TikTok plays a bigger part than we think in the music industry

Art courtesy of TikTok

By Jillian Veldey | Staff Writer

It’s no secret that TikTok, an app where people can create and post short videos to a virtual forum, is rapidly growing in popularity. TikTok teens have become the newest celebrities, including Addison Easterling, better known as Addison Rae, who was reported to make $5 million every year from the app. But one aspect of TikTok that may be overlooked is its impact on the music industry.

When Montero Lamar Hill, known professionally as Lil Nas X, saw just how fast TikToks would go viral, he used the platform to advertise his now Grammy Award Winning, 14-times Platinum track “Old Town Road.”

Hill can credit the success of “Old Town Road” to the song becoming a meme on the app, which eventually translated to it being a smash hit on the charts. The tactic Hill used to get his song in circulation has become the blueprint for how countless artists use TikTok to catapult their music into circulation.

Unlike other platforms like Instagram and Twitter, TikTok’s algorithm searches for new videos rather than just simply promoting new videos from accounts that are already popular.

Lubbock sophomore Grace Hickle uses TikTok and said she is familiar with the impact it has on music.

“Most of the songs I listen to I find on TikTok,” Hickle said. “I feel like all the songs are so catchy because people pair them with a little dance that then goes viral and everyone is trying to recreate.”

According to the app, people have since made 718.6 thousand videos with “Old Town Road.” When people repost videos using a clip of an artist’s song, it acts as free advertising, placing the song on more user’s feeds, which circulates the song more.

Lakeway junior Kassidy Timmons said “Old Town Road” was popular before she started using TikTok, but she remembers hearing about how it got popular through the app.

“I was honestly really confused on how the app could make a specific song so popular,” Timmons said. “Now that I use TikTok, it makes perfect sense. A lot of songs that I hear on the app, I then go download on Apple Music and listen to on my own.”

The song’s success isn’t the only one that can attribute its popularity to TikTok. More recently, Olivia Rodrigo’s “driver’s license” became the fastest song to hit 200 million streams, after she debuted it on TikTok on Jan. 8. Thanks to a frenzy of drama surrounding the track, 1.3 million people have used her song to create their own videos, publicizing the song even more.

However, Southlake sophomore Joshua McSwain said he isn’t so sure about the rising popularity of these songs.

“’Driver’s license’ has been everywhere on social media and TikTok,” McSwain said. “It’s really hard to avoid. I would probably like it more if it wasn’t so overplayed, but I just don’t really understand the hype.”

Whether you like these catchy songs or not, odds are that you are familiar with them, which is exactly the goal of these artists. TikTok’s role in shaping the music industry has led to chart-toppers and new hits, and at the rate it’s going, it’s hard to say which one will be next.