In 1981 MTV broadcast the first music video with the song Video killed the radio star (the videos killed the radio stars). Both the lyrics and the video allude to radio stars who felt displaced by the rise of music videos on television. But what seemed like an omen did not come true and, 40 years later, something similar happens with TikTok.
The so-called entertainment platform is changing the music industry, as it allows ideas, concepts or trends that users record from their cell phones to be put to music. One of the things that hasn’t changed, according to Ricardo Méndez, music producer and audio engineer, is that “audio has to continue to be good, yes or yes”.
How does music work on TikTok?
Rob Ruiz, TikTok music operations leader, explains that music on the platform plays in two ways: as a central component of the content or as an accompaniment.
When central, the video in question is specifically about the song or audio. When it is accompanying, the audio helps to communicate more broadly, but it is not the central part of the video.
But according to Méndez, for an audio to be effective it has to have a good 10 or 15-second hook that “hooks” the viewer. “You have always needed to be good and that is not going to change. Today we still need to give the viewer a good song.”
Only in this way can dances, music, generic audios of conversations or a scene from a movie go viral, among the many options.
For these audios and songs to be available in the app’s sound library, they must have licensing agreements with both record companies and publishers, to protect the master of the songs and copyright.
As of , TikTok has contracts and licensing agreements with record labels such as Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, and Sony Music.
And although the musicians do not monetize through TikTok, Ruiz shares that “it is the hotbed that opens the door to the marketing lines.” shared that 75% of its users in the United States discovered new artists here and 63% heard music for the first time in a TikTok video.
TikTok and the impact on the music industry
This year, the British singer spoke out against TikTok when her label told her it was important for her to have a presence on the social network so that younger generations would get to know her.
She was not the only artist who rebelled against the platform, as other artists such as Doja cat, Halsey and Florence Welsh joined her protest, arguing that they refuse to go viral based on “jingles” and choreographies to please minors. 25 years old.
However, the statistics show other data. The most recent Culture Next study, prepared by Spotify, showed that 67% of generation Z in Mexico like to listen and watch multimedia content from previous decades, because it reminds them of when things were simpler.
This is complemented by the TikTok 2021 music report , in which he mentions that one of the most interesting phenomena they noticed is the creativity that the community showed to revive “vintage” hits.
An example is the song “Rasputin”, originally released in 1978 by the group Bony M, because thanks to the viralization it had on TikTok, the song was positioned, 44 years later, in the Top 20 of the UK Singles Charts and the Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart . Another example is the Bee Gees’ “More than a Woman,” which became the go-to track for videos seeking to portray “serotonin-boosting” moments.
According to Ricardo, one of the main challenges musicians face is that the platform becomes a showcase for hundreds of thousands of proposals. “Before there were only three options; for example, Madonna, Metallica and Michael Jackson. Now it is more difficult because there are no longer two or three options; there are hundreds of thousands of proposals that are trying to get you to listen to them (…)”.
“There is some risk of being very volatile. A consolidated artist at the time was, to a certain extent, assured of having that process. Now there is this risk of hitting, but tomorrow, like a sandwich, it is down and everything above is filled with proposals. If he stops creating, he disappears,” he shared.
This can be a double-edged sword: as it becomes easier to be displaced, it also becomes an option for more independent artists who, in other circumstances, could not go viral in the same way.
Such is the case with musicians like Nigerian singer-songwriter CKay, whose song “Love Nwantiti” reached more than a million video views, ranking as the number two song on the Billboard Global 200 . Another example is the Italian rock band Mäneskin, whose song “Beggin’” went viral to the point of becoming the second most listened to worldwide.
The impact of the music scene in Mexico and LATAM as a result of TikTok
The same report, TikTok mentions that Latin music was the genre with the fastest and largest growth in 2021, going viral worldwide. But while reggaeton hits from artists like Bad Bunny, Jhay Cortez and Jowell & Randy have topped Latin tracks, other genres are taking over.
Contrary to what is thought, what Mexicans listened to the most on the social network this last quarter was not “reggaeton” or “pop”, but rather “regional Mexican”, with 25%. This figure was reflected in the concerts of Grupo Firme, a musical ensemble of this genre, which for the first time broke a sales record at the Foro Sol this March.
On the other hand, this week, according to TokBoard, the eighth most listened to song in the world was “Cumbia Buena”, by the group La Cumbia.