Today’s music industry looks much different from the industry ten years ago. Now, with social media, especially TikTok, new artists can put their music out at a click of a button; and, if they hit it right, they may be able to spare the next big TikTok trend.
TikTok has, in a sense, soured an era of one-hit wonders. Small artists blow up, and their song goes viral, but then they fail to continue to connect with the audience. According to Rolling Stone “The music industry relies on TikTok as a launchpad for major songs, but the app often seems perfectly designed to create an army of one-hit wonders.” However, the one thing these artists are doing right is creating earworms, trends that stick in people’s heads—at least for a while.
However, where do these trends come from? The answer is not just one thing, but often a mix of several different elements of production ranging from audio, video quality, simplicity, and timelines. In some cases, trends start from songs that have recently been published by record labels (think Lizzo’s ‘It’s About Damn Time’), and some start from a previously unknown artist (Jax’s ‘Victoria’s Secret’). Some trends come from audio samples such as the sound ‘Here Comes the Boy’ or they may showcase previous one-hit wonders such as Owl City’s ‘Fireflies.’
As The Verge mentions trends can also differ depending on the algorithm one may be on. Something that is trending on Music TikTok may not be something trending on Cooking TikTok. In ways, having different trends blow up on different sections of the app allows for more trends to occur.
Now, why do these trends gain traction? Is it just the right place, the right time, or is it something more than that? It’s likely a combination of several different elements. In part, it may simply be the right place, the right time. A new trend may pop up at a relevant time, or the right people and creators may discover a new song at the right time, making a new trend blow up.
Other times, and often in a combination with the right time, marketing is behind it. New artists may make several different videos with their songs in them, hoping to start a trend or a challenge. Other times, record labels may push a song via TikTok to attempt to get it to blow up. Oftentimes, this strategy is seen with bigger artists.
A recent example of this was with Lewis Capaldi. Capaldi would make videos saying that all of his other singles had blown up, except for his most recent one. Then, Capaldi would make videos saying he hoped that his fans would blow the new song up—and they did.
Other times, an artist’s song will blow up among their fanbase, but will not be a widespread TikTok trend. This too is often something seen in a bigger artist’s fanbase such as Taylor Swift who may have songs trending Swiftie TikTok, but not on any other algorithms.
TikTok trends come from a variety of different sources, and it’s hard to pinpoint where they will come from next. These trends also differ from algorithm to algorithm. TikTok trends are a great way for new artists to get their foot in the door of the industry if they blow up. However, these trends are often sort lived, creating the challenge of retaining an audience. If new artists can utilize these trends and their platform after they blow up, like Lil Nas X, they may be the next big thing in music.
Sources: Rolling Stone (https://www.rollingstone.com/pro/features/tiktok-one-hit-wonders-1028449/)
The Verge: (https://www.theverge.com/22585656/tiktok-trends-sounds-hashtags-how-to-videos) | Graphic Casey Seagriff | TikTok Logo via TikTok