TikTok has today announced Ollie Wards as its first Director of Music for Australia and New Zealand.
Soon to join after a ten-year career at triple j, Wards’ appointment comes as part of TikTok’s growth strategy in the region and builds on the platform’s powerful impact on music consumption both locally and around the globe.
Joining TikTok at the end of the month, Wards will drive the music strategy for the platform locally, overseeing emerging and established artists and their role within TikTok’s creator community. He will be responsible for building partnerships with local artists, talent managers, record labels and distributors to execute successful campaigns and build music careers, across Australia and New Zealand.
With labels now utilising the app as an A&R pool for emerging artists and as a launchpad for new chart hits, Ollie’s role will be pivotal in establishing TikTok’s home in the Kiwi and Australian music ecosystem.
Commenting on his appointment, Wards said: “TikTok has become a real force in music discovery for audiences locally and around the world. With so much great talent in both Australia and my native New Zealand, there’s a massive opportunity for artists to be discovered and connect with fans on TikTok. I’m excited to be helping with that. I’ll probably not be creating my own dance videos though, I don’t think that’d help anyone!”
Wards joined triple j as a breakfast show producer in 2010, quickly rising to become Program Director in 2012 and Network Head in 2016. Throughout his time at the jays, the industry veteran drove the success of the radio station’s major initiatives like Hottest 100 and Like a Version, and oversaw the growth of Triple J Unearthed to become radio’s leading force for discovering and supporting new, independent Australian artists.
TikTok Australia and New Zealand general manager Lee Hunter said Wards’ credentials were impeccable: “Music is a special part of TikTok’s creative DNA and here in Australia, we’ve seen some amazing local artists catch their break by leaning into the platform’s celebration of originality, creativity and our global user base. With Ollie’s wealth of experience, I know he’s the right leader to build TikTok’s place in discovery and support of emerging local artists and fostering strong, long term partnerships with the local music industry. I look forward to supporting Ollie’s vision for TikTok talent across the Tasman and watching how this further inspires the creativity of our local community.”
Since its launch in 2017, TikTok’s impact on music and culture has been significant, with more than 50 songs that originated on the platform making it into the top 25 on the US Billboard charts. Culturally, ideas and creative expression fuelled by music on TikTok have redefined how users entertain and interact with each other and crucially, how music and artists are discovered, spreading across the platform and beyond at lightning speed. The app’s unique and accessible structure provides the opportunity for all songs to thrive no matter what the artist’s popularity is outside of the app.
From its early origins breaking global hits such as Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’, TikTok has seen a healthy talent pool of Australian and New Zealand based stars breakthrough, including:
• Aucklander BENEE, who this year cracked Australian radio’s Top 5 singles for her hit ‘Supalonely’
• Perth based singer, rapper and producer Jaycee who is now the top domestic music artist by follower count in Australia
• Sam Fischer, famous for his track ‘This City’
• Victorian former busker, Tones & I, known for the hit ‘Dance Monkey’
• DJ Dom Dolla, who has enjoyed a number of global TikTok trends
• The Kid Laroi, who has had a couple of breakthrough hits and is now signed to a label in the US
• Jawsh 685, a Pacific Islander living in New Zealand with one of the biggest tracks of all time- Savage Love, remixed by Jason Derulo
Globally, TikTok continues to be an innovator in the music space, this month delivering an unforgettable experience for fans with The Weeknd Experience, an interactive XR broadcast. The first-of-its-kind virtual musical experience raised the bar for TikTok livestreams, racking up more than 2 million total views on TikTok LIVE and smashing the TikTok record with 275,000 concurrent viewers at its peak. Creations with #TheWeekndEXP hashtag earned more than 1.3 billion video views.
Ollie Wards officially joins TikTok on Monday 31 August.
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