TikTok helps niche groups become stars

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What is a way to succeed in the music industry?

Go viral.

It’s not an entirely new concept. It happened to justin bieber, which was discovered via his YouTube channel. It happened to Shawn Mendes, which first gained a following on Vine. Aspiring artists have been using social media to promote their music for years, but in the age of TikTok, with its myriad niches, grabbing attention is all too easy.

Most of what I write for the Michigan Daily is about the latest TikTok trends, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I spend far too many hours scrolling through my “For You” page. But the number of songs I have in my playlists that come from the app make up for the high screen time – just about anything can get stuck in my head, regardless of genre, lyrics or style. age.

One of the easiest ways to introduce your music to new fans is to compare its sound to artists already in the industry. That’s what rock band Seeing Double does, describing their sound as “Fleetwood Mac, ABBA and all the 70s vibes” and calling their debut single “Leah” a “Early 70s rock.” The band’s promotional strategy is simple: every day, they post a video of band members brushing their teeth while “Leah” plays in the background. While some listeners love the song’s Fleetwood Mac-esque style, others added to the video thread by posting their own tooth brush clips. These videos report regularly thousands of views and according to one of the band members, “Leah” just hit 10,000 streams. Even the simplest videos can make a big difference.

Some songs debuting on TikTok are perfect for the radio: they are lyrically simple, have a good hook and make you want to dance. The songs I usually hear circulating on my page, however, tend to have more complex messages. Take Maddie Zahm’s “Fat Funny Friend” which incited to tear but to validate body dysmorphia conversations in the comment sections. Or that of David Kushner “Mr. Forgettable,” released on March 4, written from the perspective of an Alzheimer’s patient. While several users have taken to the comments to express the pain they feel at being forgotten by family members, many others associate the song with their struggles with mental illness, especially across the line. “I’m sorry, it’s just the chemicals.” Songs with these kinds of vulnerable subject matter aren’t entirely unique, but it’s rare to see them gaining positive exposure in such large numbers.

TikTok niches even have the ability to make older songs go viral. Composer Cody Fry is out “I hear a symphony” in 2017, but in 2021 the song exploded on TikTok through trends like “I don’t have a favorite trope” leading Fry to join the app. Now the song is part of the Olympic Games, attracting even more positive attention. It’s not Fry’s only song to have success on the app – his song “Underground” has over 9,000 videos below, each with tens of thousands of likesand his arrangement of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” earned him a Grammy nomination. Alternative band The Walters released their song “I love you so much” in 2014 and had since broken up, but after the song’s TikTok-fueled resurgence across fan edits (among others), the group go home together last November.

In terms of success, the sky is the limit. Sara Kays was inspired by an unexpected text from an ex-boyfriend to write “Do you remember that night?”; a few months later, she performed the same song on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Lauren Spencer-Smith first burst onto the scene in 2020 as a American Idol contestantbut after teasing his single “Crossed fingers” on TikTok, the song quickly climbs to the top of the charts around the world and earned the singer-songwriter a deal with Island and Republic Records. Of course, social media success isn’t limited to breakout artists — even those who are already successful in the industry have seen their popularity surge thanks to TikTok. Charlie Puth walked viewers through the process of creating his latest single “Light switch,” and although the song was not officially released for months after, within hours it had hit #5 on the Apple Music charts and reached 100 million streams on Spotify.[[[[ For Doja Cat, nearly half of her 32 singles (and several others) trend on the app one way or another.

Globally, TikTok has one billion active users, making it the in seventh place social media platform. Nearly half of these billions are under 30, which means that new artists interact directly with an audience close to their age. Having a strong online presence and high engagement also proves to higher-ups in the music industry that you are marketable as an artist, which could increase your chances of landing a contract. Even though he technically fewer active users Whether Facebook or Instagram, TikTok separates itself from other social media apps thanks to its many dedicated sub-communities and the speed with which these users can extract something from obscurity and breathe new life into it.

It’s no exaggeration to say that TikTok now has a grip on the music industry – Sirius XM has an entire radio station dedicated to songs that take off on the app. While any song by any artist could explode at any time, if you’re trying to break into the industry, a simple video could change your life.

Hannah Carapellotti, daily arts writer, can be reached at [email protected]

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