TikTok is a platform that became available worldwide in August 2018, with over 2 billion mobile downloads. A range of content is available, from comedy, fashion, and make-up, to music, dance, and education, with videos ranging from 15 – 60 seconds. Snippets of songs are usually associated with trends on the app and there is a feature where you can view videos that specifically feature that audio clip, for example, to see a collection of videos doing one specific trend. This provides a large amount of exposure for the artists whose music features in a popular trend, as there is such a large audience on the app.
TikTok is useful to get exposure to a range of different audiences who wouldn’t have been exposed to that artist otherwise. An example of this is Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. The video that went viral showed a man skateboarding, lip-syncing to the song, and drinking cranberry juice. This video currently has 80.3 million views. The exposure made both the song and Ocean Spray much more popular, with the song re-entering the charts in 2020, even though it came out in the 70s, and reached number 12 on the billboard hot 100.
Lana Del Rey’s Queen of Disaster was also used, with the lyrics “I’m spinning like a ballerina”. The interesting thing about this song is that it’s one of Lana’s unreleased songs and was leaked online 7 years ago. On Youtube, in the last 11 months, the unofficial lyric video for the full song has accumulated 18 million views. Lana’s an artist with a large backlog of unreleased material. This song’s popularity might persuade her label to release an album of these old songs, as it’s now clear there’s an audience for her unreleased music that Lana and her team may have deemed not good enough or too different from her popular singles for release in the past.
These viral songs seem to get popular randomly. TikTok is promoting creativity and collaboration by creating a community around a soundbite and I wonder what effect this will have on the music industry. I question if this is changing what labels want from their artists’ singles and if they are looking to promote songs that would be a unique 30-second experience if you came across it on the app. I also am interested to see if labels try to manufacture and engineer this seemingly random, natural occurrence.