June 23, 2024

Has TikTok Ruined the Authenticity of Music?

By Jocelyn Johnson

TikTok has created numerous opportunities for artists of all sizes, but is it altering the authenticity of how we listen to music and engage with artists? TikTok, a platform that has built its popularity off short-form videos and can reach broad audiences worldwide, has notably helped launch careers for artists like Ice Spice. Her track “Munch” went viral, catapulting her to four-time nomination status as of yesterday. TikTok played in her favor because she used the platform to gain free promotion for her music.

Utilizing TikTok for promotion highlights its significance for up-and-coming artists hoping for recognition and fame. However, some fans are bothered when other people begin discovering their favorite artists via TikTok. I empathize; encountering new artists through mainstream platforms can feel less genuine. TikTok’s ambiance, cultivated over the years, often feels somewhat artificial. Stumbling upon new music lacks the organic appeal of traditional methods for discovering music. I’m less interested in following artists whose music trends solely due to its popularity, as it often lacks authenticity when I listen to it.

While TikTok offers valuable exposure for artists, it reshapes the artist-fan dynamic. Think about Steve Lacy’s tour announcement two summers ago and how it coincided with the viral success of his single “Bad Habit” from the album “Gemini Rights.” As someone who loves going to concerts, naturally, I was excited to see him perform. I’ve been a fan of his for quite some time and really love his music with the band he’s also a part of, “The Internet.” I knew attending such a concert might attract fans drawn solely to the trending audio, ruining the concert experience for long-time fans. A performance like that would likely draw a crowd primarily interested in just hearing the viral snippet of “Bad Habit” with many people simply purchasing tickets to brag about attending a Steve Lacy concert.

Reflecting on short-form media, its benefits are clear, yet it’s still a concern. Like many aspects of the internet, it presents both advantages and disadvantages. I believe it’s important for us to take the time to genuinely listen to these artists, rather than only enjoying a quick fifteen-second snippet of their work. By engaging deeply with the artists’ music, we can create a stronger connection with artists, rather than treating them as disposable TikTok audio trends. It seems to me that people are not fans of the music itself, but rather fans of the brief moments it represents online.

6 thoughts on “Has TikTok Ruined the Authenticity of Music?

  1. What an inciteful and intriguing blog, Jocelyn! I have never before fully realized the influence rising social media channels have on the music industry. I do understand both perspectives you present here. I see how viral videos and TikToks give a platform to deserving artists to market their music and find a whole new audience. However, I also understand how this can alter the relationships between a fan and an artist when a third party enters the equation.

  2. This topic that you chose is really interesting and something I think most people wonder. There has been a slight trend of people saying, “oh, isn’t that song from TikTok”, which almost feels like it discredits your music taste and that artist. I do understand that both side of the conversation are valid and have pros and cons, but I do think there is a devalue of a song if it released on TikTok or it becomes viral on the platform first.

  3. This is a really interesting take! I have encountered this issue in a different light. Some people will look down on your music taste if you discovered artists over tiktok. It seems that tiktok promotion cheapens the value of the music in certain peoples’ eyes. I’m curious how this dynamic may create a power imbalance in the music industry going forward.

  4. Hi Jocelyn, I thought this was a very interesting take on TikTok and its impact on music. It definitely makes me think more about the music I listen to and if I would’ve liked/listened to some of the music I got from TikTok if I hadn’t seen it there, with videos attached to it. It also makes me think about the UMG catalog being taken off TikTok recently, and how it could further impact TikTok and different artists that rely on TikTok for promotional purposes.

  5. Hi Jocelyn,
    I found this post really interesting. I think it’s true that TikTok has had a huge influence on the music industry. I think you did a really good job of articulating this in this post. I’m curious if the short form video content, that songs are so often in, has impacted the way artists are making music. If newer songs are shorter or different in other ways. It’ll be interesting to see how the music industry changes has social media and short form content continues to grow.

  6. Hi! Your article is an interesting approach to the changing environment of how we consume and discover music. I feel like this is a trend that can be seen over the last few decades, from music being solely tangible to streaming. I like how your writing asserts your passion toward connection between artist and listener. As someone who has discovered numerous new musicians via TikTok, I would have to argue that there’s value in both sides. I appreciate your acknowledgement of the amount of smaller artists that have been impacted by TikTok’s algorithm creating traffic, as I think this is one of the biggest “pros” toward your discussion. Your article leaves me weighing the advantages and disadvantages, and definitely makes me think about the evolving musical landscape.

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