• Alicia Ferreira

How to become TikTok famous - TikTok's impact on the music industry

Updated: Oct 27

The days when TikTok was not very popular and not that many people even knew about it are definitely over. This "new" social media is now one of the biggest online platforms and it is rare to find a teenager, or anyone, in that matter, who doesn't have it downloaded on their phones. Tik Tok has a format that fits Gen-Z perfectly: short, fast, and fun videos that you can interact with or simply scroll down to the next one. It's easy to use and the type of content provided is not only enormously diverse but also allows users to try the same video or “trend” for themselves. Naturally, it became a hit and as people started using it, some content creators gained more and more attention, therefore becoming “TikTok famous”. These new celebrities pretty much dictate the rhythm of the app, and because of their huge platforms, the videos they post or the trends they follow seem to prosper greatly, and soon enough, everyone else is doing it too. To be honest, they're not even just TikTok famous anymore; they're straight-up influencers.

The issue in question is how this influence capacitated by TikTok can affect other industries, like the music industry. One of the most important pillars of the app is music, as most of its popular videos have a background song. So if TikTok has a lot of users and the famous creators/trends have great influential power over them, then whichever song trends will become famous too, right? This is how it works nowadays. The human brain will "frame" whatever is being thought, seen, or heard the most. So if every time you open TikTok and spend about 10 minutes (minimum, probably) watching videos and the same song comes on at least 5 times, it's obviously going to be stuck in your head. And it will go on and on and on until you do something about it, which often means actually listening to it to get it out of your system. On the other hand, you can actually like the song that is currently trending, then making it a part of your day-to-day life. Either way, you're streaming it.

A good example of the phenomenon being exposed is teenage pop star Olivia Rodrigo and her debut album "Sour". Although she was already in the public eye because of her roles playing Disney Channel characters, she only got as famous as she is now after her single "Driver's License" came out - and became a TikTok trend. While acknowledging her talent and the quality of her music, it's also possible to point out that TikTok plays a great role in her overnight success. The 30-second snippet available on the app has over 1.6 million videos attached to it, and it's indisputable that the song only really took off after people started making content with it and, therefore, streaming it. Several users actually liked the song and listened to it outside the platform, helping the song chart on Billboard and also contributing to creating a solid fan base for the American singer. Later on, when Olivia put out the rest of her album, it became incredibly famous, being one of the most successful debut albums in music history. And pretty much every single song from it became a TikTok trend.

Another example is rapper Megan Thee Stallion, who also seemed to become more famous due to TikTok. Her collaborations with Cardi B on hit song "WAP" and Beyoncé on hit song "Savage" became two of the biggest TikTok dancing trends ever, and after known "TikTokers" showed their support to her and her music, she grew incredibly as an artist. Consequently, the rest of her album did very well, not only on TikTok but on official charts as well, and she ended up deservedly winning Best New Artist on the 2021 Grammys.

Although both Olivia Rodrigo and Megan Thee Stallion got very famous through TikTok, they already had previous careers in the industry. But TikTok does not only boost artists' careers, but it also helps completely unknown and/or new artists to launch their music. An example of an artist who got on the mainstream completely due to the app is Vaultboy, who created a snippet of a song called "Everything Sucks". The sound went viral and so many people liked it that he decided to record and release the full version of the song on all music platforms. This can also show how songs can become more known thanks to TikTok, and not necessarily the artists behind it. One example of that is the song "Hold On", by Chord Overstreet, which went viral on the platform but the musician itself did not get extremely famous, like Olivia and Megan. After this tune's success on the app, it got over 400 million streams on Spotify, making it Overstreet's biggest hit so far.

These examples may not scientifically prove the point presented, but they do bring a reflection on the app's power of influence over the newest generation. By showing that specific songs trending on this social media app brought new artists into the spotlight, helped them pave their way into the music industry, and contributed enormously to making them successful, it's possible to assume that TikTok now plays a role of also impacting other industries - foremostly the music industry. Therefore, it is noticeable that the app became a solid way of commercializing music and launching new artists, now being essential in the process of "discovering" yet unknown talents.


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