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  • Writer's pictureAlexander Matambo

How TikTok is Changing the Music Industry

TikTok has a deep-rooted history in music, having originated as the music-based social media service The app has since grown to become an essential promotional tool for record labels and artists.

With music discovery at the core of its identity, budding artists can use the platform to promote their music and build a global following. TikTok has a track record of making songs from relatively unknown artists become viral hits overnight.

An example of this is how in January 2021, a teenager released a breakup song that launched thousands of TikToks and quickly earned the #1 spot on the Billboard Top 100.

Olivia Rodrigo, an actress best known for her role in Disney +’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series. The song put Rodrigo in a familiar Disney-to–pop star trajectory in the vein of Selena Gomez and Miley Cyrus.

How TikTok is Changing Music

1. Changing Music Consumption Patterns

A good number of new, unique fans will end up streaming your song after seeing a snippet or dance choreography on Tiktok. A study from a music analytics company, MRC Data, found that 67% of app users will likely actively seek out songs on music streaming platforms after hearing them on TikTok.

This new era of consumers listens to music based on its virality. This is due to how the TikTok algorithm differs from those of the other music streaming platforms. On TikTok, users continuously discover songs they have never heard before, unlike on other platforms that recommend music based on the users' predetermined preferences or artists they already know.

Thus, TikTok allows for more discoverability for new artists and record labels.

2. Shortened Distribution Channels

The success of an artists' new single is now just a few clicks away. Originally, artists had to rely on record labels' resources and networks to get their name and music out to the masses.

On the other hand, TikTok has a massive younger audience that artists can target and access without the need for external resources. The TikTok audience is also generally responsive and always on the lookout for new trends and content, making them an ideal target for budding artists.

So now an artist can upload their singles on TikTok and bypass the traditional media channels that music used to follow, and have a considerable portion of the TikTok audience vibing to their music in a matter of hours.

3. New Music Experiences

On top of changing the way music sounds, TikTok has provided fans with new ways to enjoy and engage with music. During the COVID pandemic, technology undoubtedly stepped in to recreate live music experiences.

Lil Nas pulled in 33 million views from his series of Roblox Shows, Travis Scott attracted 27 million fans to his virtual Fortnite concert, and BTS's live-streamed concert brought in 1 million viewers. The BTS show was a paid event, suggesting that a considerable number of music fans are willing to pay for virtual experiences.

As a highly visual platform with a fast-growing userbase primarily made up of younger audiences, TikTok is a prime candidate for online concert experiences.

4. An Essential Growth Engine for Record Labels

TikTok quickly became a hub for labels to promote new songs and back catalogue tracks; birthing a new generation of aspiring social media music marketers to support promotion efforts on the platform. Many labels have dedicated teams that monitor the platform so they can help fan the flames of trending songs when they start to take off.

As of now, it is impossible to predict what songs or videos will go viral on TikTok. Most labels and music marketing experts exercise a fair amount of trial and error in their TikTok strategy.

While some songs take off by accident, as was the case with , other times, record labels and marketers work closely with closely with influencer and agencies to promote particular songs in their videos and go after trends that stick.

An example of this is Megan the Stallion's "Savage" which blew in popularity in early 2020 as a result of a savvy marketing campaign. The song spawned millions of TikToks from users who recreated its choreography and increased the overall hype around the track.


TikTok is undoubtedly a gamechanger for record labels and artists who want to promote their music. With its innovative features and engaged audience, if used effectively, TikTok can provide a shot at a free ride to overnight success!


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