TikTok's Top Teens Have More Followers Than Ariana Grande and Bruno Mars

Turning short videos into music careers.

The micro-vlogging platform TikTok has led to a massive resurgence of short, user-generated videos that people have been craving ever since the fall of Vine. The app has amassed hundreds of millions of followers — many of them who seem to be teens — around the globe who are there to watch brief, punchy clips of their favorite influencers taking on a viral challenge or to show off their dance moves.

TikTok’s rise has turned the heads of governments and created a whole new breed of young celebrities with millions of followers at their fingertips, many of whom used their unexpected fame to kickstart music careers. Instead of gaming or producing long-form vlogs to cultivate a following, like Tyler “Ninja” Blevins or Jake Paul, TikTok power-users engage with their audience in a uniformly bite-size way, in the process translating exposure into mini business empires.

Many of TikTok’s already have substantially more followers — or “fans” as they’re called on the app — than the celebrities on much more established platforms like YouTube and Twitch. The most popular accounts on the platform all first rose to stardom on Musical.ly, a lip-syncing social media app that was acquired by TikTok’s parent company ByteDance in 2017.

tiktok global users every month
TikTok has seen explosive growth around the world.

These influencers were charging up to $300,000 per sponsored post, according to Influencer Marketing Hub during their Musical.ly days, giving many of the TikTok-native celebrities something of a common origin. But that could be about to change, now that the app has begun to attract celebrities who were famous in their own right like Jimmy Fallon. Here are four of TikTok’s biggest home-made stars.

4. Lisa and Lena - 32.2 Million Followers

Lisa and Lena Mantler are 16-year-old identical twins from Stuttgart, Germany who were the most-followed TikTok as of February 5. The duo’s rise to fame began on Musical.ly where they created lip synched video and synchronized dancing clips. They’ve become so popular that they’ve expanded their posts on TikTok to include comedy bits and general vlog videos about everyday things, like cooking and skateboarding.

They’ve since used their online fame to start the clothing line, J1MO71 and they even released a song, titled Not My Fault, to promote the brand in 2017. They have slightly more followers on TikTok than Ariana Grande has on YouTube.

3. Loren Gray - 30 Million Followers

Loren Gray Beech is a 16-year-old living in Pottstown, Pennsylvania who used her massive following to sign a deal with Virgin Records in March of last year.

Her newfound music career began when she joined Musical.ly in 2015 and has since released three of her own singles. Her most recent song, “Queen,” has garnered 4.5 million views on YouTube and was covered by Billboard and MTV. She has more followers on TikTok than Bruno Mars has on YouTube.

2. Baby Ariel - 29.3 Million Followers

Ariel Rebecca Martin is 18-years-old, based out of South Florida, and has used her Musical.ly and TikTok following to begin a music career, much like Beech. She first began posting videos on Musical.ly in 2015.

She’s since led the widely publicized anti-bulling campaign, #ArielMovement, released her first single in 2017 under the Creative Artists Agency, and was named on of the most influential people on the Internet by Time the same year. She has more followers than Eminem does on Twitter.

1. Jacob Sartorius - 19.9 Million Followers

Rolf Jacob Sartorius a 16-year-old who, living in Tulsa, Oklahoma jumped into the spotlight in 2015. By 2016 he had released his debut single “Sweatshirt” that now has 53 million views on YouTube and reached the Hot 100 Charts in the United States and Canada that year.

He released his EP “Better With You” in November of 2018, which didn’t gain as much traction as his pervious work but still clocked 3 million views on YouTube. Sartorius has more than double the amount of followers than Gordon Ramsey has on Twitter.

Media via Sensor Tower, Lisa and Lena, Loren Gray, Baby Ariel, Jacob Sartorius, TikTok, Danny Paez