TikTok – Is it a blessing or curse to the music industry?

Without doubt TikTok is the biggest influence on music right now! From launching ‘nobody’s’ to stardom, to controlling the charts to reviving old songs from the grave, TikTok has complete power over the music industry and what is popular.

TikTok has retained its spot as the most downloaded app in 2021 with now over 1 billion users. So, it is no surprise that the content creating app is hugely influential on the music business. The power of TikTok makes it easier than ever to propel artists to fame overnight, simply with a viral video or trending sound that gets reused and becomes popular. The app released a report revealing that 75% of it’s users say they have discovered new artists via the platform.

An example of this incredible sudden popularity is 20-year-old BENEE. The indie pop singer from New Zealand shot to fame after the most followed TikToker (with over 100 million followers) Charli D’Amelio danced to her song “Superlonely”. The song is still the 17th most streamed song in the world! In my eyes it defines TikTok culture during the lockdown period of summer 2020 and the sound will always instantly remind me of sunbathing in our gardens with homemade banana bread and Greek iced coffee.

An obvious advantage of TikTok’s influence is how quick it can help small artists gain listeners, as before many aspiring singers would take years to gain a following and even then, only the lucky persevering few. Also, TikTok has made advertising easier than ever, the short videos and algorithms can be more influential than thousand-dollar marketing campaigns.

Satan Dave’s Viral TikTok sound “Starlight”

In terms of charting, it is astonishingly obvious that popular TikToks affects the charts. When I check the current Official Top 40, I find that the first 5 songs are all huge sounds on the app! UK rapper Dave was reluctant to use the app at first, but his single “Starlight” reached number 1 and now has over 300,000 videos after a trend displaying pictures went viral.

Although some people criticise the changing state of the music industry suggesting it is “ruining the charts” and claiming artists purposefully make “catchy” songs to go viral. In my opinion, Drake’s hit song “Toosie slide” was made deliberately to be a viral TikTok dance as it includes the lyrics, “Left foot up, right foot slide” and it was successful as it became the fastest trend to hit a billion views. Although I understand why artists are going down this route, it is clearly damaging to the industry and making lots of music feel meaningless and less authentic.

I know at one time we have all been guilty of wanting to gatekeep our favourite underrated artists and songs, and as much as it infuriates me to hear “this is a TikTok song” while listening an old favourite, I understand that this is inevitable as the app is so big.