Growing up in Rochester, NY, known for healthcare and factory work, Michael Falligan Jr. knew his career dreams were elsewhere — music.

Where It All Started

Gaining his love and respect for Hip-Hop from his parents, who he describes as the real-life version of the film “Brown Sugar,” the music lover gravitated toward the scene early on. Later, his passion led him to minor in music while majoring in finance during his undergraduate studies.

What Started Off As A Minor Became A Major Part Of His Career

During Falligan’s time on campus, he made sure to make his presence known. Continuously building and connecting ultimately guided him to the next stop of his journey. After securing his bachelor’s degree in finance, he was ready to get out in the field to gain hands-on experience. 

Falligan’s resume extends across companies like BET, Atlantic Records, and Warner Records. During his work experience, he had opportunities of interacting with the likes of Missy Elliott, and the late PnB Rock. Plus, he even got to handle an assignment that involved Jay-Z.

Now, Falligan is a Global Communications manager at TikTok, where he unconventionally landed the role. His journey of learning how to adapt and shoot his shot for opportunities ultimately set him up for his current role.

Courtesy of Theodore Carty

Although Falligan earned his master’s in music business in 2020 — the same year was filled with rejection letters, including one from TikTok. However, he ended up shooting his shot anyway.

“I saw a role for somebody on the Communications team focusing on music,” Falligan told AfroTech. “The description was, ‘This is communications, but you have to have deep knowledge and passion for the niche or the nuances of the music industry and how this relates to TikTok. I was like, ‘Oh, this is perfect. I’ve never technically worked in PR before, but everything I’ve done so far has been a risk, so why not?'”

Thanks to a referral, advice from a friend who majored in PR, and successfully creating a multi-level campaign, Falligan went on to land the opportunity to work for TikTok.

His first assignment? Bringing Paul McCartney onto the platform.

Advocating For Artists

Under his role, Falligan advocates for artists. His efforts can be seen in how closely he’s worked with the team for SoundOn — TikTok’s promotion and music distribution platform for independent artists. One particular artist the incubator has supported is Muni Long. Following the R&B singer and songwriter distributing “Hrs and Hrs” into SoundOn, the hit took off and ultimately, landed her even more wins.

“She really reinvented herself through that program,” Falligan said. “‘Hrs and Hrs’ was something that was through SoundOn. With its success, she was able to make an amazing deal with Def Jam [Recordings]. That just goes to show that this isn’t TikTok saying, ‘We’re the new label,’ but it’s like this is another step you could take before getting so deep in.”

Falligan is all for musicians but especially highlights and champions female Hip-Hop artists.

“Emerging female rappers are really finding a home on the platform. Thinking about even a data point, Hip-hop is number one on the platform and specifically, female rap is a niche genre that really lives on the platform. So, that’s something that I’ve personally seen that we didn’t really highlight.”

“Just as much as we represent every other culture, I really wanted to make sure that we’re showing the world that we see or we know what’s happening on the platform,” he added.

Along with being on TikTok’s Global Communications team, Falligan teaches music business at Rowan University. The adjunct professor works to spread the knowledge of what he’s learned — and still learning — throughout his career to his students. 

“The work that I do and the work that I have done so far really inspires my work at the university level,” he expressed. “Going back to thinking about myself in college and how there weren’t majors like this. Now, there’s a whole music business wing of the school, their own record label, and everything. I’m just like, wow. Being able to bring the real-time knowledge back to these students from these big companies or big opportunities is really the most fulfilling thing.”