The Transformative Impact of TikTok on the Music Industry

TikTok’s Impact on the Music Industry: Empowering Artists and Reshaping Promotion: TikTok, the burgeoning social media platform, has transformed into a vital player in the music industry, revolutionizing how artists gain recognition and reshaping promotional strategies. This platform, known for its short-form videos, has rapidly become a go-to hub for music discovery, where record labels, music marketers, artists, and creators flock to showcase songs. Its influence has made it an essential promotional tool for music artists and record labels alike.


What sets TikTok apart is its ability to bring new life to songs that may have been outside the mainstream for decades. Moreover, the app’s unique environment allows marketers to collaborate with influencers, propelling songs to viral status and fueling a cascade of user-generated content. To enhance song visibility, artists have even been known to arrange exclusive listening sessions with TikTok influencers, hoping to give new tracks a boost.


TikTok’s commitment to the music industry is evident through its global team, which collaborates with artists and record labels, negotiates licensing agreements, and innovates ways to convert cultural influence into consistent revenue streams. In 2022, the platform introduced SoundOn, a song distribution platform, and speculations arise about its potential entry into the music streaming sector, as suggested by a trademark filing by its parent company, ByteDance.


This ambitious foray into music has prompted collaboration concerns with record labels, especially as TikTok diversifies into artist services. By working closely with major rights holders and demonstrating how its music initiatives can translate into mutual financial benefits, TikTok aims to establish harmonious relationships while negotiating licensing agreements.


Despite its impact, TikTok’s concentrated focus can be overwhelming for artists. Established performers like Halsey and Charli XCX have expressed frustration at the expectation to create TikTok content. Balancing social promotion with creative work can be stressful for artists like Taylor Upsahl, who find themselves juggling various aspects of their careers.


Yet, the music industry’s interest in TikTok is justified. Songs that trend on TikTok often translate into high chart placements on platforms like Billboard 100 and Spotify’s Viral 50. A study conducted by music-analytics firm MRC Data in November 2021 revealed that 67% of TikTok users are more inclined to seek out songs on music-streaming services after encountering them on the app.


TikTok has become the prime promotional ground for both new releases and timeless tracks from record labels’ back catalogs. A new wave of social media music marketers has arisen to support these promotional campaigns on the platform. This blending of music and short-form video has extended beyond TikTok, influencing apps like Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram. YouTube’s music executive, Lyor Cohen, expressed his focus on short-form video in the company’s music strategy.


The financial landscape of TikTok’s music involvement includes paying creators to endorse songs. These promotional deals between music marketers and influencers have turned into significant income sources for TikTok creators. While superstars were initially the preference, marketers now lean towards micro-influencers due to content saturation.


Beyond influencer collaborations, record labels are also engaging non-influencer accounts for song campaigns. Ordinary users, from slime enthusiasts to quirky content creators, have proved effective in generating interest around songs. Platforms like Pearpop and Preffy are providing opportunities for users of all followings to participate in song and artist campaigns through user-generated video challenges.


Augmented reality (AR) effects further contribute to song promotion. Custom AR filters featuring specific songs enhance user engagement and video creation, offering a unique avenue to promote tracks. Record labels meticulously track TikTok’s impact by observing shifts in streaming numbers on platforms like Spotify and changes in audience demographics on YouTube. These signals help gauge the effectiveness of TikTok song campaigns.


TikTok’s influence begins even before the release of songs. Artists like Tiagz have amassed followings by creating songs that cleverly reference the app’s memes and trends, leveraging its algorithms to their advantage. Remixes have gained immense popularity on TikTok. Manipulating the tempo, layering tracks, and combining songs have sparked a culture of remixing that both artists and marketers are capitalizing on.


Despite its undeniable influence, TikTok has led to artist fatigue due to its demands on their time. Artists are grappling with the need to become content creators and influencers alongside their core creative pursuits. Internally, TikTok’s music division plays a pivotal role in monitoring music trends, collaborating with artists, handling licensing, and introducing innovative products like SoundOn and Resso.


To bolster song popularity, TikTok’s music operations team strategically utilizes promotion levers, curating playlists and optimizing search interface keywords. This includes giving special attention to artists like Taylor Swift and Beyoncé, even overriding algorithms to boost their views.


Private listening sessions with creators have become a powerful tool for artists and labels. By involving creators in the process, these sessions help identify aspects of songs that resonate and generate interest on TikTok. The radio industry is also adapting to TikTok’s rise, using short-form video to engage listeners and discover new music. SiriusXM launched a dedicated TikTok Radio channel in partnership with the platform.


In essence, TikTok’s impact on the music industry is profound. It has become an unparalleled platform for music discovery, promoting songs and reshaping how artists engage with their audiences. While presenting challenges for artists, TikTok’s ability to spark viral trends and influence musical trends is undeniable, making it a dynamic force in the modern music landscape.


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