Is TikTok the Golden Goose of Music?

Songs from unknown artists now in the spotlight behind TikTokers’ lip-syncing


Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

Music may be the star behind most TikTok sensations, but what exactly has TikTok done for the music industry and society as a whole?

TikTok is the unwanted gift that keeps on giving. Never seeming to die out,  the memes, the cringe, the 50+-year-olds using it as a dating site, and the e-girls and e-boys continue to thrive. There is never a glimpse of shame from these TikTokers, but all of these TikTok sensations have one thing in common: music. Music is the star of TikTok. Now, what exactly has TikTok done for the society as a whole and the music industry?

There is no doubt that TikTok has overused many songs to the point of cringiness.Womp Womp by Valee (Feat. Jeremih),” “Ponyo On The Cliff By the Sea,” “Noah Cyrus and Frankie Jonas,” and Old Town Road by Lil Nas and featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. All of these songs were so overused by the e-boys, memers, and nine-year-olds that most people lost interest in the songs themselves. The phrase “it’s so popular I don’t even like it anymore” can be used over and over by music gurus. Many people on YouTube and other social media platforms have expressed their feelings of disgust. “Thanks, TikTok you’ve ruined another great song” commented ChickenNugget29. “I will never be able to get the picture of an e-boy biting his lip trying to seduce his phone,” quoted Therealestboi. “Ricardo did not die for this” according toNie Coop3r. It seems that music lovers are not a fan of TikTok lovers. However, music might love TikTok…

Musically was the most popular app in the U.S in 2016-2017 according to RollingStone’s article “How TikTok Took Over Music,” but because Musically was mostly in the U.S., it never gained worldwide popularity. TikTok was created and launched in 2017, the same year Musically died, and it gained far more popularity as Musically kids moved onto this platform and kept on doing their thing. With a new year, new music came into play as well. Songs from artists people have never heard of are now in the spotlight behind TikTokers’ lip-syncing. Musicians such as Supa Dupa Humble gained mass popularity from the app, as was reported by Time Magazine in their article “TIME:  TikTok Is Turning New Artists Into Viral Sensations. But Who Actually Benefits?”   

People flew to his YouTube account and posted positive comments saying things like: “From Tik Tok but your music is actually good” and “Who else came from Tik Tok? This is fire!” 

The song “Steppin’” had become the musical background for multiple Tik Tok memes, and it gained far more appreciation because of this. When interviewed by Time, TikTok’s director of music content and artist relations Mary Rahmani had this to say: “TikTok empowers artists by being an avenue for visual output and creativity.”  TikTok, music artists and memes seem to have a great relationship. It’s a formulated process: a song is used in a TikTok video, said video becomes a popular meme and is shared to various social media apps, and floods of people go to the origin of the song from the meme and find the artist. It’s the circle of meme music.

Although Tik Tok is notorious for the cringe and memes, it’s still undetermined what it is doing to a multitude of musicians. I think we can all agree that things have been accomplished (good and bad) through these memes and cringy teens on lip sync apps.