Social media platform TikTok allows users to post short video clips and attach music to those videos. Many videos feature viral dance routines, which has caused the music featured in those videos to surge in popularity. TikTok has quickly become an influential force in the music industry and is revolutionizing the way artists can access their fans faster than ever, bypassing the traditional distribution channels and gaining popularity sometimes literally overnight.
Popular Artists Find Success In TikTok
While TikTok has paved a new path for unknown music artists, it has also allowed established artists to flourish. Megan Thee Stallion’s new hit single “Savage” has become one of the most popular dances in TikTok. Doja Cat, an American rapper who has been signed to a major label since 2014, has also seen renewed attention as her single “Say So” has become popular among TikTok dancers.
Not All Big Names Make It Big On TikTok
That being said, not all famous musicians find instant success on TikTok. In an effort to go viral on the platform, Justin Bieber and his label made a valiant effort to get his new single “Yummy” to become the next dance craze. It never caught fire and serves as an example that TikTok is not a platform that can be controlled. Users and top influencers dictate the success of certain songs and dances. Some influencers take endorsement deals, but at the end of the day, the users determine how popular a trend will be.
TikTok Platform Showcases New Artists
TikTok has introduced a vast group of social media users to new music they may have never discovered if not for the platform. Artist “BENEE” recently made waves on TikTok with their single “Supalonely.” The previously unknown artist was lucky enough to have popular TikTok users create a viral dance to the single, causing an increase in attention the artist wouldn’t have seen if not for the platform.
Artists Labeled “TikTok Bands” Take Exception
Not all artists are appreciative of the attention. Some musicians who have gained popularity on the social media platform has been labeled as a “TikTok band” and they are not all thrilled about the title. In February, Beach Bunny – who rose in popularity on TikTok with their songs “Prom Queen” and “Sports” – took to another social media platform Twitter to disapprove of the new moniker. “Also next journalist to say we’re a tic tok band gets punched,” Beach Bunny said.
Instant Attention And Lo-Fi Production
A strange phenomenon has sparked on the TikTok platform. Artists, and non-artists alike, are creating short viral songs, sometimes entirely a capella or using their hands and feet to make a beat. Sounds like “Margo” where the seemingly non-musician user is singing about her pet iguana and hits the desk to make a beat. Another song, “Bored in the House,” features Detroit artist Curtis Roach banging his fist on the table to make a beat talking about how bored he is while under quarantine.
Mash-ups and Monetization Issues
An interesting conundrum has emerged on TikTok as more producers are creating “mash-up” mixes, combining multiple popular songs on the platform to create a new sound. The rate of speed at which a catchy song can spread on TikTok could create distribution and monetization rights issues. Will artists still get paid for their work if it is a small part of a mash-up that is featured in a viral dance video? These are questions the music industry faces in the wake of the TikTok revolution.
TikTok As A Musical Influence
In short time, TikTok has transformed the music industry. Well-known artists are finding a new resurgence and wider audience that may have never discovered them otherwise. Some popular artists also struggle to control the new platform that is difficult to be molded by money and influence. And brand new artists are finding success in these short clips of songs that cause users to seek them out on other platforms to listen to more of their music. Some are taking exception to being labeled as “TikTok bands,” but most have found a way to break out of this mold and gain true traction.
A Transformational Platform
In a unique way that only TikTok could facilitate, artists and non-musicians are creating short songs that have the ability to go viral on the platform and launch new careers. New mash-ups and alternative versions of songs could present monetization issues that the music industry will have to grapple with. In all cases and examples, it is clear that TikTok has transformed the music industry and should be taken seriously by artists, producers, record labels, and audiences as a place to discover new trends and emerging artists.