How TikTok is Changing

the Music Industry

By LINH NGUYEN | March 15, 2020

Cover photo by Arizona Zernas 

I can not live without my phone. On my way to university, back at home, on the bus – it’s always by my side. Naturally, I have collected a number of apps on my phone which keep me occupied at all times. One app in particular captures my attention more than the others: TikTok. 

There are two simple reasons for my new obsession, fun dances and short snippets of catchy songs. Needless to say, this combination of dance and sound has allowed TikTok to gain significant influence within the music industry. To give you an example, allow me to introduce you to a song that only went viral thanks to a feature video on the app: Say So by Doja Cat. 

Say So is the 5th track on Doja Cat’s 2019 album Hot Pink. Competing against hits such as Juicy (ft. Tyga), Cyber Sex and Bottom Bitch, Say So initially did not receive much attention from a wider audience. Only when TikTok user @yodelinghaley made a chain of videos featuring an original choreography to the song, Say So blew up. It became Doja Cat’s first song to hit Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. With a whopping 2.4 million TikTok videos now featuring Say So, it is understandable to see why the song remains on top of the charts. 

With that, what makes a song ‘TikTok famous’ highly depends on how popular the dance accompanying the song turns out to be. Dance routines are played out to a selected part of the song and overtime this very routine is what makes the one-minute long sequence so memorable. In the official Say So music video, Doja Cat even performed a modified version of the TikTok routine in order to pay homage to @yodelinghaley who helped the song go viral. With this dynamic, I wonder whether the fame should be attributed to the artist or to the TikTok user who came up with the dance? 

In keeping with this trend, TikTok has shown the ability to significantly impact the music industry by redirecting the connection between the artist and his/her viewers through the app. Do not get me wrong, Doja Cat is a favorite of mine and in no way is this article attempting to denounce any of the artists’ hard. I simply hope that these artists, who owe some of their success to TikTok, will be appreciated in ways that extend beyond a one-minute video sequence on a mobile app.

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