Statistics from Wallaroo Media, updated in February 2021, say that TikTok is now available in over 150 countries, has over one billion users, and has been downloaded over 200 million times in the US alone. But it is not just the videos on TikTok that have boomed in popularity; if you want to discover new music as well as learn the latest lifehacks and laugh at comedy skits, TikTok is your one-stop-shop.

The audio that compliments TikTok videos, specifically dancing trends, is almost more memorable than the visual content The tunes stick in our heads after watching videos on a loop, as they gain thousands and sometimes even millions of views.

A-List stars on TikTok

World-famous musicians are using the app to promote their music. Following the release of their single ‘Sweet Melody’, the UK-based girl band Little Mix encouraged fans to post their own videos copying the choreography to the song after the band took the lead. The hashtag #SweetMelodyChallenge now has a huge 2.3 million views on TikTok, and it reached UK number one at the beginning of January.

Music artists, especially those with younger fan bases, are aware that their audience are avid TikTok users. You won’t find GenZ in the queue for music shops, waiting to buy a physical disk when a song is released. The best chance of influencing a younger audience to stream is to be active with promotion on socials, primarily TikTok, as it hosts countless audio tracks.

On TikTok – but not for TikTok

US-based musician, Cardi B, recently hit back at claims that said she is now writing songs with the sole ambition of starting viral dance trends on TikTok, following the release of her single ‘Up’ on Friday 5th February, which has attracted TikTok users to start a dance trend which is already growing rapidly on the app.

Another song featuring Cardi B, ‘WAP’, also swept the internet when it was released towards the end of 2020, creating a TikTok dance phenomenon where users were replicating the moves from the raunchy music video. Even composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, shared a ten-second TikTok video featuring the acapella version of ‘WAP’ which he replayed with the classical tune of ‘Phantom of the Opera’.

A frustrated Cardi B tweeted: “It wasn’t me who started the wap challenge. I didn’t even know how to do the dance, that’s why I never did the challenge in the first place. How ya mad that these female rappers songs becoming TikTok challenges because people genuinely want to dance to it.”

Although Cardi B claims that the intended purpose of her recent releases was not to create a viral TikTok craze, she is clearly doing something right. If you have a catchy melody or intriguing lyrics – you could be on to a winner in terms of a viral TikTok song. Popularity on TikTok equals more streams, and more streams equal a boost in the music charts.

Out with the new, back with the old

Not only are we seeing newly released songs grow in the music charts thanks to TikTok, but we are also seeing the resurgence of some old gems – particularly thanks to one man on his skateboard in August 2020.

TikTok user @420doggface208 posted a video of himself skateboarding while drinking a bottle of cranberry juice to the soundtrack of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 hit, Dreams. The video now has upwards of 79.6 million views and 12.6 million likes. Fleetwood Mac members Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood have even posted their own responses to the video, with Nicks saying: “This TikTok thing has, kind of, blown my mind”

Not only did the TikTok user, whose real name is Nathan Apodaca, gain popularity thanks to this video, but the Fleetwood Mac song featured made it back into the US charts – 43 years after its release. ‘Dreams’ stacked up 16.1 million US streams in the week ending 15th October 2020, according to Billboard, placing it at number 21 in the Billboard Hot 100 that week. This was the best streaming and sales week ever for the Fleetwood Mac track.

Up and coming musicians – use your influencer platforms

Knowing how quickly songs can blow up on TikTok could be key to those who are trying to break into the music industry. Influencer Yaz Caramanli, most active on Instagram and YouTube, has started her own TikTok music hashtag #YazMix, as she decides to veer more towards a career in music rather than producing social media content.

The aspiring musician, who has previously shared videos covering chart songs on her YouTube channel, has taken to TikTok as a marketing platform for her music content. Yaz’s hashtag feature #YazMix features her writing and singing her own verses for popular chart songs. Creating a unique trend inspired by songs that are popular on TikTok and in the charts increases the chances of a new audience discovering aspiring artists.

As well as the creation of unique TikTok music trends, we have also been met with a multitude of influencers who are taking on the role of musician, emerging off the back of their social media success. YouTuber Tana Mongeau, and her fellow YouTuber ex-husband, Jake Paul, are among the influencers who have released multiple tracks with streams in the multi-millions. Having a social media following, in this case, could be a guaranteed ticket into the music industry, especially if utilising the most popular platforms for promotion, namely TikTok.

The proof is in the numbers

At the end of 2020, TikTok analysed the use and growth of music on its platform, and they reported that: 176 different songs surpassed the one billion video view mark as TikTok sounds, with five of those reaching the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The UK official charts welcomed an even greater number of TikTok songs into its listings, with 10 of the trending songs reaching number one in 2020.

In the report, Paul Hourican, Head of Music Operations UK for TikTok, said: 2020 has been the year that music started on TikTok – driving music discovery and fan engagement for all artists, from emerging talent to global superstars. New artists have been given a big voice on our platform and established names have found new, authentic, and creative ways to engage with their fans.”

At the end of 2021, it will be interesting to look back at the year to see how music has continued to grow on TikTok, especially in relation to the charts. Perhaps artists will intentionally shape their music to fit the viral TikTok form and maybe we will see more influencers using their social platforms to launch a music career.

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