TikTok’s effects on the music industry: opinions from students



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Over time, TikTok has increasingly grown in popularity around the world, and has over one billion global users today. Since the app is so popular, several undiscovered musicians post videos on TikTok in hopes of getting recognized for their talent. App users have gained perspective on the effects it has on the music industry and the fanbase musicians can attain as they grow in popularity. Several users have seen both the negative and positive effects of TikTok on the music industry. 

The app itself has certain features that can increase the popularity of a musician and their songs, such as the For You page. 

“It allows listeners to open themselves up to other types of music that they normally will not listen to if not for TikTok. The For You page really offers a good place for them to find stuff that they’re not used to, or things that they are used to…” Kashaf Iftikhar (12) said. 

One of the first pages you see when you open the app is the For You page; which is made of videos curated for each user. The For You page is an important aspect of how a musician could gain a larger fan base. Musicians make a TikTok account and post their music on the social media platform. This can lead to their videos quickly ending up on the For You page. This page has an algorithm in which the curated videos are made based on the user’s interests and history of interactions. If a user likes and saves many videos with the same type of music, the algorithm will pick up on this and a user could find similar musicians or songs that pop up on their For You page. Over time, the same song could end up on hundreds of users’ For You pages and might become very popular. Some musicians could potentially become well-known because of this page alone.  

There is also a financial benefit musicians can attain through TikTok. As their songs gain popularity and streams on Spotify or other music apps, they can make more money because of their music.  

“So, if you’re just scrolling past stuff and you see a musician that you’re not used to, and then like the song since it is really catchy, then you’re going to start listening to the song. Then the musician’s going to make money because they deserve to,” Kashaf said. 

Emma Azarte (11) also shared the same perspective on the financial aspect of TikTok that musicians experience. 

“Even if it’s not good music, TikTok promotes it and the songwriters are getting lots and lots of money,” she said.   

A few examples of musicians that have gained a lot of popularity through TikTok are Steve Lacey, PinkPantheress, Ice Spice, and Declan McKenna. In 2022, Steve Lacey’s “Bad Habit” became quite the hit on the app. In February 2023, “Boys a liar Pt.2” by PinkPantheress and featuring Ice Spice had everyone rapping Ice Spice’s verse. Although not talked about as much as the other two musicians, the artist Declan McKenna is becoming popular on the app. His song “Brazil” was originally posted on his YouTube channel in December of 2014. Although his song has been out for 8 years now, it has recently been gaining a lot of attention on TikTok with thousands of posts using a clip of the chorus. 

Despite these beneficial effects of TikTok on the music industry, the app alternatively creates several negative effects that musicians and fans on TikTok should ideally acknowledge. The app can over-popularize remixes of a musician’s song, such as sped up or slowed down versions, leaving the original song less trendy. As well as the fact that usually only a 30 or 40 second clip of the song is actually trending. Altered versions of songs can negatively affect musicians. 

“When people hear that one part of the song, there’s a big demand for that song… The band goes on tour, they play a concert, everyone’s there because they want to hear that song, or even that one specific part of the song. They have a whole discography of other songs that no one cares about,” Joaquin Santamaría (12) said.

Labels that artists work with can also show the negative effects of TikTok on the music industry. Joaquin talked about how musicians are affected by labels when they pick up on a song by an artist that is well-received on the app. 

“You find a lot of artists that get changed specifically to fit this TikTok demographic because the label wanted them to,” he said. 

These are the negative effects pertaining to the musicians themselves, but altered songs also affect fans and first time listeners. Altered songs can negatively impact how people perceive an artist’s music. 

“When you use a sound or like an audio on TikTok, it’s not generally the actual music or by the actual person who put it on there. I think it kind of ruins the vibe of the music sometimes because it plays it too fast or slows it down, or puts like a voice changer on it to get it to change the voice of the person. I don’t think there’s any more really good songs on TikTok anymore because I think a lot of them got in trouble for using them. They got taken off, so I don’t think there’s really any more good things on TikTok anymore,” Brooke McKiddie (10) said.

The song “Brazil” by Declan McKenna is an example that perfectly showcases this perspective. Although the song has been gaining attention, it’s not the original song. The version of his song that has been trending is the remastered version he posted in 2017 that is sped up.

Tik Tok has the potential to skyrocket a musician’s fame and provide a considerable amount of financial gain for their hard work. However, music itself can be altered, posted, and popularized by people on the app. This can ruin the original interpretation of the music for many. It seems that every positive effect from TikTok has its negative aspects. Its effect on the music industry and its one billion global users indicates how influential the app can be to a vast amount of people. 


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