Charli D’Amelio is the first TikTok creator to hit 100 million followers. She’s the first by some distance, too — only two other creators have cracked 50 million. On TikTok, that makes her more than twice as big as Will Smith, three times as big as The Rock, four times as big as Selena Gomez, and five times as big as Kylie Jenner and Ariana Grande.
It also means she reached 100 million subscribers in record time. On YouTube, it took 14 years before any channel hit 100 million. D’Amelio only started posting to TikTok in May 2019, and the app has only been available (under its current branding, at least) since August 2018.
It’s a huge milestone for both her and the app, but it also comes at a time when Charli — and her family — are increasingly trying to move beyond TikTok. Recent months have seen the launch of a podcast, further expansion into YouTube, the announcement of a book deal, and more.
Creators frequently branch out onto other social networks and into more traditional media formats once they’ve found success on one platform. It lets them broaden their reach, talk to fans in more places, and provide some amount of insurance should one platform make a change that hurts their ability to thrive. YouTube creators, for example, have seen algorithm changes come and go that seem to prioritize and later deemphasize certain genres of video.
It also, often, has to do with their ability to make money. TikTok has started to offer payouts to creators, but creators have been disappointed with the returns. Creators also don’t widely have the ability to sell merch straight from the app. That means the two main ways TikTok stars can make money are by recording native ads, or leaving the app for opportunities elsewhere.
The D’Amelio crew has been quick to build out an ecosystem of media around not just Charli, but the whole family. Dixie, Charli’s sister, released a debut single in June that quickly jumped onto Billboard’s Emerging Artists chart. (To date, the song’s music video has more than 92 million plays on YouTube alone). The sisters have started a podcast together, and both have been experimenting with traditional YouTube formats (“My Slime Review,” “I went surfing with Casey Neistat,” “I Tried These Snacks For The First Time”) to build followings over there as well. Charli is also working on a book due to be released next month.
Heidi and Marc, their parents, have started building an audience, too. They each have their own TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter accounts, and they feature prominently on the “D’Amelio Family” accounts on those same platforms. Perhaps the biggest sign of their success as a family is that, when Triller signed a deal for Charli to start posting to its platform, it brought the whole family along with her.
This time last year, Charli had around 6 million followers on TikTok. In the year since, both she and TikTok have seen a meteoric rise — but TikTok has also faced a barrage of political concerns that have put its future in question. It looks like TikTok will ultimately make it through — but if the platform begins to falter, Charli and her family have already secured plenty of other places to go.