The majority of us have at some point downloaded TikTok, or if not, we’ve at least heard about it. It is a platform for people to express themselves, posting videos to a variety of sounds that are featured on the app. As different trends take popularity, different sounds become popular as a result. This social media app has a large impact on the music industry, from the way songs are now written, all the way to chart-topping hits.
If you take a closer look at popular music on the app, you may find that songs have been written specifically for it. There may be features such as a ‘1,2,3!’ followed by a beat drop, making the song feel almost as though it has been manufactured specifically for a TikTok video concept (such as a transition into a cool outfit or new haircut), thus giving it the opportunity to be the next big trend. Although from a business standpoint this is extremely clever, maybe this idea makes music feel less freeing, passionate and human, and more robotic, corporate and structured. And once you are aware of features like this, does it make the song feel manufactured like a product off an assembly line rather than a piece of art?
The structure of songs has also changed over time. This isn’t entirely due to the influence of TikTok, but the app has definitely played a part nonetheless. There has been a rise in almost the ‘trend’ of songs starting with a chorus rather than a verse. This could be a stylistic choice, however certainly has its benefits when it comes to making songs popular on the app. Generally, the chorus is the hook of the song; the reason why people listen to it and enjoy it as a whole. By putting the hook at the beginning, it instantly makes people want to listen to the entirety of the song. This is necessary in modern music to keep up with the continuous rapid consumption of content. When I watch a video on TikTok, if it doesn’t interest me immediately, I’ll scroll past it. The lessening ability to stay focused on something that may take longer than a minute, as a result of the many short videos we spend large amounts of time scrolling through on the app, has caused our attention spans to be shortened. If people can’t watch the entirety of a 60 second video on TikTok, then they most likely don’t have the attention span to listen to a whole 3 minute song if they decide they don’t like it within the first 15 seconds. The modern day listener needs to be hooked almost immediately if the song is to find any major chart success.
The rise in popularity of the app has made it easier to quickly rise to fame and find success in the industry. Improvements in technology have also meant that people all over the world are able to record and produce a song themselves on their laptops, and promote it easily on the TikTok app. It is also a lot cheaper, making it the preferred form of making music among young musicians. I imagine that most of us have probably attempted to have a go at GarageBand and try to make the next No.1 hit (although I have to give credit to the professionals – it’s harder than it looks!). Despite this seemingly positive idea, being able to do all of the production and promotion concerned when making and releasing a song has caused roles within the industry to slowly become obsolete. If the direction that the music industry is headed continues, the overall sustainability may be affected. Nevertheless, for independent artists who may not be able to afford a producer or marketing team, the app provides a great way to get their music out into the world, to be heard by as many people as possible. Looking at the charts nowadays, the majority of top-selling songs first gained popularity on TikTok. Different internet trends can become viral, and if your record is the one featured in this, then it’s a fast track to fame. The more popular a song is on the app, the more streams it gets, and the greater its chart success. Many artists, such as Doja Cat, rose to fame after their songs were used in viral videos. Now, they are critically acclaimed musicians with award winning singles and albums. TikTok has become an amazing way to market music to a large audience. From the point of view of a young or new artist, this is extremely helpful as it is free and has the possibility of leading to fame and international success.