Is TikTok the future of the music industry?
12.10.2021

Is TikTok the future of the music industry?

Tiktok app on phone next to two people looking at phone
Words by Benjamin Lamb

Why adding your music to TikTok could kickstart your career.

There’s no doubt that sites like Instagram and Facebook are some of the most important when it comes to the music industry, but TikTok is quickly becoming one of the most important promotional tools for both beloved and emerging artists.

If you’re unaware of the app, users create short videos about absolutely anything, it could be something about live music to something about religion. But the main intent of the app is to bring music and people together, through users predominately using a small audio clip from a song that relates to their video.

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With the app still being in its infancy, many are still trying to further their understanding of the service and how it works. TikTok’s algorithm isn’t as complex as that of Instagram or YouTube, songs can rise on this app organically, much alike that of Spotify—the more people that listen to a song, the more likely you are to come across it in some form.

Many artists can even just solely depend on the use of TikTok, with it recently being said that artists will find more people interact with their works on the platform than Facebook and Instagram combined. It can truly start your career.

We’ve seen a number of older songs move their way back into the mainstream due to their popularity on the app, these are songs like ‘Rasputin’ by Boney M, ‘Put Your Head On My Shoulder’ by Paul Anka and ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ by Queen. Each of which had a unique element that piqued a TikTok users interest.

Each of these subsequently saw a noticeable impact on the charts, with the songs rising on the American and Australian music charts. At this stage, Tiktok doesn’t contribute to music charts, so this shows that there is a strong indirect impact on the music industry, as it leads people to stream and purchase the music in other areas.

Label heads and management companies in Australia and abroad have seen the power TikTok holds for an artist’s career in 2021. It heavily contributes to the musician’s overall visibility and defines their virtual personality. It’s also integral from a marketing perspective, as many younger people use the app to discover new performers, so it’s important that any emerging musician creates their own TikTok page.

The trends on TikTok are usually thanks to a viral video from a dance, which can be artificially created, through musicians or music labels paying a Tiktok user to try and make the song big.

This is quickly becoming a big area in the partnership between the music industry and TikTok, the service could make someone’s career, as Tiktok users can earn up to thousands of dollars from a music industry partnership.

One of the most popular users on TikTok is Charli D’Amelio, who charges a whopping $30,000-$40,000 for a song feature on her video, but it has proven to be very beneficial for those willing to fork out the money, with her alone making a song trend, and eventually helping the song move up the charts across the world.

According to CNBC, TikTok holds around 1 billion users every month and any of those could become the next biggest thing overnight. So, music labels aim to not only work with the biggest users on the app, but rather up and coming users, who only charge a few hundred dollars, as their video may become a high-viewed video, subsequently causing the song used to rise dramatically in the charts.

We’ve seen rapper Flo Milli launch her career through these means, paying a TikTok user around AU$500 to use her song in one of their dance videos, which subsequently gained around 100,00 views, and lead her to be signed with the popular RCA records, showing just how much power the social media site has.

Something that’s also important to note is the musical careers that have come from the app. A large proportion of the users use Tiktok to showcase their dancing skills, but in recent times we’ve seen users attempt to start their own music careers to a great degree of success.

Many TikTok users have made other people’s songs big through dancing to it, so it makes sense that they can make their own songs big through showcasing them on the app.

We’ve seen that take place with popular user Bella Poarch, whose song ‘Build A Bitch’ has reached the top 100 in pretty much every chart across the globe. Another popular user Addison Rae, has seen her song ‘Obsessed’ be one of the most streamed tracks in 2021, and led to her performing on The Tonight Show, showcasing the song to millions of homes across America.

One of the most recognisable trends on the app has been at the hands of the song ‘Driver’s License’ by Olivia Rodrigo. The teen star’s target audience is heavily similar to that of TikTok, so when she released her global hit earlier this year, it made sense that it made such an impact on TikTok.

Users immediately stuck to her heartfelt lyrics and emotional singing, creating a bevy of different videos relating to it, some analysing the lyrics and trying to discern who she was talking about. Some people covered the track, some danced to it, some just simply mouthing along with the lyrics, and many making memes and joke videos relating to it.

This shows that with the right background and preparation, you can create the next hit song on the service.

It also speaks volumes to the way people consume music in this day and age. Gone is the day of the music listener who listens to a full album front to back, without any skips. Many of us have become accustomed to listening to a single song, adding it to a playlist, and skipping the boring parts to get to the good guitar solo, great chorus or catchy rap break.

Tiktok clearly plays into this in a major way, we’ve gone from the album, to the song, to just the popular or cool snippet from a song. What’s could possibly be next?

For more, check out this guide on how to add your own music to TikTok.