May TikTok be finest place to find new music?
TikTok is the application of the year – mainly because we’re all bored at home. What started as Musical.ly is now a platform for fun videos, DIY tutorials, dances, and most importantly, space for creators to go viral right away.
This is especially true for music where artists appear in charts out of nowhere or even bigger artists like Jason Derulo and Miley Cyrus use the platform to introduce their current music to a new audience.
But what makes TikTok particularly unique when it comes to kicking off musicians’ careers? Let’s start with the infamous and omniscient algorithm. We all blindly trust the algorithm, at least when it comes to showing us content that we like.
But how does that work for creators on the other end who are trying to make it big? Audios are indispensable for the app. If a developer uses their song as background audio for a fun video or a video promoting music, they’ll likely get a few saved games and even duets or additional videos with their song in the background. It’s like instant virality – that is, when enough people are watching your original video.
Although the algorithm is messy and mysterious, gambling has worked for thousands of musicians on the app. Some artists that I love are EASHA, Neiori, and Payday. Everyone was focused on getting their music out on TikTok, but accidentally went viral after likes and shares accumulated in videos they posted to share their music.
EASHA’s song “Dying is a Beautiful Thing to Do” started on TikTok and has since landed on the radio. She is also well on the way to making music more viral.
TikTok also heavily influences who tops the charts by turning songs into remixes and trends. This applies to new and already popular artists. I think we all remember the legendary TikTok by Cyrus who sang “Heart Of Glass” and eventually got them to put the cover out on all streaming platforms. Remixes of “Good Days” by SZA brought the song up months before it was released.
Due to the curation of TikTok, once a creator’s music has found the right audience for your site, it will be assigned to a specific trend or aesthetic (see: Indie-Girl TikTok).
TikTok isn’t just a one-way street to fame, however. The waiting game has proven to be much longer for POC musicians starting their careers. Because of TikTok’s built-in use of duet, stitch, and audio, it can be difficult to trace the origins of a song or idea.
When a creator’s song is tied into a remix or played in the background of a dance video that happens to go viral, they don’t get nearly enough credit that they deserve. We see this happening disproportionately with POC developers, especially black women. It’s annoying to say, but it depends on who lands on your page for you and whether you, the user, go out of your way to support the artists you see.
Ultimately, TikTok songs and trends are short-lived. Several songs go viral every month and then die away. There’s a much bigger conversation going on about whether TikTok trends and popular music are even an indicator of good music, or whether the viral songs are just catchy enough to be used by a larger audience.
I think that’s where my biggest separation between TikTok and music comes from. While I’ve discovered great artists from the videos I watch, I don’t particularly see that in the app’s biggest trends because like everyone else, I live in my own niche.
The biggest change, with TikTok songs being played on the radio and recognized by major music professionals, is that the app is just a new pool of songs to choose from. It doesn’t necessarily indicate good or bad music as we can hope for.
So I would advise anyone looking to broaden their musical tastes or start their own music career to keep an eye on the algorithm and know that your niche isn’t the only one out there!