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TikTok continues to change the music industry

By Ella Rodrigues

Staff Writer


Music is a huge part of many people’s lives. It can set the mood and tone for what is to come next and is a tool that has been utilized across many spaces. The music industry is a wild and complicated landscape that has remained relatively untouched throughout the years. 

The music industry has a history of making it difficult for independent artists to get recognition, to garner deals, and to gain popularity through their music. This all changed in September of 2016 with the breakthrough of the app TikTok.

The top 100 songs for the week of May , 2021. PHOTO CREDIT: Billboard

This app completely revolutionized the way that the music industry worked. The way that TikTok works is that users can record videos of themselves dancing, lip singing or posting other content. Much of the content on the app is able to use songs available on the app. 

According to on the way that music on TikTok is able to be used is that, “TikTok has deals in place with distributors and labels in order to license music for the app. Artists then receive royalties from having their music used on the platform. Distributors such as Distrokid, CD Baby and TuneCore allow artists to upload their music to TikTok along with streaming platforms such as Spotify.”

The way that the music industry has been functioning is based on the charts. According to The Music Gateway, “Historically, music charts are lists based on popularity of songs and albums. They are showcased in order to highlight the trends of each era according to the level of consumption. In the modern day world, we are talking about physical sales, digital downloads and radio airplay.”

Singer Doja Cat and her performance of “Say So” on the Tonight Show. PHOTO CREDIT: The Tonight Show

The success of music on the app can be seen with artists such as Doja Cat. Once an independent artist posting songs on SoundCloud, Doja Cat found incredible fame through TikTok. Her viral hit “Say So” racked up millions of streams skyrocketing the single onto the charts. This paired alongside a quickly catching on dance across the app created the perfect recipe for the song’s smashing success.

This formula has been applied multiple times since then. An artist releases a new song, users of the app find that song and start creating content with it. Much of the comedy, dances, and lip syncing catch on becoming viral, and then the streams start coming in.

As more and more people on the app come across the song, the more exposure it receives. People using the music in the background of their videos. Sharing the songs and videos to those who do not have the app.

The unpredictability of the TikTok algorithm is accredited to much of the success. Anyone can scroll across a video with a new song and even if the video is not liked the interaction boosts the popularity of the video.

TikTok is changing the way that music is consumed and has the power to put small independent artists on the map and even turn these singers into superstars.


FEATURED IMAGE (at the top of this post): A photo representing TikTok and music. (PHOTO CREDIT: Carbon Magazine)

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