How TikTok Remodeled the Music Industry

By Kailyn Lunn, Entertainment Editor

Creator culture is changing the way artists make hits and how they are promoted and discovered.

Fleetwood Mac released “Dreams,” the second single from their album “Rumours,” in 1977. It became the band’s highest-charting single in the 70s.

“Dreams” reentered the “Billboard Hot 100” in Oct. 2020, following a viral TikTok video of Nathan Apodaca skateboarding and drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice while lip-syncing to the song.

TikTok revived a variety of old hits along with “Dreams,” including “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” by Edison Lighthouse and “Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington Jr. and Bill Withers.

The platform also aids new artists in building their careers.

This begins with “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, when millions had the lyrics “I got the horses in the back” stuck in their heads. It broke the record for the most consecutive weeks at number one, and still holds that title today.

In 2020, TikTok revealed that over 70 artists that started on their platform signed with major labels, such as Columbia and RCA.

Even if TikTok fame isn’t the artist’s end-goal, the app’s users swiftly promote music.

Olivia Rodrigo released “Drivers License” on Jan. 8, 2021. Beforehand, she was a Disney actress known for her role in the Disney+ original show “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.”

One-point-four million users created content with snippets of “Drivers License.” Her debut album, “SOUR,” broke the record for the largest release week of a debut album. Rodrigo also broke the record for the most songs on the “Billboard Hot 100” with eight songs, surpassing Taylor Swift.

Within the past two years, TikTok changed the business model used by record labels. Rather than record labels discovering artists, they must prove their ability to gain a following on their own.

Along with the opportunity to gain rapid success on the app came the growth of self-sufficient artists.

Streaming services allow artists to independently upload their work. For example, Spotify introduced the program “Spotify for Artists” in 2018. Artists can view stats and create ads for their work within the program.

As of right now, it is unclear if TikTok creators will continue down the path of creativity they’re on currently or start to cater to virality.

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