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TIK TOK AND MUSIC PROMO: Problematic with Potential

When you listen to your playlists as of late, do you find yourself playing “TikTok” music? 

As the collaborative audiovisual media outlet provides comforting entertainment, many of its audios have brought publicity to underground songs and artists. This can be seen as a grand opportunity for artists to get well deserved recognition on the surface level, but it may be doing more harm than good.

The platform’s rapid pace allows for a quick service mentality. Operating like a drive-through for your brain, with an exchange of minimal effort for maximum satisfaction. It can be easy and almost automatic to lose yourself for hours, scrolling through all the angles that the app’s creators have to offer. According to Shopify.com, “TikTok marketing is the process of promoting a brand, products and or services to consumers on TikTok. Common TikTok marketing strategies include the creation of trend-driven organic content, using popular hashtags, and incorporating TikTok influencers into promotional campaigns.” 

In addition, TikTok’s algorithms allow for others to reach their demographic faster, and the amount of reach being expanded. On a “For You Page” users are exposed to random creators and content curated just for them, which builds a fast link. This can work almost like an incognito ad, but without payment. The only form of currency necessary is the attention of others, which makes it a gold mine for advertisement. 

TikTok also cranks out trends at a rapid pace, and so a wildly successful way of gaining traction on a song is attaching it to a certain trend. Because of the widespread usage of the app and its fine tuned personable algorithms, many of these movements circulate within sub cultures existing on the app. Waves of people hop on board to whatever the moment brings, and maybe the pressure of feeling that they have to keep up with the subculture they’ve fallen into further lures them into specific music, styles and products. 

These two things make for a perfect foundation for artists seeking exposure. And they can view, and even partake in, the testimonies of others who have found success through these means (ex: Leith Ross, Steve Lacey, JVKE, ect). Seeing these artists blow up in such a short period of time, after such long waiting, sparks hope in those who have been chasing their goals for equally long periods.

Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit” has compiled over a million videos through TikTok audios


The catch with this process is that TikTok produces trends at a breathtakingly fast rate, which also causes songs and artists to fade in and out of relevancy, as if we were only passing them as ordinary people down the street. For example, some of us may remember Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” and its great resurfacing on the app. Now it’s been drowned out by new sounds and feels ancient, but it was merely six months ago that the streaming explosion happened.

Singer/ Songwriter Chelsea Cutler disclosed her feelings about trend culture via her personal social media stating that, “I hear so many songs nowadays, particularly through TikTok, but something is missing. In the last year I’ve only discovered a handful of artists I feel connected to and passionate about. Albums and comprehensive storytelling seem less relevant as attention spans are shorter.” And I would fully agree that the rate at which we consume trendy hits has caused a disconnect between audiences and artists. Though media marketing is great for those seeking recognition, it’s almost dangerous to the relationship music creates. When we become engulfed in the artist through interviews, concerts, conversation, it’s as if we’ve found a friend and are a little less lonely. It may even create a sense of community among fans. And on behalf of the artists being limited in perception to one line they wrote may be frustrating. They’re human, with so much more to express than a trend. Who they are is being condensed to a media practice. 

Music holds such power, and so does consumption, so consuming with purpose has the potential to band together such bountiful relationships. TikTok could be incredibly useful for the exposure of small artists, but at the end of the day, what they mean to us is up to personal decision. For this reason, when you come across a song by a small creator that catches your ears, dig into their discography. You never know if you might find your new favorite artist.

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