I wish I knew … (the lyrics to this song)
Fashion trends, dance fads, esoteric internet inside jokes, and Gen-Z slang are just a few examples of what has sprung from the world’s fastest-growing platform: TikTok. But among all of these, the most prominent content that TikTok has promoted is music. Through its 15-second to five-minute video format, users are able to use snippets of music to complement their videos. This has led to certain musical artists and songs to be pushed into the spotlight.
How has TikTok benefited artists in the music industry?
As certain trends rise, they are usually accompanied by certain songs as well, allowing many artists to push their songs and themselves into the spotlight via TikTok.
According to Billboard, Hot Year End 100 Songs “Heat Waves,” by Glass Animals, “As it Was” by Harry Styles, “Stay” by Justin Bieber and The Kid LAROI, and “First Class” by Jack Harlow were respectively the first, second, third, and sixth on the list. Not surprisingly, they were all songs trending on TikTok this year.
What this essentially means is that as TikTok users listen to songs, they tend to search them up and add them to their libraries and playlists. As millions of users do this, it pushes popular songs on TikTok to the top. This, in turn, makes TikTok a prime platform for music promotion.
Many artists and record labels have also caught onto the connection between popularity on TikTok and a song’s “performance,” leading many artists to advance their careers through the app. Some have enjoyed considerable success with this strategy, such as Olivia Rodrigo with her debut album, Sour, and Doja Cat with her release of “Say So.”
Side effects of TikTok on music
Though some artists, like Lil Nas X, have retained their fan bases after their TikTok-viral songs lost popularity, there are many artists known only for one viral song on the app. One example of this phenomena involves the 17th song on Billboard , “abcdefu” by Gayle. This song could be heard all over TikTok for a few weeks, as it played in the background of almost every video. But, after a few weeks, its popularity departed as quickly as it came, and Gayle wasn’t able to sustain her momentary spotlight.
A similar situation also occurs with established artists who go viral for only a small segment of one song. This issue came to light during a concert of Steve Lacy’s. As the artist performed his hit song “Bad Habit,” the crowd only sang along to the hook and remained quiet for the rest of the song. Many thought it absurd that fans would spend hundreds of dollars to hear a couple seconds of a song they heard on TikTok. Steve Lacy himself commented, “Tiktok is insane because why would you go to a whole concert solely for a hook???”
Though TikTok has allowed for smaller artists to gain a significant following and bigger artists to better promote their music, some feel it has a negative impact on the industry. POPSUGAR’s Hannah Resnick writes that as big labels jump on the bandwagon, they force their already-popular artists to conform to the unreliable algorithm. In addition, they create one-hit wonder artists, without any thought of their long term career in the industry. All in all, it’s a lazy approach to music (TikTok's Changing the Music Industry For Better or Worse, and Artists Are Caught in the Middle).
So while there are positives to TikTok’s presence in the music industry, there are certainly some drawbacks.
If you walk into any Barnes and Nobles, it’s almost guaranteed that there will be a section dedicated specifically to books popular on TikTok, or as the internet has dubbed it, BookTok. This table will be piled with the novels, all promoted by TikTok users.
TikTok has been a driving force for marketing autors, much like in the music industry. Users utilize the platform to create content about their favorite books, specifically books that are romance or Young Adult fiction.
According to Insider, BookTok has pushed book sales to a new high, hitting a 20 year peak in mid-2020 to 2021. According to NPD Bookscan, TikTok made the transition from a novelty to a real anchor for the market."
Colleen Hoover stands as an example of how TikTok has affected the industry. According to The Week, pre-2020, she sold 237,000 copies of her book, whereas in August 2022 with the rise of Booktok, she hit 2.3 million, with a total of 7.9 million copies, surpassing Bible sales in the U.S.
Other examples include Circe and The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. These were all books published years ago but became increasingly popular thanks to BookTok.
How has TikTok impacted the publishing industry?
Similar to the music industry, traditional publishing companies have been trying to find ways to utilize TikTok to tout certain authors and books. But, due to TikTok’s notoriously fickle algorithm, it’s difficult to know what will go viral.
Some publishing houses even collaborate with different influencers to promote their books. For example, according to The Week, Simon & Schuster has been reaching out to content creators to send them free books and merchandise to promote their products. Other companies have been following suit, giving unreleased books to creators to promote upcoming releases.
In fact, TikTok itself has also changed its interface to encompass this growing market. Penguin Random House had reached out to TikTok to add a feature, allowing influencers to link the publisher and tag books in their videos.
So, thanks to TikTok, book sales have surged, and the ways in which publishers have promoted their books has changed.