How TikTok Is Transforming The Music Industry

TikTok Is Changing The Way Younger Generations Consume Media. But What Does This Mean For The Music Industry?

In the early days of TikTok, the app existed to present users with videos of creators dancing to popular songs. This is a stark comparison to the app we see today which has over 1.5 billion users. As a result of this, the impact that the app has on surrounding industries must not be underrated. 

TikTok is now fundamentally changing the game when it comes to music, through how it is released, received and responded to, boosting unknown artists to stardom in a matter of weeks. 


[Creds: TheRinger]

Since its invention, music has been a key feature of the app. The audios used (or ‘sounds’ as they are referred to in the app) are a large part of the popularity of the app. Creators will use sounds from songs or comedic videos as a background to their own videos offering creative ways to utilise the audio or coming up with dances to accompany them. 

The more a sound is used the more it is picked up by the algorithm and is more likely to become a trend. There is no specific type of sound that will be guaranteed to go viral but releasing sounds that are able to be used in many different contexts will allow for more users to be creative in their video creation. 

Many songs by popular current artists such as DojaCat are likely to go viral but older songs may have the capability to go viral if videos using them are picked up by the algorithm. One example of this was when creator Nathan Apodaca posted a video of him skateboarding while drinking cranberry juice to the sound of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams”.  This subsequently made the song hit the Billboard Hot 100 list more than 40 years after it was released. 

[Creds: RollingStone]

It is important to note that songs going viral on TikTok do not contribute to charting success but often there is a correlation between sounds going viral and them becoming popular on streaming services. Often songs that trend on the app will end up hitting the Billboard 100 charts. As well as this 67% of the app’s users are more likely to seek out songs on streaming services once they have heard them on TikTok.

Music labels will also often work with TikTok influencers, encouraging them to make videos utilising the sounds from one of their artists to drive success. As well as this creators may also use a song of their own accord if it is trending.

“TikTok has really become a critical part of artist storytelling,” Kristen Bender, SVP of digital strategy and business development at Universal Music Group “Since we signed our deal with TikTok earlier this year, our labels have been extremely leaning into the platform.”

In order to keep up with the ever-changing trends on the app music, marketers must jump on trending sounds quickly as they may be irrelevant in days.

[Creds: YoYoFuMedia]

International superstar LilNas X had his start on TikTok launching Old Town road in 2019 which performed extremely well. Alongside this, a range of music artists has found fame on the app many having released samples of the songs to then release the full songs later.

Another example of the power of TikTok is Olivia Rodrigo. The ex-Disney star first gained popularity with her hit from the newest High School Musical series ‘All I want’. The song trended on the app which lead to the artist’s debut album Sour trending for weeks two years later, being used by big TikTok names such as Charli Demilio. A multitude of songs on this album was utilised for trends which left two of the songs reaching a billion streams on Spotify. 

This change in the way music is discovered has been impactful for a number of reasons. 

Firstly it means that artists don’t need to be connected to a label to be successful. Being discovered as an artist is tough, therefore many artists attempt to sign to labels but this is a highly competitive move. Going viral on the app requires no or very little financial investment and artists are able to build a real community surrounding their music. 

Secondly, songs that may be popular in different countries may go so viral that they appear on the For You pages of users in different countries. This helps artists who may just be popular in one country become popular around the world.

Ease of releasing music. Being able to gauge users’ reactions to songs by releasing samples of songs is a great way to understand audiences better and can save artists from investing in songs that may not perform well.

There are some issues with the way that TikTok uses music. Around 50% of all music used on the app is unlicensed which means that there can be issues and possibly legal action from labels. However recently, TikTok has signed with three major music labels ((Sony, Warner Music & Universal Music Group). This will hopefully mean that it is easier for creators to use sounds without the legal ramifications. 

Utilising TikTok for our music clients

Here at influence, we work with a number of music clients from individual artists to music festivals. Due to the rise of music fame within the app, we have encouraged our clients to start posting on the app. Creating unique content for them which plays into the algorithm. 

Our biggest success story has been Strawberries and Creme. We have been creating content for the festival since 2020. Since then we have gained almost 9K followers and have had a lot of success across our video content. Many of the videos shared gained over 50K views and over 10 of the videos gained at least 100K. Due to the fact that the account business profile means that we are not able to utilise some trending sounds but playing into Copywrite-free trends has been key to the success of the channel. Another key element of ensuring success on the channel is utilising UGC content from other creators to create hype around the artists attending the festival. This will also often include the artist’s songs.

Overall the introduction of TikTok seems to have been mostly positive for the music community, giving airtime to smaller artists and helping spread word about popular artists’ new songs. We would highly recommend agencies with music artist clients to try their hand at TikTok, you never know what could happen!

Finally, for our previous #SocialShort, click here.

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