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How TikTok has flipped the script on the music industry

How TikTok has flipped the script on the music industry

How TikTok has flipped the script on the music industry
July 17
13:00 2022

Over the past year, TikTok’s popularity has become hard to ignore. From dances to how-tos, thousands of videos reach international “For You” pages daily. With over 1 billion monthly active users, the app has become an influential platform for both creators and viewers.

Many TikTok trends are linked to audios, several of which are song clips. Whether a recent release or a throwback hit, a single song can trend worldwide within hours. The impacts of these movements have increasingly made their way to the music industry —  for better or for worse.

As seen by many now widely-known creators on the app, TikTok can effectively jumpstart one’s music career. Artists like Måneskin and PinkPantheress have gained masses of followers by posting videos with their own songs. Others, like Tai Verdes, have even solidified record deals from major labels after trending.

Radio and streaming charts are influenced as a direct result. Some of this decade’s Billboard Top 100 charters, like Doja Cat’s “Say So” and Dixie D’Amelio’s “Be Happy,” reached their peaks because of TikTok audio usage. Recently, Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God),” returned to the top of U.K. and U.S. charts for the first time since its 1985 release because of “Stranger Things” inspired trends.

TikTok is now an essential marketing tool for established and aspiring musicians because of its evident power. Artists old and new now tease their unreleased songs to garner attention before they premiere. Others even hint at possible music video or album releases once they’ve reached enough views and pre-saves. 

This type of interaction with the audience makes music a multi-dimensional experience. Listeners are now able to more actively participate in the song and artist’s growth. In return, this creates more opportunities for artists to connect with their fans remotely. They can now get immediate feedback on their sound to find what audiences like and dislike about a certain track. 

As TikTok has grown to reach a wide span of music fans, the talent-hunting formula has been effectively rewritten. Previously, labels had to filter through hoards of smaller artists and make guesswork at who might be successful. Now, audiences are doing the work for them.

The app almost acts as a worldwide focus group for music executives. By viewing others’ public feedback on TikTok artists, both positive and negative, they can gather an idea of what people are looking for. In doing so, it is easier for them to spot and create trends fit for top audiences.

TikTok now even has an internal music division. The staffers analyze app data to track platform-wide trends. From the analytics, they then target promotion levers to further aid songs in their growth process.

Although not as entirely organic and audience-based, the core idea of trusting online trends remains. This switch guides the production to the viewer, rather than the other way around.

While TikTok and its users continue to impact the way the world views music, other industries have quickly taken notice. The universal reach of the app gives newfound access to unlimited markets of potential consumers. From creator brand deals to promoted videos and ads, TikTok is now taking the spot as the most influential social media app. As a result, this rapid advancement has also lessened the impact of other online platforms like YouTube.

While new media continues to reflect online opinions, viewers can revel in their newfound consumer power. For now, TikTok seems to be highlighting sincere artists matching the industry’s genuine needs.

However, long-conspired theories suggest an impending outbreak of “authentic” artists manipulating their TikTok brand to make the charts. Although this total takeover has yet to be seen, it’s unlikely industries won’t start using it to their advantage. In the meantime, users can only hope their likes and shares continue to be put to good use.

Featured Illustration by Jazmine Garcia

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Samantha Thornfelt

Samantha Thornfelt

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