by ELLA TODD '21
Chances are that most students reading this have a TikTok account. It's easy to spend hours on the addicting app scrolling through cooking recipes, learning new dances, and connecting with others around the world who share your same niche interests. TikTok has become somewhat of a cultural revolution with its popular creators turning the app into their career. Similarly, unknown or small musical artists have gained recognition which can lead to their music playing on the radio.
After absorbing the app Musical.ly, TikTok ensured that the app was known for more than just lip-synching. Songs on TikTok often become trends---think dramatically falling to Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” or dancing to BENEE’s “Supalonely.” Both of these trends dramatically helped these songs gain traction among TikTok’s 800 million users. The app’s algorithm is focused on showing new videos rather than only those from popular creators. Once these new sounds receive likes and attention, they appear on other user’s For You Page (the central page of the app where new videos appear). This means that it’s easy for someone or their music to quickly rise to fame. All they need to do is upload their original song to the app. However, videos tend to gain more views when they use trending hashtags.
It may have seemed like the Billboard charts used to determine what was popular on TikTok, now it’s the other way around. Although Olivia Rodrigo was already known for her work on Disney+, TikTok was certainly influential in her new single reaching the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and breaking streaming records. Already established hits like Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” also circle through the FYP (For You Page). The app has boosted smash hits like “Old Town Road” which was originally promoted as a meme but resulted in a chart-topping collaboration with Billy Ray Cyrus.
While some may criticize the fact that the songs gaining popularity from the app are undeserving, TikTok is a great way for people without connections in the music industry to make a career for themselves. They no longer need to rely on the resources of their label. All someone needs to go viral is a catchy song! These artists can then easily connect with the fans on the app that made them popular. The app is also a great way for people to expose themselves to music they normally would never listen to and find new musical talents to listen to!