From Streams to Likes: TikTok’s Impact on Music

Derrick Harris, Arts & Culture Writer

Recently, many artists have risen to fame by posting their music to TikTok and purposefully making catchy songs to gain streams. This method of promotion has garnered mixed opinions, with some people saying it is a good way for unknown artists to get discovered and others saying it compromises the singer’s artistry.

An example of a non fabricated viral moment is shown through Gayle’s hit song, “abcdefu.” After she teased “abcdefu,” the song blew up and transformed her career. She has quickly obtained an impressive amount of opportunities for her music career that most other artists rarely achieve, such as opening for Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour.

After seeing her success, many record labels have tried to fabricate a viral song or sound to obtain this success for their signed artists. However, creating a viral TikTok song is a very unpredictable and incalculable process because it depends on the current trends on the app. Even after having a viral post, consistency in streams and longevity is not guaranteed, which can quickly lead to the end of an artist’s career. This scenario, of course, relies on the artist going viral in the first place — because an artist could post a snippet for their new single and gain no traction at all.

However, it seems many artists’ careers are now dependent on this unreliable marketing method. For example, famous A-lister musician Halsey recently said in a TikTok that her record label wouldn’t let her release a song until she could fake a viral moment on TikTok. Her label wanted her to have a non authentic moment to gain attention to the song so that it could perform well if released. Although very restrictive most times streams are all that matters and ensuring a song performs well is not an unreasonable thing to want.

Halsey making such a statement is not a new occurrence; many artists including FKA Twigs and Charli XCX have said similar things. After smaller artists saw Halsey’s statement, however, there was a lot of backlash.

Singer-songwriter Bronze Avery put it best in a Rolling Stone article.

“All independent artists hear is ‘Put your songs on TikTok . . . and one day you’ll be big like Halsey.’ But if Halsey has to do it too, then what’s really the goal?”