TikTok perpetuates nepotism within the music business – The Every day Free Press
Little before TikTok rose from the ashes of its predecessor, Vine, short, viral videos could create as lasting fame on the internet as they have before. Now TikToker like Charli D’Amelio have become as good as a household name.
Charlie D’Amelio’s older sister Dixie and another TikTok star, Addison Rae, recently took advantage of their celebrity status and targeted the music industry. With the wide reach of their social media fame, these stars can open up opportunities in virtually any field they want to pursue, be it fashion, beauty, podcasting, modeling, acting, or music.
Dixie D’Amelio and Rae have since released singles that have been widely criticized as mediocre, but have earned a spot on the emerging artists list with millions of streams. The artists even got the privilege of starring Jimmy Fallon on celebrity talk shows like The Tonight Show.
Your talent is not the driving force behind your realm. Rather, their conventional beauty, wealth, and family relationships – in the case of Dixie D’Amelio – coupled with the alarming power of TikTok have guaranteed them success regardless of the quality of their content.
Dixie D’Amelio’s father was the one who helped her set up an appointment with Grammy-nominated songwriter and producer Billy Mann to help kickstart her music career. As a result, Dixie D’Amelio worked with established artists Blackbear, Lil Mosey, and Liam Payne.
Though not through family relationships, Rae was able to use the fame she gained from her looks and participation in TikTok dance trends to enlist the help of high profile studios, songwriters, producers and agencies to expand into pop music.
Privilege is a lack of barriers, obstacles, and disadvantages. With Dixie D’Amelio and Rae it is also the opportunity to start their music careers with a significant advantage – they were already famous, well known and in demand. No wonder they were offered these lucrative opportunities.
Nepotism, pretty privilege, and white privilege have permeated the music and entertainment industries for a while, but wrinkling social media influencers so casually highlights these shortcomings.
Alexia Nizhny / DFP STAFF
While artists like Miley Cyrus, Willow Smith, Whitney Houston, and Enrique Iglesias have enjoyed the benefits of celebrity parents, their music careers appear to be primarily based on merit and talent. It’s hard to justify the same thing for Dixie D’Amelio and her songs “One Whole Day” and “Be Happy”.
But at least Dixie D’Amelio and Rae are transparent about their roots – perhaps because their rise to fame has been so well documented.
The pre-existing nepotism and preference in the industry were, in comparison, more hidden and better protected. In the indie genre in particular, Bedroom Pop is marketed as inclusive and accessible. It’s a newer genre, and as the name suggests, it doesn’t seem to require connections, recording studios, or equipment – just your voice, passion, a microphone, and a bedroom.
Unfortunately, many of the popular, inspirational stories of pop artists in the bedroom don’t tell the whole truth. Indie artist Clairo, for example, appears to be the personification of a “rags to riches” success story based on one of her YouTube videos Videos went viral before it hit the music scene. In reality, she owes her success in part to her father, Geoff Cottrill, who knew the co-founder of the label with whom she signed.
Numerous other “down-to-earth” artists, such as King Princess, actually benefited from their parental relationships or wealth.
A lack of transparency with the artists we idolize – about the process and how they needed to be where they are – just gives fans a false sense of inspiration and removes the very real obstacles most other musicians face. We need the artists themselves to acknowledge the problem and nepotism that they benefited from before we can begin to fix it.
One could argue that the music industry’s barrier to entry has decreased in recent years and that anyone with a computer and a voice can achieve fame. All you have to do is upload your songs to SoundCloud, Bandcamp, Spotify or TikTok. TikTok in particular, due to its ability to spread viral songs and sounds, can improve an unknown artist’s platform and reach the For You pages of thousands of users.
Against this background, we could even conclude that nepotism is changing forms: family influence is being replaced by the influence of social media.
The problem with this logic, however, is that even if the barrier to entry is lowered, which effectively gives potential singers a chance at fame, the barriers for color artists already known or related and unequal remain clearly prioritized: the way the colorism directly affects the success of female color artists, the whitewashing of prestigious awards, the stigma of music venues, and any microaggression or ingrained racism that discourages new musicians every step of the way.
Ultimately, Dixie D’Amelio and Rae’s successes are just symptoms of a bigger problem with how we “discover” new talent. We shouldn’t send them hatred for their recognition and privilege of exploring new passions – wouldn’t you? Furthermore, this criticism can easily be linked to internalized misogyny that everyone must overcome.
Using up energy by criticizing their songs is counterproductive and only serves to get them more press and attention. Instead, we could use our collective strength to promote as many smaller artists as possible by actively seeking and supporting those who produce music on popular platforms like Spotify – or even those who start doing their local open mics after the pandemic .