CW / Tomia Teague
Even people who don’t have TikTok on their home screen must find it hard to avoid the app’s influence.
Dances, challenges and comedy bits from the social media giant, which only allows video posts of under a minute in length, appear on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Famous creators show up on “The Tonight Show” and in their own streaming reality shows.
The app skyrocketed in popularity when COVID-19 arrived in the United States in early 2020. Along with being a fun way to express oneself with or without their friends, the app has become a platform where individuals can make a name for themselves.
TikTok’s most-followed user, Charli D’Amelio, has around 111 million followers because of her remakes of viral dances. She made upwards of $5 million just last year.
Other users like Addison Rae and Dixie D’Amelio, Charli’s sister, have used the app to boost their brands. Both have released music that has reached incredible levels of success, and Rae has even started her own beauty line.
But the most interesting thing about the app is how its videos and dances have influenced the music industry. Most videos on the app are accompanied by a song that plays in the background and the more popular the video gets, the more popular the song gets. The more that correlation grows, the more the people behind the music benefit.
For example, the 1977 smash hit “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac became the sound of a huge TikTok trend started by DoggFace208.
His video featured him riding on a skateboard while drinking cranberry juice and enjoying the hit song. Others soon began remaking the video using the song. It was a simplistic trend, but its impact was mind blowing.
Users streamed the song 8.47 million times across music platforms in September alone. The song “Dreams,” which hadn’t topped charts in decades, reclaimed its number-one spot.
Older music isn’t the only genre benefitting from the app, though. It’s also turning ordinary people into well-known superstars.
Take Lil Nas X. In 2018, his now two-time Grammy-winning song “Old Town Road” began to gain traction on the app. It has now become the most platinum-certified song ever.
Country singer Morgan Wallen also felt the app’s impact. A short snippet of the chorus of an unreleased track called “7 Summers” became extremely popular on the app, with fans begging him to release the full version. A few weeks later he did, and now it’s one of his most recognizable tracks.
And Olivia Rodrigo, an actress a “High School Musical” spinoff television series on Disney+, wasn’t exactly an average teen. But after a clip of her breakup-inspired song “Driver’s License” began circling around the app, her fame reached new heights. In January, the single set the Spotify record for streams in a day with 15.17 million. At one point, the hit was the #1 song on Apple Music in 48 different countries.
If one is still not convinced that the app is changing the music industry, here’s the mic drop: In 2020, 70 artists signed with major record labels because their hits went viral on the app, including artists like Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat and Arizona Zervas. So, it’s easy to expect that number to double, possibly triple, in 2021.
If you’re an artist still waiting on your shining moment, the future is bright. That is, if you can endure the inevitable dancing, the bad lip-syncing and the ever-present oddities of internet culture that are bound to come along with it.