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Meet the social media stars who every earned greater than $1 million posting brief movies on the app that President Trump likes to hate.


Shortly after President Trump threatened to ban TikTok final weekend, 19-year-old Addison Rae Easterling did what she does finest. She posted a short-form video imagining her life with out the wildly common social media app: She’d return to LSU, the place she began out as a freshman final yr learning broadcast journalism.

 However Easterling isn’t simply one of many tens of millions of TikTok teenagers who publish goofy dance movies on the Chinese language-owned platform for enjoyable. She is its top-earning star, bringing in an estimated $5 million final yr, because of her 54.1 million followers, her new make-up line (Merchandise Magnificence) and offers with American Eagle and Spotify. “TikTok is what obtained me to the place I’m,” Easterling says. 

Whereas the destiny of TikTok’s possession remains to be unclear, one factor is definite: Few individuals have gotten extra out of the video-sharing app than Addison Rae and the six different younger celebrities on Forbes’ first-ever record of TikTok’s highest-paid stars. These viral video creators—all of whom earned no less than $1 million within the 12 months by means of June—have solely simply begun to monetize their fame, primarily by means of gross sales of personally branded merchandise and sponsored content material for manufacturers reminiscent of Sony, Chipotle and Revlon.  

—Extra reporting by Maddie Berg and Justin Conklin


A yr in the past, Easterling was simply settling into life at LSU and making choreographed TikToks that drew on a childhood as a aggressive dancer. She hit 1 million followers by the autumn—she remembers the day precisely: October 27—and was getting acknowledged round campus: “My identify could be referred to as out after I was strolling to class, which was fairly thoughts blowing,” Easterling remembers. Youthful teenagers at LSU soccer video games would ask to get their image taken along with her.

That fall she posted her first sponsored content material posts, for Trend Nova, an internet girls’s clothes retailer, and in December, she left faculty for Los Angeles to pursue celebritydom full time. There, she turned buddies with a bunch of TikTok stars and helped fashioned Hype Home, a content material creator collective, which elevated her profile additional. Enterprise alternatives adopted. On the first, she obtained the everyday offers to do her personal branded merchandise and sponsored content material from manufacturers like Reebok and watch firm Daniel Wellington. All collectively, these two income streams accounted for two-thirds of her estimated earnings. 

In July, she turned the principle international spokesperson for American Eagle, a task that can splash her picture throughout each digital and conventional TV and print adverts for the teenager clothes firm. That very same month she began internet hosting a weekly Spotify podcast along with her mother, Sheri Nicole, referred to as Mama Is aware of Finest. (“We wish to break the barrier and get into conversations that almost all youngsters would really feel uncomfortable asking their mother and father about.”) Her make-up line, Merchandise Magnificence, a three way partnership with magnificence startup Madeby, drops its first merchandise on-line subsequent week together with a bronzer, eyeshadow, brightening powder—and the pièce de résistance, the $14 Lash Snack. “Mascara,” Easterling explains. “It has castor oil in it, so it’s a deal with to your eyelashes.”


After posting on TikTok for the primary time in June 2019, she had a sequence of dance movies go viral final summer season and fall. Shortly afterwards, singer Bebe Rexha invited Charli to hitch her in opening for the Jonas Brothers on the Barclay Middle in Brooklyn.

Issues occurred quick from there. She left her hometown of Norwalk, Connecticut, and moved to LA. She went on Jimmy Fallon. She chronicled her time at Paris Trend Week for Prada on TikTok. She struck sponsorship offers with firms like EOS cosmetics and appeared in a Tremendous Bowl business for Sabra hummus. She and her sister Dixie (No. 3) made frequent movies with Hype Home, and the sisters have additionally introduced an settlement to be the brand new faces of Hollister. And in Could, Charli turned 16. She celebrated the second as any younger influencer may: including to her line of Charli-branded merchandise a brand new, restricted version $60 hoodie, a drawing of her in glasses and a birthday hat emblazoned on it.


Because the older sister of Charli D’Amelio (No. 2), Dixie finds her fame absolutely intertwined along with her sister’s. They each left dwelling to stay in LA. They seem in a lot of one another’s movies on TikTok, the place Dixie has 32 million followers. And in the previous few months, the D’Amelios signed joint offers with Hollister with Morphe, a cosmetics firm. Dixie, in the meantime, is placing out on her personal along with her music profession, releasing her first single, “Be Joyful,” in June. It has gathered 58 million streams, and at launch, turned the No. 1 trending video on YouTube, forward of a Kayne West-Travis Scott music video additionally launched that day. 


When Loren Grey first began out, she went by means of a string of unhealthy expertise managers, she says, who misguided her and botched some early sponsorship offers. It left her decided to observe her personal thoughts. “The one one that is aware of easy methods to model Loren Grey and be Loren Grey is Loren Grey,” she says in an interview that, true to her sentiment, consists of no agent, supervisor or PR flack.

This mentality has labored out fairly nicely for her to date. In 2018, she obtained a take care of Virgin Data and has since launched eight singles. Till this spring, Grey had the largest fanbase of any TikToker, main her to land sponcon offers with Skechers, Hyundai and Burger King. Her main focus for the time being is her new Revlon deal, creating content material for the corporate’s TikTok account and Revlon-sponsored posts for hers. “It’s extra of a creator position than simply doing what somebody says for 60 seconds,” the utmost size of a TikTok, explains Grey, “They’re very versatile and provides me a number of artistic freedom.”


To finest capitalize on fame, “it’s about creating firms or getting fairness in firms,” Josh Richards says. “Influencers have to discover ways to correctly monetize.”

To make certain, he’s carried out loads of conventional TikTok money-making: sponsorship offers with Reebok and HouseParty, a merch line, YouTube advert income, a brand new song-making take care of Warner Data. However he’s additionally cofounded his personal expertise administration firm, TalentX, and his personal drink enterprise, Ani Vitality—and joined the c-suite of Triller, a smaller TikTok rival, as its chief technique officer, a deal that compensated him with an fairness stake within the startup. 

Positioning himself as a considerate media government is a reasonably sweeping change from what his picture has been: TikTok’s resident heartthrob and unhealthy boy. After getting on TikTok final yr whereas dwelling close to Toronto, Canada, Richards achieved fast fame for his dance, singing and lip-synching movies—and for a persona he describes as “edgy teen.” He has performed up feuds with different influencers on social media and cofounded Sway Home, the TikTok collective that has developed a repute for events and hijinks. (Two members of Sway have been arrested in Texas on drug prices in Could after breaking Covid-19 lockdown in California.) “It was chaotic there” at Sway Home, says Richards, who has lately moved out of the group’s LA dwelling. “I used to be happening a path I hadn’t deliberate on.”


Michael Le is just not a shy man. “I’m pushing to be the highest influencer on TikTok,” he says, sprawled shirtless on a mattress within the LA mansion that he and 4 others are presently renting. Like a number of others on this record, he too has began a TikTok collective, and that 9,000-square-foot house is the HQ of his Shluv Home—Shluv being a portmanteau of kinds for “self-love.” “I understand how to tug all of it collectively,” says Le, 20. “To make each video be a skit, be one thing that’s extra than simply placing your telephone down” and recording willy-nilly.

Two of his movies from earlier this yr that characteristic him dancing on a descending escalator—one with his 5 year-old brother, Jonathan, who’s a Shluv cofounder—are among the many most shared content material ever on the app, accumulating a complete of 478 million views. Amongst Le’s sponcon offers is his years-long partnership with Bang power drinks, on whose behalf he posts a number of occasions every week. YouTube is subsequent, he says. Jonathan shall be a costar there, too, the place movies that includes youngsters are extremely common. The aim? “Pushing 5—5 plus—sequence,” Le says. “Actually turning into large.”


Spencer X longs to listen to the magic phrases. “When Coachella is like, Hey, Spencer you’re the man—you’re headlining Coachella as a beatboxer.” Or these phrases. “You’re additionally on Saturday Night time Stay subsequent week, and also you’re internet hosting.” 

Slightly TikTok fame can encourage some wild-sounding desires, and people come naturally to Spencer, 28. Spencer, who devoted his childhood to obsessively learning beatbox YouTube clips, desires to be the primary big-time celeb beatboxer. After dropping out of Buy Faculty, he spent his 20s taking any performing gig he might land, together with ones with a bluegrass group, an a cappela quintet and a Russian rock band.

He obtained on TikTok in February 2019, and by the next fall, he’d moved to LA, the place he was sofa browsing, juggling a financial institution stability of some hundred {dollars}—and attempting to show his 10 million or so followers on TikTok into an actual profession. Quickly sponsorships with Uno, Oreo and Sony made that appear much more doable. He’s presently holed up in his personal two-floor Hollywood pad engaged on what he hopes turns into his first singles. “I’m right here to point out those that loads is feasible in what we thought was unattainable.”

Methodology


We estimated pre-tax earnings that these stars took in from June 30, 2019 by means of June 30, 2020. To estimate what they made, we talked to the influencers themselves, brokers, managers, entrepreneurs and traders. This record focuses on stars native to TikTok, and for that motive, it doesn’t embody conventional celebs like Dwayne Johnson and Jason Derulo or YouTubers like Zach King and David Dobrick, all of whom have giant followings on TikTok.



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