15 seconds of new fame
November 10, 2020

Old hits are going viral again thanks to TikTok

Jack Johnson's song 'Upside Down' got millions of new listens when it was used in a TikTok video about TV-purchase scam. Simple Plan’s 'I’m Just a Kid' suddenly powered its way to a platinum certification 15 years after its debut when it was used in a huge TikTok Trend. The same abrupt re-explosion happened with L’Trimm’s 1988 'Cars With the Boom', and of course with Lizzo’s 2017 'Truth Hurts', Rolling Stone says looking at the power of the Chinese social network.

Both the No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 - 24kGoldn feat. Iann Dior's 'Mood', and the No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 albums chart - Pop Smoke's 'Shoot For the Stars, Aim For the Moon' were aided by massive popularity on TikTok. Fleetwood Mac have climbed to the Top 10 of the albums chart after going viral on the video-sharing service. Billboard staff discusses the impact of the video platform on its charts.

New kids on the Tok
October 22, 2020

Indie rock becoming popular on TikTok

TikTok seemed like a space mainly for hip-hop and pop artists, but this year the door was opened for indie-rock as well, Water & Music reports on the change of trends. Mitski’s song 'Me and My Husband' went from roughly 100,000 streams a month to 100,000 streams a day, thanks to a TikTok trend. The most popular song on Spotify for indie-rock legends Pavement is a 1997 B-side called 'Harness Your Hopes', an unofficial, uncredited clip of which is currently included in over 20,000 videos on TikTok. The second most-streamed song on Spotify by the band The Front Bottoms is a 2014 deep cut 'Be Nice to Me', which, thanks to being featured in over 47,000 TikTok videos through an unofficial clip, is currently dwarfing every song from the band’s brand new record. There's an issue looming over TikTok's head - figuring out how to properly pay royalties on user-generated content.

Testing attention span
October 19, 2020

Six-and-a-half-hour album - an unexpected hit on TikTok

English electronic musician the Caretaker started releasing his six-part album 'Everywhere At The End Of Time' in 2016 and finished releasing it in 2019, ending with six-and-a-half-hour album. There was a concept - each of the six parts disintegrated in sound to mirror the loss of memory and identity that comes with the progression of dementia. In 2020, the album has become an unlikely viral hit on TikTok - users of the service have been challenging each other to listen to the entire record, and documenting their response to the experience. The Quietus talked to its author. Listen to the album in full at Bandcamp.

15 seconds away
September 28, 2020

Judge stopped Trump's TikTok ban

American federal judge Carl Nichols blocked President Trump's TikTok ban on Sunday, granting a temporary reprieve to the video-sharing app, NBC reports. During a telephone court hearing on Sunday, lawyers for TikTok argued that the app is a "modern day version of the town square" and that shutting it down is akin to silencing speech. D.C. judge responded by halting the ban, which was set to kick in at midnight Sunday.

Back in the USA
September 25, 2020

TikTok - the sound of the future?!?

Charli D'Amelio

"Is the very sound of pop changing to adapt to TikTok? And can these new viral [TikTok] stars become anything more than one-hit wonders?" - LA Times writes about the increasingly popular social network. Labels are very keen on signing artists trending on TikTok stars - Columbia has signed indie-pop Ritt Momney, the emo-rap yowler 24kGoldn, and the raunchy ppcocaine, Arista Records has signed the San Bernardino-based WhoHeem, and Republic Records the slyly cheerful Claire Rosinkranz. Some of the numbers at TikTok are staggering - TikTok’s most-followed personality, 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio has 88 million followers and can charge as much as $40,000 to dance to a track in a video.

September 14, 2020

US TikTok operations to be sold to Oracle

TikTok operations in the United States will be taken over by Oracle, the Associated Press reports. TikTok, which says it has 100 million U.S. users and about 700 million globally, is a very popular social media among teenagers. In other TikTok news, NME reports that a TikTok video by 19-year-old Bella Poarch soundtracked by a Blackpool grime song ‘M To The B’ has become the most popular video on the entire platform with over 32 million likes.

TikTok is partnering with UnitedMasters, a music distribution company, to allow artists on the video-sharing platform to distribute their songs directly from the app to streaming services like Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube, as well as brands like ESPN and the N.B.A. Instead of selling their rights to a label, artists who sign with UnitedMasters keep 90 percent of their royalties, as well as ownership of the master recordings, TechCrunch reports. The deal is aimed at “tomorrow’s stars who will be famous, fiercely independent and wealthy,” said UM's founder Steve Stoute.

TikTok has 85 million American users and it is a hub for creativity of all kinds, especially for musicians, The Forty-Five reports on impact of politics on music. From the hopefuls to the viral hit makers to the bona fide superstars, TikTok has become the best tool for music promotion. If the American ban on TikTok activates the American users would be kicked off the app and US companies would no longer be able to advertise on there. It is now owned by a Chinese company, if their American operations are bought by an American company before September 15, American TikTok users will remain active.

Alt TikTok is a TikTok sub-scene that is exerting growing influence on the music that becomes popular on the app. Generally, it's weird, excessively creative stuff, more artsy and punk than the Straight TikTok. The music preferred by members of Alt TikTok can be bizarre, abrasive, unruly, headlong, and it's also more open and accessible to different groups of people. And what everyone’s seeing now is that bigger things can come from Alt TikTok than Straight TikTok

"One of the things that has really jumped out at me on TikTok is that you do not need any history of performance metrics for something to go viral; if something is working, even if you’re a first-time uploader with no ‘Likes’, views or creations in place yet, you have an equal and democratic chance of spiking on the platform as something with tons and tons of history" - TikTok’s Global Head of Music, Ole Obermann, said in a Music Business Worldwide interview, adding "that’s pretty unique, relative to other platforms, and obviously paves the way nicely for any type of artists – whether independent, major or unsigned".

Curtis Waters was in a bad mood, "trying to make some stupid shit and cheer up", and made 'Stunnin'', a moody song with a laid-back, appealingly shabby dance routine. It suddenly picked up hundreds of thousands of views overnight, and last week, 'Stunnin'' became the fastest unsigned record to go into Spotify’s flagship playlist, Today’s Top Hits, since Arizona Zervas’ 'Roxanne'. But unlike Zervas, who inked a deal with Columbia Records, Waters is choosing not to sign with a major label - "I felt like I was being treated like a commodity, like I was just a product”. So he wrote another song, 'System', a brittle, declamatory punk missile with a blunt message - “I’m boutta fuck the system up”.

Rolling Stone has yet another story about the power of TikTok - snippets of songs are often becoming popular on TikTok faster than the songs themselves. Fans identify those snippets with certain phrases, not necessarily the titles as labels have tagged them, which made labels start tailoring song titles to make searches on streaming platforms more effective. Or, if there's already a title that's not working, they change the title of the song to the version that the fans are most familiar with.

Short cuts
February 03, 2020

How a 1980s hit went viral on TikTok

TikTok presented it's power on the example of 'Break My Stride', a perky pop smash from 1983 by Matthew Wilder. Thousands of users have shared the song in a texting lyrics prank, and compilations of the clips are racking up hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube. The prank is simple: You text someone the lyrics to Break My Stride, one line at a time, until they figure out what's going on; then you film yourself dancing in front of the text chain. The results are hilarious: teachers have been pranked by their pupils, and cheating boyfriends have met their comeuppance. One user sent the lyrics to a man who'd been lurking in her DMs. Other recipients simply recognize the song and join in the fun. Compilations of the clips have been watched more than 100,000 times on YouTube. The author Matthew Wilder says he's "astonished and thrilled".