever reached in the charts. For MrBeast, MSCHF (and Finger On The App) was the perfect brand partner to exercise his vision beyond YouTube: a perfectly curated and seamless digital extension of himself. For MSCHF, MrBeast proved to be the Trojan Horse that helped propel their DLs more than ever before. Repeat after me, 👏 influencer 👏 marketing 👏 is 👏not 👏 dead 👏. Move over physical merch, we think we’re at the genesis of influencer x brand software collabs for ridiculous social clout (especially in the age of FB ad boycotts); something that traditional marketers would have previously paid $$$$ to get their hands on (pun intended). 

Okay, you made it. Now grab another bev and put your phone back on ✈️ mode.


Alice & Faye

Loading more posts…