Tiktok And The Music Industry
The music industry has seen a rapidly growing relationship with social media apps such as Tiktok and Instagram in the past few years. However, recently with the advent of the reels feature on Instagram, and Tiktok’s plethora of content formats and choreographies, there has been a noticeable shift in the consumption and popularisation of music, whether old or new. In the past, there have been various instances of how Tiktok has been able to revive melodies from the 60s-70s and turned them into contemporary hits.
In October 2020, Fleetwood Mac’s song ‘Dreams’ resurfaced on the second spot in the Rolling Stone 100 Chart after almost forty years since its release. It was second to Cardi B’s WAP, and was made famous by a Tiktoker-Nathan Apodaca who sang to its tunes while skateboarding and drinking cranberry juice. The video went viral and so did the song he was grooving to. The staggering impact of the video revived a forty-year-old song and landed it on the list of most-heard tunes on the charts.
The phenomenon wasn't just restricted to the West as even Bollywood music was given a new life through Tiktok videos. Before Tiktok was banned in the later months of 2020, many Indian TikTokers used songs from older Bollywood films such as Meherbaan from Bang Bang (2014) and Aankhein Teri from Anwar (2007) in their videos. Paul Ankan’s Put Your Head On My Shoulder is another example of an old classic that resurfaced on a Tiktok trend remixed with Doja Cat’s Streets. This begs the question, what is it that these apps do so well that they are able to popularise not just new, but old melodies as well?
This is essentially a function of the appeal of the apps themselves, which enable exposure as well as popularisation of songs as and when they are released. But let us first understand where the appeal of these platforms lies, and what makes them different in their impact as opposed to Youtube or Spotify which have been the traditional music streaming platforms till now.
Tiktok and Instagram are unique in the way they enable audiences to engage with the music they are streaming. That is also on the basis of both intellectual and physical aspects, the former being the creative use of music to enhance a short Tiktok and make it more impactful with the use of apt lyrics and genre, and the latter leveraging the tunes with choreographed moves which start trending hours after a music video is released. Both platforms have also made interesting use of the hashtag and the ‘challenge’ format to further propagate various trends. What further popularised the platforms is that not a lot of effort goes into putting out content for public consumption as most of these apps have the music as well as the format predetermined, leaving the creators just with the task to perform. Moreover, the Gen-Z need to try out trends further adds on to the excitement of creating TikTok videos.
The initial wave of fame that many songs achieved through these mediums can be seen with the rise of streaming of Play Date by Melanie Martinez, and even I’m Just a Kid by Simple Plan, which was used for the popular 'Throwback Challenge' all TikTok aficionados loved. Many other songs like ROXANNE by Arizona Zervas, Blinding Lights by The Weeknd, Bored in The House by Curtis Roach, and Savage Love by Jason Derulo are tunes that will ring a bell for anyone and everyone who uses the platforms because of their avid use in different types of challenge in TikTok videos, and later reels. Many artists like Megan Thee Stallion catapulted to fame as her songs such as Savage and Body gained popularity on and through Tiktok/Instagram repeatedly.
More examples include WAP by Cardi B featuring Megan Thee Stallion released in August 2020 which took these platforms by storm. WAP’s choreography flooded Tiktok and Instagram feeds with videos of dancers and non-dancers performing with their own iterations of it. These platforms have taken entertainment and engagement to a different level of audience interaction which has invariably led to more elevated popularity of the music they feature.
It is therefore, also important to acknowledge that the influence of these apps does not diminish the merit of the artist, but only aids in the popularity they hope to achieve. In many cases, a song that is already trending becomes famous on Tiktok or reels as well. It’s almost a cycle of popularity. So, this doesn't suggest that artists are individually unable to garner such attention, but only highlights the fact that these platforms make their content available, accessible, and easier to engage with.
Artists have also begun to tap into this potential that shoots up engagement and popularity, so much so that these songs end up topping billboard charts, soon after they start trending on Tiktok and Instagram. Recently, the connection between the music industry and Tiktok came together seamlessly in Dua Lipa’s music video for Levitating, which was made in partnership with Tiktok, while featuring various Tiktok dancers as well.
Now, the point of interest is how the influence of these platforms trascends trending music into the hall of fame of the billboard charts. All of the recently trending songs like Levitating by Dua Lipa , Kiss Me More by Doja Cat ft. SZA, Good 4 U by Olivia Rodrigo featured either as #1 or in the top ten of the Billboard HOT 100. The simple link between the two is the fact that these social media platforms bring powerful visual and sound imagery to the audience, bumping up the song's engagement. So what happens ultimately is that an individual who remembers a peppy number from a reel or a Tiktok video ends up saving it on their respective streaming platforms, thus completing the journey of the song from artist to collaborators and platforms to the consumer.
Certainly, these are songs that already have enough merit to them which is why they are already existing on billboard charts. It only gets exciting when the influence of the mediating platforms really pushes them to the top because of how effective their publicity and popularisation of content is. It is self-explanatory enough to say that when something is trending, there is no way you can miss it.