Newton man amasses huge TikTok following

Newton. “Anyone can be a star overnight.” For Matt Bottone and budding performers, TikTok is an important outlet for self-expression and creativity during quarantine.

Newton /
26 May 2020 | 09:56

Matt Bottone of Newton discovered the TikTok app only about a month ago. Now, with the handle @mbttones, he’s using it to unleash his creativity and share it around the world.

“It was actually a bet from my friends,” said Bottone, 18. “A student that was accepted into my musical theater school is actually a very famous TikTok star. I found out that he was making tons of money by making these short videos on the app and had amassed 1.9 million followers.”

Some of Bottone’s friends had also been working to achieve stardom on the app. Each gained a few thousand followers.

“They challenged me to a race to 10K followers,” Bottone said. “I love to entertain people, so I took on their bet. I knew I was far behind, so I began making around three to four videos a day, until they just began to take off and go viral. Before I knew it, I hit 10K in about two weeks. People even began to donate money to my videos to support the production of more.”

He said he now has about 12,900 followers, and gains around 200 to 700 more followers each day.

TikTok is a video platform similar to Youtube. However, it differs in some crucial aspects. You are allowed to film for only 3 to 60 seconds, with the average recommended video length being about 15 seconds. Almost all videos play a song in the background, usually one popular at the time, to go along with the content.

“Some people do little dances to the music, some people lip sync to the music, and some people don't use music at all and just tell jokes, or voice their opinion on topics,” Bottone said.

He said he’s done “all sorts of crazy stuff. I've made commentary on brushing your teeth correctly for about 1,000 likes. I threw a brick at a dead tree and got a bunch more. I actually just made one tonight where I reacted to someone else singing a song and made a joke, and it got 1,800 likes in four hours, and will most likely get around two to four thousand by tomorrow. My top video so far has been seen by over half a million people, and it was just me looking into a mirror and reciting a paragraph, but I replaced all the starting letters with a different letter so it sounded funny! Really, it matters less about what you make, and more about your personality and consistency.”

TikTok has its trends that Bottone said tend to come and go quickly.

“Right now there is one #celebratenurses is dedicated to celebrating the courage of nurses during the COVID crisis,” he said. “There is another big one #cartooncharacter about what outfit you would wear if you were a cartoon character that I took part in. There is one, #bedroomcheck, that is just people showing off their bedrooms. Another #gotthisforyou is just about capturing candid moments of people giving others nice gifts.”

’An amazing creative outlet’

TikTok is owned by a company in China called ByteDance. They made TikTok after a similar app, called Vine, was discontinued, even though it had a massive following. TikTok used to be known as Musical.ly but the name was changed after a re-brand in 2016.

The top TikTok personality now is @charlidamelio, with 55.3 million followers. She does mostly dancing videos. There is also @zachking with 44 million. A few celebrities have begun to establish themselves on the platform, including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Will Smith, and Howie Mandel.

There was recently a TikTok Prom held hosted by The Office's John Krasinski, along with Billie Eilish, Chance the Rapper, and many other stars who joined in. Most definitely, a slew of graduation-related TikToks will start to surface.

Bottone used to attend Blair Academy in Blairstown, which has a strong arts program.

“I actually am very passionate about musical theater and acting, and now attend a top musical theater conservatory at Temple University,” he said. “I have written and produced my own plays, and done some professional theater work in Philadelphia during my short time there as well.”

Bottone’s tag on the app is @mbttones, which is short for his name, Matt Bottone.

“I feel that TikTok has been an amazing creative outlet for me during quarantine,” Bottone said. “It has put me in touch with so many people, and I have gained true friends, and priceless lessons about the entertainment industry from this experience. I have to say, if you feel like you have a talent, skill, or just something to say, TikTok is your place to shine.The app is still in its infancy, so anyone can become a star overnight.”

“I’ve done all sorts of crazy stuff. I’ve made commentary on brushing your teeth correctly for about 1,000 likes. I threw a brick at a dead tree and got a bunch more. It matters less about what you make, and more about your personality and consistency.” --Matt Bottone