How Does TikTok Change the Music Industry?

Everybody knows TikTok. Everybody knows the teenage stars and celebrities who dance to their favorite music to millions of followers. But have you ever wondered how this new app might change the music industry as we know it?

TikTok was created by Chinese company ByteDance and is a popular video sharing and networking app that boasts over one billion current users. The app features videos no longer than a minute on a range of subjects, such as dance, comedy, sports, and education. It’s easy to see how funny trends and videos can easily go viral on this popular app, and the music used on these videos is no exception.
Artists are always looking for new ways to promote their musical careers, but they are in need of new outlets more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the world went online, labels did as well. Several new and incredibly popular artists have had their careers born on TikTok, artists who garnered little attention before their respective hits blew up on the app. 

Australian teenager The Kid LAROI came into stardom when his song, “Addison Rae” was used in a video by TikTok star Addison herself for her audience of more than 50 million viewers. A similar situation occurred with Southern Californian rapper 24kgoldn. His early 2019 song, “VALENTINO”, was brought to internet virality when TikTok user avivasofia posted a video of her singing along towards the end of August 2019. As a result, 24kgoldn’s monthly listeners on Spotify increased from 972,000 to 4.7 million by that November. 

As a result of this popularity, followers and other users publish their own videos using or involving that specific sound. Mikael Wood, Pop Music Reviewer at the LA Times, recently spoke on an NPR Podcast. “People, even in the [TikTok] company, told me that you could hear the same song in five different videos in five minutes,” he claimed. The most viewed video published on TikTok to date has amassed an incredible 2.2 billion views.                                   

While some songs on TikTok blow up and make careers, the app also serves as a vehicle for older songs to return to the charts. Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 hit “Dreams” recently found its way back onto the Billboard Top 100 after a video featuring the song went viral. What this means is that some users of the app actually leave TikTok for their desired streaming service in order to hear the song in full. 

At the moment, the music streaming industry is at a level of competition that works for the consumer, as few, but incredibly popular platforms are available, such as Spotify, SoundCloud, YouTube, and even the new venture, Tidal. However, a new agreement between TikTok and global agency Merlin ensures that thousands of independent artists can now receive royalties with the licensed use of their music on the app. TikTok has also been rumored to have been developing its own streaming service platform, which could serve to be a rival to Spotify. If ByteDance can manage to include the socially interactive and engaging features of TikTok, its new platform could become the future of streaming. 

It’s no secret that ByteDance and TikTok are looking for their next venture in the music industry, and after the success of TikTok’s pairing of music and popularity, they could likely corner the market in important, upcoming markets such as India. Before TikTok was banned in India in January 2021, the ratio of TikTok downloads to Spotify installations was never less than 8:1. In fact, as of August 2020, India had more than 650 million downloads of TikTok, more than three times its nearest competitor, China. While TikTok is still illegal to use in India, the rapid growth in popularity shows the app’s ability to spread through any country. 

In conclusion, the influence of TikTok is incomparable, a size of which the world has never seen before. While the entertainment giant of TikTok has made its presence known to the world, the music giant of TikTok still sleeps. If it wakes, it may one day turn an ordinary  music streaming industry into an all-out monopolistic warzone.