TikTok and “Going Viral” in the Music Industry

Almost every song these days can be found as a “TikTok version”, be it sped up, slowed down or remixed. There is no denying the influence that TikTok as a platform has come to possess over the music industry.

The original purpose of TikTok was for users to create short-form content revolving around lip-synching. The platform’s features of remixes and mashups became popular, giving a collaborative feeling. Today, TikTok has transcended, most notably, as a marketing tactic. Creating videos has become a way for companies, brands and individuals to gain attention (if they play it right). But while the app has potential, many artists have come to disapprove of a growing demand for “going viral” and the pressure it places on creating meaningless content.

There is some credit due when it comes to turning songs into overnight hits. Sometimes they’re new, but in other instances, it’s been released for a while. All it takes, however, is one viral video. One becomes two, add a dance challenge, then the track is trending on Billboard charts and climbing in rotations. TikTok’s power has changed how music is distributed with influencer listening sessions and promotions. In return, music is often produced with a catchy melody in mind. In countries like South Korea and Japan, an easy-to-follow choreography is key in ensuring the song’s success; artists will often collaborate with other promoting groups or “idols”, borrowing popularity from one another.

Now, the purpose of this article is not to make fun of influencers. Or TikTok. The platform presents great opportunities to get music out there and connect with a community that is fun and attuned. English singer-songwriter Charli XCX found the platform beneficial in pushing her creative boundaries as she herself experimented with the genre of pop.

It’s been such a revelation for me. I’ve really learned how to connect with my fans in a new way, how to make content that feels fresh and exciting, and how to push my music in a way that feels authentic and not forced. I love the way that TikTok allows me to experiment with different sounds and ideas, and see what resonates with my audience.

– Charli XCX

For some artists, TikTok works. The danger comes with the growing expectation of all artists to become influencers of sorts. Suddenly, the job description for a musician isn’t just writing music, brainstorming melodies and performing concerts. Now, they are expected to make content and go viral.

I feel like the line is blurring between what is authentic creativity and what is just people trying to go viral. “It’s so hard to get your music heard, but a 15-year-old can put up a video of them lip syncing to your song and it gets 10 million views overnight. It’s a little frustrating. But at the same time, I love the creativity on there. The dances are amazing. I’m a closeted TikTok dancer, but I don’t think I’ll ever post it.

– Halsey

There are singers who are compatible with the type of content on TikTok, meaning that it compliments their sound or color. Meghan Trainor made a return to fame through TikTok, choosing to use the opportunity to release more catchy tracks, “Made You Look” and “Mother”. Trainor’s music has been notorious for having that infectious melody, one that will have listeners humming all day. Other musicians make videos as a way of keeping up with their fans, whether it is promoting their music or hopping on a dance challenge. Trainor, herself, has been known to react to fan videos, even meeting with some to participate in putting together a choreography.

But without the freedom to say “no thank you” to making short-form videos, things become a lot less fun. It is challenging for musicians to balance social promotion and the necessary “responsibilities”. Treating it like a requirement has implications that could change the way the industry works and how artists make music. Music is something that always thrived because of its diversity, different genres and sounds that vibe with all kinds of people — no need for an algorithm.

Veronica Yoo Author
Sorry! The Author has not filled his profile.
Veronica Yoo Author
Sorry! The Author has not filled his profile.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.