BRISBANE — TikTok may be engaged in an extraordinary legal stoush with the White House, but that’s not slowing its expansion plans into Australasia.
With effect from Aug. 31, triple j stalwart Ollie Wards joins TikTok as director of music for Australia and New Zealand, a new position.
As the Sydney-based company’s latest senior hire, Wards will be expected to drive its music strategy in Australia and New Zealand, and he’ll oversee emerging and established artists and their role within TikTok’s creator community, a spokesperson says.
Formerly network head at triple j, Wards will be tasked with building partnerships with local artists, talent managers, record labels and distributors to execute campaigns and “build music careers” across ANZ.
TikTok has become a “real force in music discovery for audiences locally and around the world,” comments Wards in a statement. “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.”
The incoming music director joined triple j, the state-funded national youth broadcaster, as a breakfast show producer in 2010. Two years later, he was promoted to Program Director and, in 2016, was named network head.
Wards joins the company following the appointment of former Google and YouTube executive Lee Hunter as general manager for TikTok Australia and New Zealand, alongside several executive posts.
With Wards’ wealth of experience, explains Hunter, “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.”
Following the TikTok-powered success of Jawsh 685, Benee, and other emerging artists from these parts, the company embarked on a local recruitment drive with no less than nine positions advertised in January, including head of content and operations, head of communications, legal counsel, brand strategists, and partnerships managers.
Owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, TikTok is a big deal in Australia, particularly with younger demographics. According to market research firm Roy Morgan, at least 1.6 million Australians use the streaming platform’s app or visit its website each month. Its official Instagram page for Australia boasts 3.1 million followers and 20.3 million “likes.”