Opinions, Pop Culture

TikTok has ruined the music industry

TikTok is no longer just an app that features teenagers dancing. It has now become the largest free promotional tool for artists around the globe.

For the first time in history, TikTok has allowed for musicians to reach a large audience without necessarily having a substantial fanbase.

On TikTok, songs become overnight sensations practically every single day — even if they aren’t that good to begin with.

While this may be beneficial for musicians who are hoping to kickstart a music career, it can also cause the overall music industry to become oversaturated with songs that are specifically made to go viral on TikTok.

TikTok’s algorithm incentivizes the creation of songs that are short and can be attached to a viral trend.

This means that artists are more likely to compromise their creative talents by making songs that are catchy, but not musically significant.

During the summer of 2021, when a TikTok video by GAYLE went viral after a fan asked her to write a breakup song that incorporated the alphabet.

The song, titled “abcdefu,” became an overnight hit and was released by Atlantic Records a year later. It spurred many different versions of the song that also went viral, such as “abcdefu (angrier)” and “abcdefu (nicer).”

The song presents relatable themes, as well as a nostalgic nursery-rhyme chorus, making it the perfect song to grace TikTok’s algorithm and pair with a trend.

There is nothing that is actually remarkable about the song though, besides its catchy lyrics. Quite frankly, it’s an awful song.

This is just one example of how artists on TikTok have shifted their focus from crafting high quality songs with sound structure and intent to songs that will simply ensure 15-second virality.

Besides the switch in many artist’s motives, the virality of TikTok trends has also had a heavy impact on the music industry as whole. This is because when a specific section of a song goes viral, it can become nearly impossible to separate the song from the trend that it is associated with.

A perfect example of this can be found through the resurgence of Kate Bush’s popular song, “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God).”

While there may be a large audience that already knows the song simply because it’s an “oldie,” there is an even larger, younger audience that knows this song because of the Stranger Things themed TikTok trends that launched it back into the mainstream.

Songs that go viral on TikTok aren’t popular because of the artistic value that they might hold. They instead become popular because of the short piece of content attached to it.

In my opinion, liking a song for just 15 seconds does not warrant a legitimate music-listening experience.

I’m not against TikTok. I can embarrassingly admit that I frequent the app a little too often and find much of the content on the app to be fun.

What I am against, however, is the commercial promotion of sub-par songs that are crafted to reflect the overarching desire for virality and revenue, rather than songs that reflect an authentic expression of this generation.

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