TikTok’s Undeniable Impact on the Music Industry

Faith Lee, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Every TikTok user has that one song or audio that always gets stuck in their head after their daily video binge. These tend to be the catchiest, most upbeat songs that we add to our playlists while they’re popular, but in two weeks skip and wonder, “why on Earth would I add that to my playlist?”

TikTok has taken the world by storm, dominating the virtual world and specifically the music industry. The viral app attracts over one billion users worldwide, and the algorithm makes it so that virtually anyone can go viral on the app.  

While ordinary people now have a platform to go viral, it has also given many music artists the opportunity to jumpstart or even revamp their careers. This can be useful for artists now, but in the long run it will be detrimental to the music industry. 

TikTok dominates the music industry right now. Popular users like Charli D’amelio and Addison Rae influence what sounds and songs will cycle through the app for a week. If a song is trending on TikTok, it will most likely trend on the charts too. 

But let’s be honest, half of the “trendy” or popularized songs on the app are trash. All they have is a fast beat and a catchy hook, but lack bridges, complexity or any type of versatility. These tracks are mostly created by up and coming artists that fizzle out with their songs.  

There are so many songs that I love for the week that it appears on every other video on my for you page, but once the “hit” dies down, I never hear or think about the song or the artist again. These one hit wonder artists have little longevity and mainstream pull. 

Rapper Megan Thee Stallion has risen to fast fame over the past two years with the help of TikTok. 

Songs like Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” ruled TikTok in the beginning of 2020. “Savage” was the most played song on TikTok for March 2020 which landed her a platinum record. Meg even earned a number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with Beyoncé for “Savage Remix.”

While Meg Thee Stallion has a solid career and has established herself outside of TikTok, her long term success is questionable, and raises the question: “would she be as successful if TikTok did not exist?”  I believe that if the app did not exist, Meg still would’ve made a name for herself, but TikTok has certainly given a huge boost to her and many other artists’ careers.

In this fast paced society, we’re accustomed to instant gratification, having everything from news to music at the click of a button so it’s easy to see why hits and singles would be appealing to listeners. No one wants to wait for an album that can take years to be released. 

Singles seem to be all the rage these days and now they can define an artist’s career before their debut album arrives. 

In January 2021, actress and singer Olivia Rodrigo’s single, “Driver’s License” took the world by storm after rising to popularity due to TikTok. It’s immense popularity led the single to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The song was almost inescapable for a week after it’s release. While listeners’ positive response to the song showed a glimpse of a promising career for Rodrigo, there’s no sign of an album to follow. 

Honestly, waiting a year for an artist to drop an album with decent vocals and lyricism is worth the wait rather than an artist releasing two minute flops every month to land a number one spot on the Billboard charts and trend on TikTok. 

Albums are bodies of work that display an artist’s range and creativity. Music is supposed to tell stories and be authentic to the artist, not be used as a money generator. 

I hope that for the music industry’s sake, artists and record labels realize that sooner or later fans will stop demanding popular pop tunes and will begin to crave actual bodies of work.