Opinion: TikTok’s effect on the music industry


Credit: Chloe Zilembo

WSPN’s Chloe Zilembo shares the effects of TikTok on the music industry.

Chloe Zilembo

You’re sitting in the car with your parents as a song comes on the radio that sounds so familiar. You exclaim that you recognize the song from TikTok, eliciting a groan from your parents. TikTok has a huge influence on what people listen to and watch, especially teens. TikTok’s effect on the music industry is no secret because of the app’s growing popularity within the last couple years.

A multitude of songs have blown up on TikTok and are now mainstream songs we hear on the radio. One example is Doja Cat’s song, “Say So.” The song was used as a sound for a TikTok dance in 2019 and immediately blew up. With the song’s catchy lyrics and beat, TikTok users started doing the dance and uploading it for others to see. The sound from “Say So” was used over 10 million times on TikTok. The TikTok dance associated with the song was even featured in the “Say So” music video.

Also, you may have heard a song that was popular in the 2010s come up on a radio station that exclusively plays today’s current hits. If you’re wondering how this happened, it’s likely that TikTok blew up the song again.

For example, Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary” came out in 2010. All of a sudden, the song started charting on the Billboard Hot 100, 13 years after its initial release. Why? Someone posted an edit of the song over a clip of  a dance from the popular Netflix show, “Wednesday.” Soon, millions of people were doing the dance with Gaga’s sound in the background and uploading it to the app.

There are even songs that blew up on TikTok that weren’t even songs in the first place. The song, “Jiggle Jiggle,” by Duke & Jones and Louis Theroux was from an episode of the show, “Weird Weekends.” The interview clip was then remixed and posted on TikTok, and soon the video clip went viral. In typical TikTok fashion, a dance was created and went viral which popularized the song even further.

Singers like Gayle filmed challenge videos where they had to create a song based on a prompt. Gayle’s singing career took off when she posted a video to TikTok where she was challenged to use the alphabet in a song. Her song, “Abcdefu,” went viral and Gayle amassed a lot of media attention. Soon, she landed a role as an opener for one of the most famous singers in the world, Taylor Swift, for her Eras Tour.

Much like Gayle, singer songwriter Noah Kahan also achieved his success due to TikTok. After teasing his song, “Stick Season,” for months on the app, it got over a hundred thousand streams on Spotify alone. Now, Kahan is nearly selling out his newest tour. TikTok took Noah Kahan from playing in ice cream shops for gift cards to selling out concerts.

Sometimes the songs teased on TikTok go on to win Grammys. Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ “Unholy” was a hit even before it was officially released. Sam Smith posted a TikTok with a soundbite from the chorus of the song. The TikTok gained more than 35 million views a month after it was posted. When the song was officially released, the popularity of the song grew, leading Petras to win her first Grammy award, and Smith winning their fifth Grammy.

A song that’s gained a lot of attention on TikTok is David Kushner’s “Daylight.” Kushner posted a video on his TikTok account with the song playing in the background. The teaser video got over 3 million views, announcing the song would be released on April 14. Now, Kushner is touring with singer Dean Lewis, even before his song was officially released. After listening to “Daylight,” I agree that it was worth the wait.

TikTok’s influence on the music industry is immense. The app has provided an opportunity for many musical artists wanting to break into the music industry. TikTok has the power to turn artists from nothing into something they could have never imagined. The app even helps already well established artists promote their music for the world to see. Where would the music industry today be without TikTok?