TikTok has greater influence over pop culture trends than any other social media platform to ever exist. It’s like the Jeff Bezos of pop culture trends, music, fashion, and memes. Through its unique algorithm and insane turnaround for trending audios, TikTok is the perfect platform to become viral overnight – and this holds true for celebrities, as well. Any TikTok user can tell you that top 40 radio stations just play songs trending on Tiktok.
Doja Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, Jack Harlow, Rico Nasty, and Lil Nas X are fantastic examples of artists having their careers explode thanks to TikTok’s influence. Some already have a provincial fanbase, but TikTok’s 100 million followers in the U.S. are a large contributor to artist successes.
Doja Cat’s music led to several different dance trends, as well as an explosive new album, thanks to new listeners she gained through TikTok and, consequently, her radio listeners. Lil Nas X has also had a fantastic career so far in using his own music for all his viral TikToks. The talented Rico Nasty, St. Olaf’s 2021 MEC Spring Concert performer, has also experienced exponential success from her music. We are still experiencing the power TikTok holds over music popularity as radio stations still play Benee’s “Supalonely,” which became popular on the app during the March 2020 quarantine.
TikTok also reintroduces older artists and tracks to young audiences who had not yet heard them. A prime example is the re-charting of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” in 2020, after the audio was used in a viral trend on TikTok – receiving millions of likes. More and more older bands found themselves receiving royalty checks from TikTok because of the nature of these trends. This also happened to OMC’s hit “How Bizarre,” which was released in 1995 and received a royalty check in 2020 because a viral trend used their song. TikTok does not just delegate the next top hits, but it can also return old tracks to the spotlight.
While TikTok is responsible for the popularity of music, it can also be detrimental to an artist’s career. Since the app is so popular, and ideas spread at a breakneck pace, the “cancelling” of an artist can eliminate a fanbase overnight.
Older generations have experienced the same phenomenon, though not particularly to the same degree, with TV stations like MTV, which aired up and coming music videos to rocket songs up the charts.
As technology and the cultural penetration of the internet have advanced, TikTok has become the face of popular culture. The driving force Tiktok has behind popular music is undeniable. For now, TikTok’s in charge.