TikTok: The Internet’s Viral Hit Machine

TikTok: The Internet’s Viral Hit Machine

Formerly known as musical.ly, an app that allowed users to make videos of themselves lip-syncing to songs, TikTok has taken the internet by storm over the past year. The video-centric social media app has seen a huge surge in users since March, likely due to the onset of the pandemic. Although a five-minute perusal on the app today shows that lip-syncing videos still remain a good chunk of the app’s content, TikTok has come to offer much more than that. Specifically, the app’s insane ability to make certain songs go viral. To see what effect TikTok has had on the music industry, we invite you to read this article.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.latimes.com

The music business started to take note of TikTok quickly since it gained the reputation for having the uncanny ability to make certain songs go viral. “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, “Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion, and “Say So” by Doja Cat are all well-known chart toppers that attained their status by first emerging, then going viral, on the platform. With the way TikTok is set up, it’s not really surprising how songs can quickly reach a mass audience. The main page is controlled by an algorithm that specifically feeds each user videos it thinks they will like, regardless if they follow the creators or not. Users are thus consistently exposed to new and different content each time they log in. This is incredibly effective for song exposure, as you can scroll for three minutes and hear the same song five different times in five completely different videos. If a song gets lucky, it inspires a random user (or even an influencer) to make a video using it, and consequentially more and more videos get made until it becomes a viral hit. Because of its sheer randomness, TikTok has been championed by many independent artists as a platform that breaks the gatekeeping nature of the major labels and their respective marketing machines. The general users decide what goes viral, which could be literally anything.

Of course, there is the phenomenon of the quintessential “TikTok song.” Songs like “Toosie Slide” by Drake and “Yummy” by Justin Bieber are obvious ones that come to mind. Lately, it seems many musicians are attempting to make songs with the intention of them to be used on the platform specifically, shown by a steady rise in recently-released songs that have huge drops or noticeable key changes. These characteristics give them a higher potential to be used as a transitional moment in a video, like for outfit or makeup transformations, which are an extremely popular type of video on the app. However, it’s nearly impossible to narrow down the exact DNA of a TikTok hit, since there have been many different genres of songs that can be classified as such. The best way to describe the correlation of all the platform’s hits is mediocre at best, with vague descriptors of songs being “playful,” “danceable,” and “relatable,” or have lyrics that could be turned into a meme, like “Old Town Road.”

So, what then happens to those artists whose songs go viral? Apparently, a good number are offered record deals from major labels. This has garnered some criticism, as some music insiders argue that a viral hit doesn’t guarantee an artist’s longevity. They suggest that chasing momentary hits instead of investing in an artist’s long-term career is a recipe for disaster, because it’s important for labels to give equal attention to artists’ songs that aren’t necessarily “viral on TikTok” material. Ultimately, handing out too many deals based solely on a hit could end up funneling unnecessary dollars into mediocre artists with one-hit wonders, instead of funding artists who could really make a larger musical impact.

In terms of TikTok’s future, many are optimistic that it will only continue to gain popularity over time. With the pandemic not allowing for live music anytime soon, it seems that it will also continue to be one of the best places to thrive as an artist or musician, especially as the platform’s executives continue to try to find more try to find more ways for artists to monetize their content on top of the licensing rights for the songs.

For more information on how the music business and TikTok work together, visit the source article at the Los Angeles Times website.

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