Just in time for VidCon, TikTok has a new most followed creator on the platform: Khaby Lame, a 22-year-old from Senegal who rose to fame by stitching and dueting other TikToks, wordlessly fixing viral “life hacks” that didn’t initially work.
As of yesterday, Khaby Lame has 142.7 million followers, eclipsing longtime leading TikTok creator Charli D’Amelio to take the number one spot.
D’Amelio spoke on a panel with Lightricks at VidCon today, but she wasn’t upset about losing her No. 1 title — after all, it’s just a matter of bragging rights.
“I had No. 1 for two years. It’s time for someone else to have that spot, and I’m proud of him. He’s a friend, and there’s no bad blood,” Charli D’Amelio said on the VidCon stage. “It feels great to know that someone else is getting that spot — someone that is sweet and a good person and loves what they do.”
She also told the crowd at VidCon that she has 2,400 TikTok drafts — the mystery!
But for creators to make the big bucks, it’s not just about the followers. It’s how you leverage them.
Charli D’Amelio, her sister Dixie D’Amelio and their parents have spun up a media empire, complete with a Hulu reality show, a clothing line with Hollister, numerous brand deals and a Snap original show of their own. The D’Amelio sisters and their parents have also become venture capitalists themselves, investing in FaceTune maker Lightricks. Even as TikTokers like Lame rise to fame, Black creators are noticeably missing from Forbes’ highest-paid influencer list. Charli D’Amelio sits at No. 1 with $17.5 million in yearly earnings, while her sister Dixie is bringing in $10 million.
To combat these disparities, platforms like Snapchat and Patreon have launched incubator programs for BIPOC creators, giving them access to more upfront capital, production resources and mentorship.
In terms of overall follower counts across platforms, only one YouTube channel has eclipsed the 200 million mark: T-Series, an Indian record label and film company. For now — until TikTok rolls out better monetization options for creators — most opportunities to capitalize on the fame built there happen off-platform.