Once the reigning champ of 2016, Musical.ly has made an undeniable comeback for a chance at a round 2 knockout and reinvented itself as the app which has taken the internet by storm: TikTok. For the very, very few that are unfamiliar, it’s a platform where people can post short videos including dance, singing, short comedic clips, and loads more. More recently, and much to the dismay of niche music lovers everywhere, top tracks on Billboard 100 have largely been dominated by TikTok’s top dogs. So, how does it work?
Overnight sensations like Charli D’Amelio are not the only products of 2020’s newest viral trendsetter. On TikTok, you can use songs as background audio for your videos. Sometimes these songs end up having a trend linked with them, such as a designated filter or challenge. This can instantaneously boost a song (that may not have been that popular otherwise) straight to the top of the charts. Some artists even release songs with the intention of them becoming ‘TikTok famous,’ by releasing clips from their songs as audio options on TikTok, and letting the platform do its magic. For example, Justin Bieber is just one of many to cleverly make use of this free app as promotional advertisement for his song “Yummy”, and accompanied it with an attempt to attach a signature dance- unfortunately, it didn’t work out like he wanted it to.
I personally have mixed feelings towards this. On one hand, I really love how TikTok has encouraged music artists to release more content for their newfound fans as their popularity reaches new highs. It has proved itself a useful tool in introducing people to different styles of music and broadening their musical horizons in ways they may not have come across before. This further creates careers for people who may have begun to lose faith in their trajectory in the music industry: one riddled with its respective struggles, but also speckled with rare and fulfilling rewards for the few who ‘make it’. An example of this is the artist Trevor Daniel. Before his hit song “Falling”, he was on the verge of giving up with music, even though it was his passion. But because of TikTok, he had the opportunity to continue pursuing the career he loved.
On the other hand, one’s trek upwards could be the architect of its own downfall. If a song becomes super popular on this platform, it may be overused in ads, other TikToks, Youtube videos, and similar mediums, causing the song to lose that new feel that shot it to fame in the first place. This may decrease the amount of time the song is a hit for and, instead, turn it into a cringeworthy song that makes you want to change radio stations the second you hear it. Although it has brought back oldies (see term: ‘boomer music’) like “Funky Town”, it is not without a price: the ever-bittersweet feeling of hearing it followed by the words “Oh, it’s that TikTok song!”.