How To Develop a Music App Like TikTok?

Published: May 13, 2019

11 min read

Last updated: May 2, 2022

Try to guess what I’m talking about:

  • The most downloaded (non-game) application in the Apple App Store globally in the Q1 of 2018.
  • 6th most downloaded app (if you combine App Store and Google Play) in the World Q1 2018.
  • 500 Million Monthly Active Users Worldwide.

Any ideas? Yup, that’s TikTok, one of 2018's bangers. You may like it, you may hate it, but you can hardly argue with numbers:

Stats by Mediakix

Why is it so popular? How is it different from other music and video apps? How to develop an app like TikTok? Can your business use the hype? What are the must-have features? How much will the development cost?

Whoa, slow your roll. We’ll cover all these questions, so make a cup of tea or coffee, settle and let’s rock (after all, we’re talking about a music app, right?)!

📱 Music Streaming App vs Video Streaming App vs Social Music Video App

When you decide to make own media app like TikTok it’s crucial to have a clear vision of what you’re building. Differents apps solve different pains and target different audiences so it’s not an idle talk.

If you thought about TikTok as a music or video streaming app, it’s actually different. Let’s see.

🎧 Music Streaming App


Spotify, Tidal, Google Play Music, Apple Music

Key Idea:

Allows listening to music without buying songs and albums separately (a subscription-based model)

Core Features:

Listen to music, create playlists, a radio

In a nutshell, such apps are all about listening to music. They are great because for a monthly fee you can listen to any artists and songs without limits and the need to buy their songs and albums (which may cost more than your subscription for a month).

Music streaming apps are also great for exploring new songs. They use machine learning and matching algorithms to generate playlists that fit users’ preferences and smoothly introduce new music to them.

🎥 Video Streaming App


1️⃣ Periscope, Twitch; 2️⃣ Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime

Key Idea:

The first group of apps is used to share live video streams whether it’s just a personal talk, a football match or a game walkthrough. The second group of apps works like music streaming apps but for TV Shows and Series

Core Features:

1️⃣ Broadcast a live video, leave comments to other videos; 2️⃣ Watch TV content, get recommendations

As you could see, Video Streaming apps can be broken into 2 categories.

Let’s start with Periscope-like apps. Despite they may seem somewhat similar to TikTok, they have more differences than common points:

  • They are mainly made for live streaming while you don’t have such a feature in TikTok.
  • TikTok videos must be up to 60 seconds while live video applications allow streaming for hours.
  • On the other hand, you won’t find many editing tools in Periscope-like apps, and for TikTok it’s one of the essential features.

Apps like Netflix and Hulu are subscription-based services for watching movies, shows, and series that work similarly to music streaming applications.

So if you want to create a video sharing app of such a type, that would be a completely another case.

🤳 Social Music Video App


TikTok, Dubsmash, (before it was merged with TikTok)

Key Idea:

Users are able to make short clips, share them and interact with other users

Core Features:

Video editing tools, social features (likes and comments), a chat

Finally, if you want to build an app like TikTok you’re definitely thinking about Social Music Video App. What are their special features?

  • Such applications include many video editing tools like masks, filters, frames and so on.
  • They allow users combining self-made clips with popular music to make even better content.
  • Finally, they rely a lot on social interactions.

Mentioned above features made TikTok the app we know now. Let’s take a closer look at its success story!

👍 What Can We Learn From TikTok’s Popularity?

The social music video application is both TikTok’s definition and the key thing to understand its success. As we’ve figured out earlier, we had great examples of music or video streaming apps earlier but TikTok managed to successfully combine these two concepts and added a powerful social side.

TikTok; Shots from the AppStore

TikTok; Shots from the AppStore

To succeed, you should either be the first or the best. TikTok managed to be both:

  1. It became a great tool for content creation. Earlier, if you wanted to put music over a video, you should download a special application, the music you’d like to add and manually combine the visual and audio parts. With TikTok it can be done in a few taps.
  2. Social interaction tools within the app are quite predictable - like, share, comment, subscribe. Yet, it turned out to be more than enough to encourage people to create their own content and communicate with other users.

What are the other must-have features to create a similar application? Here they are!

⚙️ Top 7 Features You Need to Develop an App like TikTok

If you plan to create a video-sharing app, the following 7 features should definitely be in your MVP-Backlog.

# 1: Sign Up 🔐

Far gone the days when you should encourage users to sign up at any price. Modern customers want to get something in advance before providing you with their personal information.

A good Sign Up screnn doesn't include anything unnecessary

A good Sign Up screnn doesn't include anything unnecessary (image by Sergej Nawalnew)

What will be our recommendations? Here they are!

  1. Implement a Social Login feature as you develop a video-sharing app. It will make the Sign Up process faster and easier as well as connect users with their friends who are already using your application. And it’s all about communication, not music, remember?
  2. Don’t make users sign up if they aren’t ready yet. Let them use your app as guests so they can fall in love with it and then regularly come back to it.
  3. Everyone is very cautious about personal data now, so don’t ask more than you really need. An email and name will be just fine.

# 2: Feed 📲

After opening the TikTok application, the first screen you’ll see is the Feed. It’s actually not that different from the typical feeds in social apps like Facebook or Instagram.

The Feed represents an endless stream of user-generated videos - the typical type of content in the TikTok application.

As users enter it for the first time, they’ll see a more or less generic feed that consists of the most popular clips. Yet, as they use the app it will generate the Feed according to their subscriptions, preferences and many other factors. TikTok’s matching algorithms are quite interesting. As you may reuse some of their ideas during your own video sharing app development, we decided to take a closer look.

The Feed is the main way for your users to discover new content

The Feed is the main way for your users to discover new content (image by Iftikhar Shaikh)

Since TikTok has over 500 million MAU (monthly active users) it would be a total mess if the Feed was filled with random videos. Therefore, the guys use 2-way AI analysis to generate a custom Feed for every user:

User Analysis

Content Analysis

Every user has his own ID number so all actions within the app are linked to those personal numbers. This helps to analyze behavior and show the content that matches a user’s preferences the best. What do they analyze?
Where do you live and what’s popular in that country? What do you like, comment and repost? What keywords do you use when searching and uploading your own videos? What videos do you skip after a few seconds and what do you loop? And many other factors that the company doesn’t disclose.

The chances that some video will appear in other users’ feeds depend on 4 factors: number of likes, comments, shares and the rate of the full play.
Therefore, the videos that are good in these 4 categories are shown to users more frequently.
Moreover, this also encourages users to create high-quality content because otherwise, they can’t reach a wide audience.

# 3: Search 🔎

This is also one of the key features that can’t be omitted as you build an app like TikTok.

According to GlobalWebIndex, 68% of users watched someone else’s video during a month. The point is that the main ways to explore new content are either through the Search or the Feed.

The Search system in TikTok doesn’t have such traditional elements as filtering and sorting but introduces 3 different approaches to go through the content:

  1. Hashtags rule in the TikTok app - this is a point to remember when you develop a video sharing app. Moreover, it’s also possible to see how many views every hashtag has so users shouldn’t guess which one is popular and which isn’t worth using.
  2. The app also allows searching for particular users by writing their nicknames (or at least part of it).
  3. Finally, let’s not forget that TikTok is a music app after all. So it’s not a surprise that it’s also possible to search for specific music (however, you are able to listen to only 15-second pieces, not the whole song) and videos in which this music is used.

The key idea here that such applications greatly rely on user interactions so you shouldn’t create a video sharing app without profound searching functionality.

# 4: Video Editing 🎬

Here’s a thought you can’t challenge: even the best searching tools will be useless if your application lacks content. Therefore, this block of features is also core for video sharing app development.

Video Editing functionality is expected by all your users

Video Editing functionality is expected by all your users (image by Kiel Cummings)

Coming back to TikTok, the app has a great arsenal of editing tools. Among them are:

  • Built-in video recording features that include video speed (from 0.1x to 3x), many different filters, adding music, etc.
  • Users can also shoot a few videos that fit within 15 seconds with pauses between them (but they will be automatically merged into a single clip).
  • One of the best things about TikTok is its effects. There is a great variety of masks, frames, filters, AR elements and other cool tools to make likable and shareable content.

There’s also hiding a monetization opportunity! Undoubtedly, your application should include many video editing options for free but you can sell some advanced effects in separate packs or in a premium version of your application.

# 5: Social Interactions 👍

Despite you may think that TikTok is about creating videos, it’s more about communication with other users. You can take a video, edit it in some offline applications and keep it on your smartphone to show the closest friends, right?

Social Interactions are the backbone of apps like TikTok

Social Interactions are the backbone of apps like TikTok (image by Samson Zhao)

Yet, video sharing app development is about making content that will be liked, shared and commented by dozens, hundreds or even thousands of other users. I am 100% sure that there are people who found friends in the TikTok application and some may have even found love. That’s why the social side requires no less attention than any other piece of functionality.

So keep in mind these three wales of social interactions when you develop an app like TikTok:







However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be creative here. For example, you may go even further and convert social interactions into an in-app currency (for example, every like and share equal to some amount of points that can be later exchanged for new masks and video effects, why not).

By the way, TikTok also has some advanced social features. These are “Duet” (allows putting your own spin on existing videos) and “Reaction” (allows recording and sharing users’ reactions to other videos).

# 6: Chat 💬

You can hardly make a social application if users can’t directly talk to each other. Therefore, we recommend to make own media app like TikTok with a built-in chat.

The feature may be implemented in many different ways. The simplest option is to implement a standard text chat where users can exchange messages and nothing else.

If you want users to interact more actively, add the Chat Feature

If you want users to interact more actively, add the Chat Feature (image by Tornike Chkhvimiani)

However, simple text chatting definitely won’t cover the expectations of your users. They would also like to see:

  • Stickers.
  • Audio and video messages.
  • Possibility to share images, videos, music, GIFs and other files.

Thus, try to provide some extra value to your users except for standard text messaging.

# 7: Push Notifications 🔔

Finally, we couldn’t omit Push Notifications. It’s a powerful retargeting tool to interact with both your active users and the ones who haven’t used your application for a while.

For example, you may notify them when their clips have reached over 500 likes or when they have a new message or subscriber. Push Notifications can be also used to promote new sticker or effect packs and any other content that can be a part of your monetization strategy.

How to build an app like TikTok with them from the tech perspective? Find out closer to the end of the article ;)

Admin Panel 🖥

This isn’t the part of your mobile application but it’s essential to keep all the things working. The Admin Panel is a web-app that’s used to manage all in-app processes. In our case (when you need to develop a video sharing app) these are:

User Management 👤
Ban rude and toxic users, verify popular accounts, review reports from users.

Posts & Comments Management 📃
Review reported posts and comments to check whether they violate your rules.

Content Management 📱
Add some corporate content, introduce new features, run new challenges and hashtags campaigns.

Monetization 💸
Adjust your monetization options and set up the prices.

Push Notifications 🔔
Create your Push Notifications campaigns and configure triggers.

Analytics 📊
See all the analytics right in front of you and make data-driven decisions.

📈 How to Use TikTok Hype for Your Business?

The idea to build an application for creating short videos (just like TikTok) may be tricky. Any new direct competitor will probably lose since it’s challenging to compete with TikTok’s brand recognition, popularity, and resources. How can you compete with the company if your total budget is smaller than their weekly marketing expenses only?

Thus, instead of making a copycat, we’d recommend you to take advantage of the hyped TikTok’s mechanics, and integrate it into your existing business or Startup ideas in other industries.

Try reusing TikTok's mechanics for your own business

Try reusing TikTok's mechanics for your own business (image by Leandro Fernandez)

Take Tinder as an example. The mechanics of its most popular feature - swipes - was reused in many other applications from real estate, retail, travel, and other industries. The same may work out with TikTok.

For example, let’s imagine you’re a retailer selling accessories. Let your customers take 15-second clips with your products along with writing text reviews. The best videos may even go to your main page or screen to promote your products and encourage others to buy them.

Stay hungry. Stay foolish. Oh, sorry, just wanted to sound a bit like Steve 🙂

🛠 Tech Tips

Here are some techincal tools that will be useful during the development:

💸 Cost to Build a Video Sharing App like TikTok

For everyone who is interested in video sharing app development costs we preapred a rough estimate. Take a look:

MVP Features Estimated in Hours
Using React Native

⚙️ Features

⏳ Min Hours

⏱ Max Hours

🛠 Setup Technical Foundations



🔐 Sign Up Flow



Sign up screen



Forgot password



Facebook sign In



👤 Personal Profile Management Flow



Profile screen



Add photo



Add bio



📱 Feed



Content (Algorithm and UI)












🔎 Search Flow



Search by user



Search by song



🎬 Video Editing Flow



Add music



Add effects (filters, frames, stickers etc.)



Publish the video



💬 Chat



💳 Payment Flow



Choose a Payment Option



In-App Payment



🔔 Push Notifications



🕰 Total Hours



💵 Approximate costs



So the approximate cost to build a video sharing app like TikTok is between $27,000-34,000. Keep in mind, our estimates are based on an average rate for Eastern Europe, which is $45/hour.

However, to provide you with a more accurate estimate, we need some details about your project. Drop us a line and we'll provide with more precise calculations of costs to develop a video sharing app like TikTok!

💡 Takeaways

That’s it! Now you’re all set to develop your own application for creating short videos or use some of TikTok’s mechanics for your own business.

There’s one thing left - to find your perfect Tech Partner who will take care of all the development tasks. And we’re ready to help you!

Stormotion can be your Partner in Crime at all stages, so hit the Button below and Let’s Rock!

Challenge Us with Your Idea!

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