TikTok changes the face of music industry

TikTok is changing top hits lists on several streaming platforms

By: Evanne Mientjes

With 689 million monthly active users worldwide, TikTok is one of the biggest platforms in the world. Users create and share 15-second videos on any topic, such as dance challenges on popular songs. Thanks to its popular trends, TikTok changed how the music industry works.

A few years ago, record companies thought that this crazy, overhyped app would crash. But nowadays, 90% of the TikTok users are busy using it multiple times a day. About 60% of the TikTok users are Gen Zers. For them, it is a real magnet. Geert Lovink, Media theorist and internet critic, Geert Lovink of Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, says that the number of TikTok users grows every day.  “Most young users are very active and decide the trends,” adds Lovink, “Their choices are leading to a snowball effect.”

Record companies

Over the world, record companies believe that TikTok currently is a platform considered by many to be a major player and a dominant element in music. Labels are often looking for people with incredible music, star quality with an established fanbase, and a strong web presence. Besides, record companies want artists whose fans will be able to connect to and will look up to.


Paul Hourican, TikTok’s UK head of music operations, says that the platform saw lots of “artists and labels leaning in and using the platform” to change how they release music after seeing the potential for success on the app. For instance, Dua Lipa asked her fans to help create her new video by dancing to her tracks. But for artists, TikTok has to be a match with their audience and target group. When there is no match, they can use TikTok influencers for promoting the songs.

Artists definitely should join TikTok when there could be a match with the audience. Head of digital strategies at TopNotch, Graciela Velasco, tells several music managers that it is very valuable to connect with the young target audience. Companies like TopNotch also start campaigns to get close collaborations with TikTok itself. “The most important thing is that the artists are supporting the collaborations with the platform,” adds Velasco. She once made a proposal, but the artist did not feel that he had the right energy, so they stopped it.

Changing hit song lists

When TikTok users hear just fifteen seconds of a song when making a video on it, their interests rise, and they search for the original song. By this, songs are growing in their number of streams on different streaming apps like Spotify, YouTube and Shazam. This also happens when users discover songs they have never heard of or remind them of songs played by their parents.

New songs become hits on TikTok. “The link between online popularity and radio popularity have always been unpredictable but trends on TikTok are absolutely essential,” says Fien Deman, Digital Manager of Musickness. Most of the Dutch radio stations have ‘Popular online playlists’. These days it is not only about the playlists on Spotify, but in particular what happens on TikTok.

Old new songs

Nowadays, even old tracks from the ‘80s and ‘90s get a second life by the use of TikTok. Two big successes were ‘Break my Stride’ and ‘Dreams’.

Break my stride was a hit in the ‘80s. But last year, someone used the song and posted it on TikTok. After publishing, 800.000 other TikTok users followed the hype. Now, 40 years later, this old song is popular again. Rolling Stone Magazine mentioned that ‘Dreams’ got an average of 49.000 streams a day. But after it went viral on TikTok the streams increased till 105.000 streams per day, thanks to a video by Nathan Apodaca.

With all trends that users of TikTok create, it is hard to ignore the impact of this app on the music industry. Nowadays, it is quite safe to say that TikTok changed the face of music forever.