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good 4 u TikTok

What effect is TikTok having on the music industry? Social Media Director, Shaunni Howard, explores the artists who are taking over the platform, one audio bite at a time.


Shaunni Howard

1 Aug 2021

How many times in the last year have you been listening to the radio in the car and your brain has gone “Hey! It’s that TikTok song!” You’re certainly not alone.

You might originally know TikTok for its dance routines or viral transitions, but it’s undeniable how much the app is now contributing to the rapid distribution of music and the ability for users to discover new (and old) music with a swipe of their thumb. That’s exactly why playlists like “TikTok Viral Hits” have been cropping up on Spotify, as users pull together their favourite tunes from the platform.

Back when TikTok first launched, you would come across viral videos using top 20 chart hits - songs that are already popular and well-established within the mainstream. Nowadays the opposite is true; songs that blow up on TikTok inform the charts. For artists - independent or superstars - trending audio massively helps brand awareness.

Olivia Rodrigo
TikTok’s algorithm thrives on fresh and trending content. If a large creator uses an audio, there’s a snowball effect with others rushing to use it before it goes viral - which in turn makes it viral. The success artists see from trending music on TikTok is due to the repetition of trends - once you’ve heard the soundbite enough, you’re likely to go out and search it on another platform such as Spotify, Amazon Music or YouTube.

A great example of this is Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Drivers License’ after the platform’s most followed user, Charli D’Amelio, used it. The song absolutely blew up, currently being used in over 1.7 million unique TikToks.

Olivia, who was relatively unknown at that point, has gone on to amass over 8.1M followers on the platform and a whole catalogue of chart songs such as “Deja Vu”, “Good 4 U” and “Brutal” have all been fuelled by TikTok trends thereafter.

Doja Cat
One of the first times we saw this success on TikTok was Doja Cat’s “Say So.” This song was released as a single following its success on TikTok as a viral dance trend, with celebrities like Gordon Ramsey joining in.

Given TikTok’s role in making the song a success, she even included the dance and the TikToker who made it go viral in the track’s official music video as a nod to the platform.

Fleetwood Mac
Remember the guy (Nathan Apodaca, otherwise known as TikTok user @420doggface208) who went viral overnight for his ‘good vibes’ whilst skateboarding, drinking a big carton of Ocean Spray cranberry juice and listening to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’?

This song was released all the way back in 1977, but because of the virality of this TikTok, the song surged in popularity with a new generation and re-entered the charts across the world. All through the power of TikTok!

TikTok isn’t only changing how we consume music, but it’s also heavily influencing how artists produce music.

Why wouldn’t they want that viral moment that helps propel them up the chart?

So it’s no accident that a lot of new songs can now easily be cut down into those shorter, easily digestible sound bites, or that the lyrics have the potential for a perfect transition.

Using Trending Audio as a Brand
All these audio based trends are super exciting right?! Until you get that blue tick and suddenly an overwhelming number of them aren’t licensed for commercial use - uh oh.

Unfortunately short of purchasing rights to upload the song yourself (which would separate it from the bulk of trending audio anyway), there isn’t much you can do as a brand here.

However, a handy tip to show that you’re up to date with the biggest trends is to reference the trending lyrics and trend-format in your copy, alongside your original content. Alternatively, you could collaborate with a creator to produce content on their profile instead.

So, to summarise:

  1. Trending audios drive the trends and patterns we see on TikTok

  2. TikTok is having a huge influence on the music industry

  3. TikTok is a key platform for artist’s marketing strategies

  4. Brands should be aware of trending audio bites, even if they can’t join in