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15 Seconds To Fame

Who would’ve thought that a Chinese invented dance app would be responsible for finding the number one Hot 100 Billboard song of all time and the most listened to song of 2020 with over 1 billion streams? In case you didn’t know (and I definitely don’t blame you if you don’t), I’m talking about “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and “The Box” by Roddy Ricch. These two songs, are some of the biggest songs of the past two years and its starting to look like Tik Tok is becoming the music discovery app of the future.

In an article written by Dillon Thompson entitled “How Tik Tok Became 2020’s Most Important Music Platform”, he points out an observation made by Kevin Rutherford who is Billboards chart manager for social, streaming and rock. Rutherford noted that “As of the latest Billboard Hot 100 data (April 18), at least five of the country’s top 10 songs have also been hits on TikTok.”

Obviously, this cannot be a coincidence. In fact, Thompson points out that artists have faced criticism about how their songs seem purposely crafted to be hits on the app, citing “Yummy” by Justin Bieber and “Tootsie Slide” by Drake which literally has instructions for the dance in the chorus.

The fact that these huge mainstream artists are starting to recognize the trend and have Tik Tok work for them, should be a sign that this trend isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Marketing a song has never been cheaper and the chance for a seemingly unknown song now has a bigger chance than it ever did at becoming a hit.

Even though the workings of the algorithm are essentially a mystery, it appears that it works on the basis of all other social media apps in that the app rewards users for getting other users to stay on the app longer. Tik Tok rewards those users by exposing their content to a greater number of users “For You” page. Basically, the longer people consume a piece of content, the more that user’s content is promoted.

A few questions arise for this brave new world. Will this help music in general by inspiring musicians to create more and more content since fame and fortune can be just one Tik Tok away? Or will this create a musical dystopia that is filled with nothing but dance songs that sound good in 15 second intervals? Of course, the truth is always somewhere in the middle but regardless, it’s safe to say that this “dance app” is becoming a huge force in the music world and its not going away anytime soon.

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