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TIKTOK: The New King of Music Promotion

The music business has remained one of the most controversial businesses in the world. It has often been argued back and forth that the most talented, creative, and hardworking musicians do not get to be the most commercially successful in terms of sales, shows, money and awards.

Canadian rapper Drake is currently the most commercially successful rapper in the world in terms of sales and streaming figures, meanwhile he is not anywhere close to being one of the most talented rappers of all time.


Many reasons can be sighted when an artist is placed above their peers. Some might attach the reasons to the input of record labels, effect of super managers, or aligning oneself to certain promoters. Others might claim that the nationality of the creatives matter, whilst genre of music is another important factor. The yardsticks can go on and on.

A constant factor that makes an enormous impact on every artiste’s career is promotion. Media tours, radio talks, street ads, posters, newspapers, flyers, concerts, performances, etc. were the common schemes for music promotion, till the emergence of social media. This automatically changed the game, as musicians and promoters figured out how to build an online fanbase via Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, and more recently, TikTok.


TikTok makes the promotion of music projects easy to control and analyse while maintaining room for feedbacks from a target audience. September 2016 witnessed the launch of Byte Dance’s Douyin in native China, the app was originally created to compete with musical.ly (a popular user-friendly app with lip-syncing and dancing videos).


TikTok gathered over 100 million users within a year of acquiring musical.ly, for a whooping sum of $800 million. It was evident that the sky was the limit for the social-media brand. In 2018, musical.ly and TikTok were officially merged, with users’ accounts being consolidated and brought under the umbrella name: TikTok.


This further catapulted the application to greater heights.
TikTok is the most user-interactive application available now. Aside from consuming and enjoying an immense amount of content from people all around the world, users can easily create an account for themselves and in the twinkle of an eye, begin to curate their own specific content.


Besides that, every random upload on TikTok has a chance to go viral. The app functions via swipe-based navigation which makes it extremely easy for users to swipe through and consume a heap of content within a noticeably short period of time.

Additionally, via Artificial Intelligence (AI), users are offered a niche algorithm based on the content they have previously interacted with. This means they can stay ahead of what’s new in the market by engaging with the creators that they love watching.


For new creators, the AI caters their content to a small group of sample users. Once it gets enough engagement, it is then displayed to a wider audience. In 2021 alone, over 175 songs that trended on TikTok debuted on the Billboard Hot 100, which was double the figure earned in 2020.



There is little possibility that this is mere coincidence or sheer luck- TikTok is increasingly influencing music promotion and listening globally. The app originally is a user-interactive app that provides people with the opportunity to not only create lip-syncing or dancing content (like musical.ly), but absolutely any type of niche specific content that users want.


This means that this app gives people the chance to share with the world what they feel they can do best. Music is a universal language, and the dialect or ethnicity of the music artist cannot pose a hindrance because users can do anything based on how they feel about the beat, the sounds, trends, or whatever mood they are in. Additionally, the videos often attract people from not only their own part of the world, but from all around it.


75% of TikTok users in the US claim that they have discovered new artists through their usage of TikTok, and 63% of users confirms that they hear up and coming music for the first time on the platform. This proves that the partnership between TikTok and the music industry is beneficial to both parties.


Further, 67% of TikTok users are more likely to check out the music that they hear from TikTok on their music streaming platform. This is a huge number that no other promotion scheme can provide for a musician in this day, and it is clear that a whole lot of them are making good use of this opportunity.


Recently many artists have been keying into the application as a major way of promoting and exposing their brand and art to a large audience that knows no bounds. According to the Agenda-setting theory of the media, Content is often thrusted into the faces of an audience to the extent where they feel the need to either discuss about it with friends, or ponder about it alone.



This is what TikTok is applying to real life. It hooks everyone and often tends to feel as though the app pushes varied content onto users to a point where lyrics from the songs circulates in their brains due to the constant content repetition on the app.


Soon, users begin using the same songs in their daily activities. They set up their phone cameras and a ring-light, and make videos of themselves showing off their dance steps from the comfort of their rooms.


TikTok won over a whole lot of people during the Covid lockdown, as it presented an avenue for everyone to show the world what they were doing in their homes amidst the pandemic. It sort of created another way to remain jolly, and provide updates on what everyone was doing differently in their various homes all around the world. It took people’s minds off the unfortunate circumstances the world was in, and helped maintain morale.


This phenomenon eclipsed beyond just music alone, as a whole lot of talents were showcased on a daily basis on the platform. From cooking, to dancing activities, to showing off sports skills, tech classes, life-hacks and health information being dished out, TikTok has become a general information market.

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