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TikTok’s Impact on the Music Industry and Social Media

TikTok has been one the most popular social media platforms as of recently, with many people resorting to the app for a source of entertainment during a time of quarantine. With the myriad of content that is available, it is evident as to why they have become so popular. Although it started off as a successor to the popular lip-sync app, Musical.ly, it has evolved into something much more than that.

Not only is TikTok a reinvented platform for Musical.ly, but they offer many other videos to engage users such as short cooking videos, quick life hacks, or just snippets of funny videos from users. However, TikTok dances are the most popular, with creating itself to be its own classified genre of “TikTok dances.” TikTok dances are heavily popularized by top influencers on the app, which are many comprised of teenagers.

With the dances come the songs of course, and TikTok’s impact has led itself to become a strong role in establishing trends for music as.

TikTok and TikTok Dances

The trend of TikTok dances is what makes the platform so popular, similar to how Musical.ly was a platform to create quirky lip-syncing videos. TikTok dances are probably one of the most popular forms of content that are posted with the platform, with many users hoping to gain popularity from their dance videos to become “TikTok famous.”

This, in turn, creates popularity not only for certain dances as they are constantly being reposted from different users, but also for the music in itself as well.

One of the most evident examples of TikTok’s impact on music trends regards the popularization of the song “Lottery” by K Camp. It has been effectively called the “Renegade” dance, due to the word “renegade” being the main word that is repeated throughout the snippet of the song that is used in the dance.

People dancing on TikTok

The Renegade was created by a 14-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia named Jalaiah Harmon. It was the song that brought many different people into the TikTok trend through a fun and easy dance that was popularized by many large TikTok influencers, such as Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae. Both of these influencers have dozens of millions of followers, so the dance trend created by Jalaiah quickly rose in popularity, and practically almost everyone on TikTok was doing that dance.

The song “Lottery” also rose in popularity, mainly due to the fact that it was being known as “the renegade song.” Thus, the dances with the song become heavily associated with each other, further perpetuating the popularity of both the song and the dance. It seems to be a win-win situation for both the artists who are profiting off the TikTok popularity and the content creators who are gaining followers through performing such dances.

TikTok and the Music Industry

TikTok has popularized a category of their own songs as well, as TikTok’s impact is clear in regards to the music industry, creating “TikTok songs. For the most part, songs become popular on TikTok through small snippets, and because those snippets are the only part of the song that is heard, many people characterize that song with TikTok rather than the artist itself. However, due to a song’s popularity on the platform, many users will also want to engage with the original song as well.

Teens dancing on TikTok

This behavior is seen when looking at Doja Cat’s “Say So.” The song rocketed in popularity due to a dance trend that was created by TikTok user, “yodelinghaley,” whose real name is Haley Sharpe.  Her dance garnered much widespread popularity, so much so that you could not go a few minutes on the For You Page without seeing a video of someone’s rendition of the dance. In fact, the dance became so popular that Doja Cat incorporated the dance in some of her live performances and even invited Haley to do the dance for the “Say So” music video that was released in February of 2020.

Although Doja Cat was an already established artist before the song became widely popular, the TikTok trend really popularized her music. “Say So” is not the only song of hers that is used often on TikTok, as her song’s “Juicy” and “Boss Bitch.” Through TikTok, she was able to reach audiences that she would not have been able to reach before, as TikTok’s users embody many different demographics.

We can see the translation of music trends from popularity on the app to popularity on music charts. If you go onto Spotify’s Top Hits, most of the songs on there were popularized through TikTok… but how? How has Tiktok’s impact shape the current music industry and its climate in terms of what is popular?

TikTok is different from other social media platforms due to their library of songs. If someone is using a song that you like, it is easy to see what song it is by looking at the bottom of the screen to see what the sound is called. This is different from other social media apps because people may not credit the sounds or music that they are using, so it becomes incredibly difficult to find out what the song is.

sound library for tiktok sounds

[Image Source]

In the case of sounds, users are able to use other people’s sounds as well, sometimes deceiving the audience into thinking that the sound is their original one, but these lies can quickly be debunked if the user notices the actual sound source. So in the case of songs, this enables songs to be easily detected and shared across the platform, further building on to the idea that TikTok builds music trends.

Things on TikTok can not only go viral, but viral pretty quickly too. This is the power of TikTok’s impact and how the platform can push trends and creators into popularity. This is due to their unique algorithm that places specific content on each user’s For You Page, making it easy for anyone with few followers to reach large audiences. To read more about the algorithm and ways to crack it to potentially go viral on TikTok, you can read more about this topic here.

Thus, music trends are able to reach across large audiences in a short amount of time, with some sounds practically going viral overnight. Especially with the active posting from famous influencers, this drives popularity even faster with many of their fans hoping on the trend as well, so there is no wonder why the majority of the top hits on Spotify are popular due to TikTok exposure.


Why TikTok is Successful in the Music Industry

Tiktok has managed to become such a big player in the music industry. Google Trends has suggested that even when Musical.ly was at the peak of its popularity, it was not as nearly sought out after as TikTok is. However, TikTok has greater resources and an algorithm that encourages a lot of social mobility, increasing the chances of content going viral.

Another reason why TikTok is doing better than Musical.ly is also due to the content that is being produced on the platform. On Musical.ly, the platform was flooded with a bunch of lip-syncing videos that became old after a while. It was the same old content all the time. However, TikTok allows for many more possibilities, resulting in not only lip-syncing videos, but also dancing, comedy, and so much more.

It has become so much easier to become popular on TikTok, as opposed to other popular social media platforms such as Instagram, or even TikTok’s predecessor Musical.ly. Much of this is due to TikTok’s algorithm. In terms of the music industry, the algorithm is able to determine what sounds or songs are popular and push it onto its users. Users will eventually catch on and the song or sound will catch fire, spreading to all different edges of the platform.


TikTok and Social Media

Due to TikTok’s prominence in social media, a new type of social media star has emerged — The TikTok Influencer. These influencers are primarily made of teens that post content largely including TikTok dances and lip-syncing videos. Some of the most notable stars include Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae, as mentioned earlier. Charli D’Amelio is only 15 years old, but has amassed over 50 millions followers, often achieving another million followers in just a matter of days.

tiktok's impact - Charli d'amelio's tiktok page

Her videos have a total of over 3 billion likes altogether, which really helps to establish her popularity as one of the biggest TikTok users on the app. Her sudden popularity has not only surprised her, but many users as well. This new wave of TikTokers has been featured in the mass media lately, especially due to the content that they produce, which largely involve dancing to popular songs in front of an iPhone camera.

These influencers may not be promoting a particular product in the ways that most traditional influencers do, nor do they really do anything outside of TikTok. Most of these popular TikTokers are teenagers, so they may be in school, but are not really pursuing anything outside producing content for the app to keep their brand and reputation. However, they still are able to set trends purely because of their large following. Many users on TikTok are quite young, ranging between the ages of 13-18 years old, and popular TikTokers fall into this age range, promoting a sense of relatability.

Because these young users see these famous TikTokers and aspire to also reach that fame in notoriety, which is why they are so engaged in the same content that these TikTokers reproduce. Younger users are more susceptible to media effects and will continue to follow these TikTokers in hopes of also becoming like them one day.

image of hype house TikTokers

Image source: instagram.com

TikTokers have become a new, different type of social media influencer, one that revolves around repeating the same dance trend over and over, yet still having each post do well in terms of user engagement and reach. Perhaps they were favored by the algorithm, or maybe they just were lucky enough to garner that much attention, but nonetheless they have made a name for themselves in the social media industry.


TikTok and Trends

In addition to not only creating a new type of influencer, TikTok has definitely been a leader in trends, whether that be music or food trends. Because of TikTok’s algorithm and the way that they push certain videos out to their viewers, trends easily show up and occur. It is not uncommon to hear someone say, “I saw this new trend on TikTok,” because it seems to be one of the main ways that trends are disseminating out into the public.

In this sense, it is easy to market a product on TikTok due to the fact that it has a potential to reach a larger audience. When people are able to take advantage of the algorithm, they can potentially go viral as TikTok favors certain things in a post, more of which that you can read further here.

When someone sees something that they find particularly interesting or helpful, they will then try it out themselves to see if it is a credible source of information. Once that is, they will talk highly of that trend and spread the word on TikTok where many other people are able to hear about the opinions of the trend as well.  Thus, TikTok’s impact spreads across not only music, but also through my facets of social media trends.

This method of word-of-mouth is not a new concept – word-of-mouth is how messages are spread and can be an effective means of communication. However, due to its platform and the engagement that they have with their users, trends get out very quickly. This is especially common when a product on TikTok becomes really popular and everyone buys it because everyone else on TikTok seems to be talking about it. Again, this is not a new concept, but Tiktok’s platform greatly facilitates this sharing of information for such trends to start.

This has become evident, especially in dancing and music trends as mentioned earlier due to the engagement that TikTok has with its users. TikTok curates the For You Page based on interest and previous activity on TikTok to give users content based on what the algorithm thinks that they like. This encourages users to keep scrolling on that page, eventually going through a rabbit hole as users can sometimes find themselves scrolling for hours to find more likeable content. This further facilitates an effective environment in which trends can start and grow to become viral.



Despite what many people may think about the app, TikTok has become an increasingly large and popular platform with different types of media content to enjoy. It provides a pleasurable viewing experience due to its algorithm and the app’s ability to curate content for every user, which further promotes user engagement and creates an environment in which content can go viral.

With this, comes many trends that have started from TikTok, the most notable being dance and media trends. TikTok has not only become a platform to help popularize music, but to also bring awareness to smaller artists as well and build their popularity. Many names on the Spotify Top Hits playlist may sound unfamiliar because they are not from big artists, but once an avid TikTok user hears it, they will know the song almost immediately.

The power of TikTok’s impact should not be underestimated. When used strategically, it can really be a great resource to spread trends and reach wide audiences that traditional marketing tactics cannot.


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