In the time of TikTok: How one app is influencing the music industry through viral videos
A look at the Chinese video-sharing social networking service TikTok, and how through a series of viral videos and memes, it has taken over and influenced Spotify streaming numbers and Billboard chart results. Instructions on how to do the Say So dance not included.
By now you’ve surely heard of the viral video sharing app TikTok, the app that scares the Baby Boomers away, intrigues the somehow out-of-date millennials and is absolutely adored by Gen Z, or as they are more appropriately called, Zoomers.
Videos range from everything under the sun, including lip syncs to popular television moments and songs, cute puppies, weekly challenges and original comedic content that is undeniably chuckle-worthy, no matter what your age is.
That is the special thing about the app – it isn’t just for the youngins. People of all ages, races and sexualities can fully explore their identities on the app, and in turn can find similar people to share their content with via the apps somewhat scary algorithms that display content aligned with your interests on the ‘For You’ page.
The most popular trend that arises on the app every week however is making memes and viral dances from music sound clips. The more that get made, the more people get inspired, and the thus the sharing train continues on and on.
This ultimately also leads to people also wanting to know the original song used in the TikTok, creating an unnatural increase in streams and listens on the track, no matter how old or new it may be.
How songs on TikTok have taken over the charts
Let’s look at some of these tracks that have taken over the charts thanks to help of TikTok, including one from Australia – just how did they do it, and why are all the teens singing “if I back it up, is it fast enough?”
Cookiee Kawaii – ‘Vibe’: TikTok challenge
A spokesperson from TikTok shared the following in response to songs topping the charts thanks to their app:
“We are excited to be working with many artists and labels to build long-term relationships as their promotional partner. We always encourage artists to lean into the app, create videos using their trending track, and participate in the fun of what’s making it go viral on TikTok.
“For artists, it is fun when they share their favourite TikTok discoveries and tag the creator so they can repost and give credit. In addition, artists can also create duets to creators’ content using our duet feature. Here is a great example from Charlie Puth.”
In the example provided by the TikTok team, you can learn a bit about the fundamental basis on which TikTok thrives. An individual, maybe even an artist, shares a video onto the app. Simple enough as a first step.
Now, using that sound from the original video, you can make whatever you want. It could be a joke video, a dance, or footage of you and your dog being cute as hell. The options are only limited by your own creativity.
Charlie Puth’s video linked above went viral after users of the app were trying to one-up each other with their own lyrics to the provided beat, even though the artist was just innocently looking for some fan feedback. Thus is the power of TikTok – if you provide the masses with a tool, they’ll build an entire city.
One such tool that took over the world was the ‘Renegade Dance Challenge’, which ultimately lead to the backing track, K CAMP’s song ‘Lottery’, topping the charts all over the globe, including right here in Australia.
‘Renegade Dance Challenge’ on TikTok
K CAMP’s ‘Lottery’ has had over 33 million videos made on TikTok using the song, which ultimately lead to 86 million streams on Spotify. Videos using the song range from unique challenges to the all too popular Renegade dance, which has become the poster child for TikTok dance challenges.
MDDN (K CAMP’S label) senior manager Naveed Hassan commented on the rise of the tracks popularity thanks to sharing on the (at the time) brand new social media app:
“From what we understand, a few folks on TikTok started to do it. Charli D’Amelio [TikTok star with close to 30m followers] did it. This was coinciding with the rise of TikTok and it just boiled over,” says Hassan.
One fun fact about the popularity of the song is that despite the efforts to push for the track’s hook to gain traction online, the TikTok dance challenge only used the first few seconds of the song, which is all beat.
“Reazy Renegade is the producer, so this tag of ‘Renegade’ led into it becoming known as the Renegade Dance or Lottery Challenge. It went viral on TikTok and, before we knew it, Lizzo was doing a video to the song. The streams on DSPs were still going up,” he says.
“Even months after release, every week we would see a new peak in the song, which is pretty incredible. It continues to grow. It’s been an interesting ride.”
Other such successes have been seen with tracks like ‘Vibe’ by Cookiee Kawaii, ‘The Box’ by Roddy Ricch and of course ‘Say So’ by Doja Cat, both in its remixed and unremixed forms.
Doja Cat – ‘Say So’: TikTok challenge
One of the most incredible successes that we should all be aware of is Australian artist Sam Fischer, whose song ‘This City’ elevated itself to massive success on the charts thanks to a slew of viral TikTok videos using the song as a backing sound.
Thanks to a boost from the app, this track has reached over 100 million streams on Spotify, spending five weeks in the Top 40 of the Singles charts as of the time of this article.
With over 1.7 million videos made worldwide on TikTok using ‘This City’ as its audio, Sam Fischer has been able to enjoy unprecedented success. And thanks to the nature of his song, creators aren’t being limited to just dance challenges or memes.
Altogether, Fischer has received over one billion views thanks to his audio, which is an achievement never before made by an Aussie artist on the app.
The New South Welshman relocated to Los Angeles close to six years ago, and currently has a slew of writing gigs under his belt for the likes of Demi Lovato, Keith Urban and Jessie J, and just before isolation kicked in, he was also slated to be the opener for One Direction’s Niall Horan as he toured the globe.
Sam Fischer on The Late Late Show with James Corden
It goes without saying that Fischer is but one success story from the app, as so many other artists enjoy chart success thanks to the viral nature of the video sharing services the media site provides.
This is the first time an app has had such incredible influence over the charts. As of now, ‘Say So Remix’ and ‘Savage Remix’ top the charts, with both songs having an insane amount of TikTok videos associated with them. This is an incredible achievement for four artists in the prime of their careers, and it was all done with just a little help from the virality and sensationalism of our good friend TikTok.
Honestly, who knows what’s next for the app – where it’s going or who will be elevated to mass amounts of fame next thanks to the brand new platform, all I know for certain is that once I nail the next dance challenge during isolation, it’s over for everyone. 80 million views here I come.
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.