The impact TikTok had had on our listening habits

How TikTok has changed the music industry

The impact TikTok had had on our listening habits

Avatar Taylor Hastings

TikTok logo

Is TikTok changing the music industry?

TikTok has become a household name amongst Social Media platforms in recent years.

By the end of 2022, the app had reached a new peak of over 1 billion active monthly users, with its total user base reaching over 1.5 billion. Almost 40% of those users are young adults aged between 18-24. What started as a dancing app for kids exploded into something completely different. Companies and different industries have taken advantage of TikTok’s immense growing popularity and utilised it for quick advertising and marketing. The music industry and record labels are so exception. TikTok has drastically changed both the way we consume music and how artists chose to release it.

How has it changed the industry?

The music industry and the way we consume the medium has forever been changing. From cassettes and vinyl to digital downloads and streaming, TikTok has become new craze. Dance trends that have the ability to go viral and flat-out paying influencers with millions of followers have been the most popular methods artists and record labels have used to get the biggest hit in the market.

An excellent example of a song that blew up because of TikTok would be Lizzo’s About Damn Time. Upon release the song underperformed commercially, debuting at just #50 on the Billboard Hot 100. After a few weeks, a TikTok dance challenge was created which went viral and began rising on charts across the globe including in the US. It reached #1 on its 14th week. Meghan Trainor paid influencers such as Chris Olsen (who has almost 10M TikTok followers) to appear in videos with her and post his own content promoting her song Made You Look, which became Meghan’s first commercially successful single since 2016.


@lizzoY’all ready for met gala tea? ♬ About Damn Time – Lizzo

Who has benefitted from the change?

This just shows the power that TikTok has on modern music, and how beneficial it can be for artists. Artists that may have thought they were past their commercial peak can almost re-peak years later just as Meghan Trainor did. Not only does it benefit established performers, but it has also allowed new talent to breakthrough.

In 2021 GAYLE released her debut single abcdefu, which she created when a comment on one of her TikTok’s asked her to create a song using the letters of the alphabet. Once again due to TikTok, the track went viral with people using it in their videos. The song has since surpassed 900M Spotify streams and was nominated for Song of the Year at the Grammys. and kickstarted GAYLE’s career in which she will now open for Taylor Swift on her upcoming tour. TikTok has also allowed for older songs to go viral and reach new-found levels of commercial success. After being featured in season 4 of Netflix’s Stranger Things, Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)by Kate Bush blew up on the app and ended up being one of the

Negatively impacting the music industry

With good there is always bad nevertheless, and it’s obvious to say there have been many downfalls with TikTok becoming so popular. Employees of TikTok have come forward and stated that they can choose what goes viral. This can mean there could be a lack of authenticity to the content that blows up. As the songs that have been pushed by the app, it may feel like a very cheap way for a singer to get a hit single. The users on the app may just feel accustomed to listen to the songs that are being pushed as they have no way of choosing what they see on their For You Page. It may also feel as though the quality overall is declining. Artists choose to prioritise quick viral moments which often diminishes the quality of lyrics to create a dance trend.

Some artists have also complained in the past that their record label would not let them release new music unless they had got a viral moment on TikTok. In 2022 American Singer Halsey came forward and stated that her record label wouldn’t let her release her new single unless she faked a viral moment. Other artists that have complained about their record label forcing them to use TikTok include Florence Welch and FKA Twigs. Both in which don’t have a strong social media presence

@pagesix #Halsey ♬ original sound – Halsey

Is the industry change a good thing?

TikTok isn’t going anywhere any time soon as the platform continues to grow at an exceptional rate. It has changed the music industry forever, and it will keep on evolving. Overall, it’s safe to say that TikTok has benefitted the industry and the artists more than damaging. It has allowed for musicians to express themselves freely through a creative medium. Audiences now have to chance to discover new artists and delve into new music genres. This new era is incredibly exciting for creativity and the creation of music as a whole!

Taylor Hastings

My name is Taylor Hastings and I'm an Erasmus International student from Scotland on exchange at Abat Oliba CEU. I am currently in my 3rd year of university studying towards a Bachelors degree in Media & Communications.