How TikTok has changed the music industry

Leona Kenny

Ever since its release in 2019, TikTok has had a massive impact on the way we look at videos. From celebrity impersonations to cooking videos, it’s quite easy to go viral within a few seconds, let alone achieve a number one single.

It’s been almost a year since the Chinese company Bytedance merged with the lip-sync-video app Musical.ly, migrating its users over to TikTok.

The re-brand has been extremely successful, at least when it comes to impacting pop music, since the platform has become a staging ground for hits before they are even officially released.

The most popular trend that arises on the app every week, is making memes and viral dances from music sound clips. The more that get made, the more people get inspired, and the sharing train continues.

This ultimately also leads to people wanting to know the original song used in the TikTok, creating an increase in streams and listens on the track, no matter how old or new it may be.

Just last year, Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100, two years after it was released. The reason for the sudden surge? Its opening lyric inspired a TikTok meme known as the DNA Test Challenge.

Likewise, rapper Lil Nas X struck gold when his rap-country song “Old Town Road” was picked up by users on TikTok. The song subsequently topped the charts all over the world and was one of the best selling singles of 2019. It remained at top of the Billboard Hot 100 for nineteen weeks in a row.

The app has also been important for artists just starting in the music business. In a time where live music is off the cards, a viral video or clip could prove crucial to the start of a new career of rapping or producing.

That was the case for producer Joshua Stylah, better known as Jawsh 685. The seventeen-year-old uploaded an instrumental track called “Laxed Siren Beat Loop” earlier this year from his bedroom in New Zealand.

Its links to his Polynesian roots inspired the culture dance challenge, which saw users celebrating their heritage by dancing to the song in traditional costumes around the world.

It quickly got millions of hits and caught the attention of Jason Derulo, who sang over the track to create the song “Savage Love”.

It went straight to number one and became one of the UK’s biggest-selling songs of summer 2020.

Honestly, who knows what’s next for the app – where it’s going in the future, or which track will be elevated to mass amounts of fame next.

Like anything new, it does have its challenges such as copyrights and targeting an audience, but for now, it’s working pretty well.

What’s great for the music business might not always be great for TikTok. But for now, the platform has succeeded in convincing users — and labels — fame is just 15 seconds away.

Leona Kenny

Image Credit: Kon Karampelas