How TikTok Is Changing The Music Scene For Artists

by Boaz Feldman

TikTok is here to stay, and musicians and record labels alike are flocking to it.
The widely-popular social media app has helped rising stars explode onto the music scene, like when Little Nas X’s single “Old Town Road” took off on TikTok in early 2019.
Now many budding artists are hoping to be the next viral sensation.With TikTok now officially across the one billion users milestone, it is a ripe market for promoting artists big and small.
And while new changes to the platform are creating exciting opportunities for musicians on TikTok, the app is also becoming a battleground for big brands.

New Monetization Opens Doors For Artists

A recent addition to TikTok is LIVE subscriptions. Launched May 26th, TikTok users can now subscribe to their favorite creators for a recurring fee, which the creators get a cut of.

For musicians who perform live on TikTok rather than in-person, LIVE subscriptions can be a reliable income stream from fans who want to show support.
TikTok is also extending their limit on video length to 10 minutes, allowing for more easily monetized content via ad revenue.
The app has struggled to convert its popularity into cold-hard cash with ad revenue because of how short many TikTok videos are.

Free-to-use platforms like TikTok can be a godsend for small artists looking to promote their music, rather than having to pay for services like Apple Music For Artists just to be paid pennies. These new options may be enough of an increase in monetization to allow smaller TikTok artists to focus on doing music as a career instead of a hobby. 

Record Labels Desperate To Go Viral

Even as the platform makes producing new trending TikTok songs a viable career for musicians, big record labels are using the app to market their artists, sometimes by being underhanded.

Indie artist Halsey published a TikTok video where she states, “i have a song that i love that i wanna release ASAP but my record label won’t let me.

”The Grammy Award-winning artist continues, “my record company is saying that i can’t release it unless they can fake a viral moment on tiktok.
” Some have even theorized that something like Halsey’s video was itself her record label trying to create an online sensation.

James Shotwell pointed out on his podcast Music Biz, “If you knew that there were artists going viral on TikTok because they were complaining about how their labels made them make TikToks, you would, theoretically, also make a TikTok about how your label makes you make TikToks in hopes of hopping on that trend.

”Many big-name artists like Ed Sheeran, Megan Thee Stallion, and Florence Welch have also fought back against being pushed to create content for TikTok.
While TikTok is creating new opportunities for artists, it is also leaving some caught in the tide of viral marketing.