TikTok’s latest music success accused of being an ‘industry plant’
GAYLE’s viral TikTok hit ‘abcdefu’ is officially the “biggest song in the world,” according to Billboard.
The track has hit No. 1 on both the Billboard Global 200 and Billboard Global Excl. U.S. charts (dated Jan. 15). It is currently sitting at No. 3 for its seventh week on the ARIA Top 50 Singles chart.
Billboard reported GAYLE’s ‘abcdefu’ rocketed from No. 5 to No. 1 on the Billboard Global 200 with 58.8 million streams (up 2 per cent) and 16,800 sold (down 2 per cent) worldwide from December 31st until January 6th.
The surge is partially attributed to the multiple versions released: there are “angrier,” “chill” and “nicer” (i.e. radio-friendly) versions, a demo version, a remix with Royal & the Serpent, and ‘The Wild Mix,’ released on December 31st.
Crucially though, the track has gone viral on TikTok, with over two million videos featuring the song.
Many TikTok users believe GAYLE wrote the track in response to a fan’s comment asking her to “write a breakup song using the alphabet”:
Reply to @nancy_berman definitely not based off personal experience… #orginalsong #newmusic #plslikethisaccount #hastagsworkapparently #acoustic
But TikTok user @danielswall believes he has “exposed” the “truth” pointing out that although the song did blow up because of the social media platform, it was not created there.
“If we look at the comment we see this account name (nancy_berman) and if we go to this account we’ll see it’s private,” Wall says.
“But if we look her up on Google we see her on LinkedIn. In fact, we see her as a Digital Marketing Manager at Atlantic Records.”
Reply to @.daltonisdaddy Did You Know That You Were Lied to About This Song? #singer #songwriter #singersongwriter #abcdefu #learnsomethingnew #marketing #musicmarketing #music #recordlabel #artistsoftiktok #visionboard #musicproducer #entrepreneur #tiktokers #viral #trending
According to Berman’s LinkedIn bio, she has been a Digital Marketing Manager at Atlantic since October 2021, previously working as Coordinator of Pop/Rock Digital Marketing Operations from March 2020.
GAYLE signed with Atlantic in May 2020.
Her viral “response” video was posted in July 2021.
Of course, GAYLE wouldn’t be the first example of a successful “industry plant”, and she won’t be the last.
Lorde was called an industry plant when fans realised she had already signed to Universal Music Group when her The Love Club EP was released for free on SoundCloud. After it was downloaded over 60,000 times record execs felt confident pushing ahead with an official release.
Lorde’s song ‘Royals’ went on to surpass one billion streams.
There are plenty of examples of unsuccessful “plants” – as recently as last year, all-girl pop-punk trio Tramp Stamps were called out for their “polished” aesthetic and marketing materials.
TikTok user @cult_sounds analysed Tramp Stamps’ account in a viral video, saying: “It’s almost like it’s a bunch of people who were like, theatre majors and shit who had rich parents and now they’re co-opting riot grrrl aesthetics that people literally dedicate their lives to for money.”
American artist Chelsea Cutler recently addressed the “confusing” music industry and the “massive disconnect between listeners and artists” thanks to platforms like TikTok via an Instagram post.
“Even as a consumer of music, I hear so many songs nowadays, particularly through TikTok, but something is missing,” she wrote.
“In the last year I’ve only discovered a handful of artists I feel connected to and passionate about. Albums and comprehensive storytelling seem less relevant as attention spans are shorter.”
Describing the difficulty she had had “adapting to the way the industry landscape had changed” in the last year or so, Cutler said she didn’t know how to keep up with “insatiable” content culture.
“It feels exhausting to be constantly thinking of how to turn my daily life into “content” especially knowing that I feel best mentally when I spend less time on my phone,” she posted. “It also feels exhausting to be told by everyone in the industry that this is the only effective way to market music right now.”
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.