Times have drastically changed for the music industry as things progress into an era where anyone can become an overnight sensation and “go viral.”
As an artist in this day and age, it can be easier to find success in mainstream media now that we have social media platforms that range from Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and now, most recently, TikTok.
Unfortunately with the use of these platforms comes the greed from record labels that find codependency with these same social outlets.
TikTok is currently one of the most popular social media apps at the moment. It originated as an app called ‘Musical.ly,’ which was created to allow creators to make 15-second videos that consisted of people lip-syncing or dancing to top hits.
The app now has over a billion users and millions of videos that constantly get uploaded every day to the platform.
For certain artists, TikTok can be an extremely useful tool to help them reach a wider audience and possibly even catch the eyes of major labels while solidifying their spot on the Billboard charts. For independent artists, this is an effective alternative to gain plays and recognition compared to traditional radio.
“I think Tik Tok is good for exposure and a way for artists to be more creative,” said Brandon Leslie, a Long Island local rapper out of Medford.
StaySolidRocky is a prime example of how an independent artist can rise to stardom. When the Virginia rapper initially released his song “Party Girl” to the public it failed to reach the charts; but with due time, and the help of TikTokker @ansleysparkmann who choreographed a dance for the song, it quickly gained traction, making its way to Number 84 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Although TikTok has helped many artists, it has also tainted the way record labels use the platform. It is becoming a requirement for established acts to use TikTok in the same way the up-and-coming artist does.
Many artists have spoken out about how their own record label restricts them to release music unless their song goes viral on TikTok first. Halsey, an American pop star, is one of the most recent artists to come forward about this matter making.
“Basically, I have a song that I love that I want to release ASAP, but my record label won’t let me,” the singer captioned in their TikTok.
“I’ve been in this industry for eight years and I’ve sold over 165 million records and my record company is saying I can’t release it unless they can fake a viral moment on TikTok.”
Artists such as Tokio Hotel, Florence and the Machine, and Bishop Briggs are among the others who have come forward about being forced to use the app by these means.
“Your hands are essentially forced to use TikTok as a platform considering the obvious benefits: your track enters a database for anyone to use, the content can be short and sweet, and it’s a top used app. Reasons like that are why it’s such a necessary choice for modern business tactics.” said James Ferrara, Centereach resident and lead singer of the band Kid Judo
Not all artists view this as a negative tactic, A1 Da Sauce Kid, a new rapper and Stony Brook University graduate, views the app as essential for record labels to use. “Whether you are signed or independent you are going to have to use social media or you are already at a disadvantage and it is the best source to blow up right now if you know how to use it.”
For better or for worse, TikTok just has a grasp on the music industry. However, it should be up to the artist to decide how and when to utilize it.