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Hello, my name is David and I use Tik Tok in my mid twenties. It feels like a weight lifted to get it off my chest, because despite being one of millions, it's still embarrassing for some reason. I'm not sure what it is about Tik Tok that makes it such a swear word to people my age; maybe it's the cringy dances and the embarrassingly staged pranks, either way there's no denying our addiction. Like 14 year old me humming Bieber songs under my breath, I love to hate it, but I do hate how much I love it.
One thing that is undeniable about Tik Tok is its power grab on the music industry. It seems pretty inevitable really; any platform with that many frequent users is going to catch the eye of record labels and artists alike, but I'm not sure anyone predicted this.
Boney M's sudden surge back into the charts in the last couple of years is a prime example. Let's be honest, it wasn't even a great song when it came out, but thanks to its ability to be clipped, taken out of context and given new meaning in the form of short, bitesized videos their song about Rasputin was everywhere. It seemed that whenever I turned on the radio or looked at my phone I'd hear it. This song isn't the only one either, all it takes is one well known person to use a clip of a song, or a chorus to be used as the backing track to a new trend and artists can be fast tracked from virtually unknowns to stars.
Tik Tok's revolution of the music industry is starting to catch up to record labels too; Jack Harlow's snippet of his new song 'First Class' garnered the attention of the globe as people fell in love with the catchy hook before the song had even made it onto Spotify. I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that the day the song did come out I made it my personal priority to listen to it multiple times. Imagine dropping a song that's already loved and recognised globally? It seems that any marketing department or record label not bringing Tik Tok into the discussion when releasing new music is going to be left behind, fast.
What if it's not just about the roll out, what if it affects the music? OK so it's hardly a new thing for artists to incorporate catchy hooks, in fact ABBA had so many hooks they'd have put Anthony Joshua down quicker than Ruiz did. However in the past years we have started to see music maybe geared towards being more Tik Tok friendly. In fact some take no shame in doing so; Drake's 'Toosie Slide' was written with dance instructions in the hook and a music video of Drake perfecting the moves around his own home all with the hopes of kicking off the latest trend. Aside from those taking a more on the nose approach, I do tend to feel as I hear new music from artists these days you can sometimes sense a lurking thought from the recording studio about dances or clippability, but who can really blame them?
The good thing about Tik Tok is that it is about the people. There is no more honest critic than millions of people online and in some ways this helps level the playing field. Whilst some big name artists will always have an advantage getting their music out there, Tik Tok has a real gift for discovering new or obscure music. When you consider the format, all it takes is for one person to utilise part of a song, and if people like it they will also start to use it until eventually it's gained exposure to people who would have never heard it before. Even more so if a song manages to latch itself onto some sort of trend. Because of the way people flick through the content on the app, and because of the short nature of many of the trends and videos, it almost presents itself as a challenge to artists. How will you make your song grab the attention? It can be quite humbling, Drake's 'Toosie Slide' dance was far from a phenomenon, and to be honest had it not been Drake I don't think it would have gone far at all; meanwhile Boney M find themselves back on everyone's playlist. For new artists this should provide a lot of hope; if they can come up with something good enough to garner some Tik Tok attention, their song could go on to be a huge hit, in fact anyone can - especially considering the current earworm is Louis Theroux rapping on Chicken Shop Date.
I think as Tik Tok grows we will continue to see the music industry evolve around it. We are already seeing artists turning much more attention to getting exposure for their songs this way, and especially after the success Jack Harlow had you'd have to be an idiot to not try and use similar tactics for your own music. Even record labels who have been reluctant to change in the past can't ignore facts and figures, and Tik Tok is bound to become a huge part of what they do right from the way they discover artists to what kind of music they choose to release. The real question is not whether Tik Tok will change the industry, but more about whether we want it to. I guess my only worry is the quality of music we hear released. I don't want the charts to become reduced to a series of catchy, clippable, repetitive and made for Tik Tok tracks, but, as proven by Drake, this doesn't always work the way it's planned. If you look back over what's trended on Tik Tok over the years there's actually a really weird and wonderful range of all types of music, and this is what gives me hope that artists can continue to strive to make good songs in their own style. Tik Tok will do the rest.
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