By Gabriella Dunn
The politically controversial app, TikTok, has revolutionized the way we view social media. Owned by the Chinese technology giant, ByteDance, TikTok developed its platform from a previous app called ‘Musicaly.’ With videos under sixty seconds, people are continuously exposed to a wide range of content from around the world. The ‘for you page’ feature allows users to scroll through the app for hours, as they are constantly fed new content.
The popularization of TikTok led to a shift within the music industry, as many creators have been discovered through the app. There are multiple ways an artist can advertise their music on TikTok. Musicians can upload their music as sound bits that users can implement in their videos, or promote their music by uploading a video. Artists have also gained popularity from TikTok users making dance challenges or memes to their music. An example of a song turned into a meme and dance challenge is the song Blow Your Mind by Dua Lipa. Another song popularized by a dance challenge is the song ROXANNE by Arizona Zervas.
Artists have used more strange ways of advertising their music on the app. The artist Madelynne Whitt, or @madwhitty on TikTok, created a sound bit covering the song Down by the Bay, but added her own twist and produced her version of the song re-labelled Where the Watermelons Rot.
To gain attention for the song’s release, Whitt made a series of TikTok videos stating that if Charli D’Amelio (a popular TikTok user with over one hundred million followers) used her song in a TikTok, Whitt would shave her head. While this did not gain D’Amelio’s attention, Whitt’s series did become popular, allowing her to develop a platform as an artist on streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music.
Mainstream musicians have also started implementing TikTok as a way to advertise their music. Drake released the song Toosie Slide to create a song that would be an instant dance trend on the app. Drake’s song lyrics provide simple dance instructions for TikTok users to recreate in their own videos.
The artist Doja Cat has also benefited from her music being popularized on TikTok. Her songs Say So, and Streets were turned into challenges that she pays homage to in the songs’ respective music videos.
Gaining exposure on TikTok has become a beneficial tool for those who want a career in music. Through my personal use of the app, I follow many musicians who have become popular and have expanded their careers by using TikTok as a stepping stone. Some of my favourite artists I have found through the app are PeachPRC, Lizzy McAlpine, and Mxmtoon.
PeachPRC (PRC being short for porcelain) is an Australian musician who started uploading TikTok videos about her daily life as a fun way to pass the time. When her videos started to become more popular, she began mentioning her goals for a career in music in the hopes that her audience would support her.
Assisted by her TikTok popularity, she was noticed by Republic Records and signed a deal with them around August 2020. Before she signed with a record label, she advertised the premiere of her song Blondes on Spotify by posting a video on TikTok about the lyrics’ humorous backstory. The video went viral, and Blondes hit around four million streams on Spotify alone.
PeachPRC’s content discusses the relatability and hardships present while dealing with mental health issues. She also tells lighthearted stories about her life and finding her own personal style in which she feels comfortable. Her music is inspired by early-to-mid-2000’s pop artists such as Katy Perry, Brittney Spears, Ke$ha, Shakira, and Avril Lavigne. Her latest song, Josh, adds a personal touch to her music, as she uses her ex-boyfriend’s actual name to tell him to ‘f*CK off.’ PeachPRC has so far released three songs, and I’m excited to hear more music from her as she progresses in her career.
Lizzy McAlpine is a musician who started her career by uploading covers of her favourite songs to her Soundcloud back in 2017. She also spent a few years studying songwriting at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. While studying at Berklee in 2019, she began to write her debut album, Give Me A Minute. McAlpine spent the next year working on her album for release on August 13th, 2020.
Prior to her album release, she gained TikTok notoriety from uploading a small segment of a song she wrote titled You ruined The 1975. The song is about an ex ruining her favourite band and sounds like speaking to her ex directly. The video went viral and currently has a total of 8.4 million views on TikTok. Funnily enough, her bio on TikTok is “I am never releasing the 1975 song”, as people would not stop asking her about it.
A defining feature of McAlpines’ music is the personal story she tells in each song. She describes scenes in her songs with incredible detail that helps paint a picture. Her music can be described as folk with a hint of indie. McAlpines’ inspirations range from artists like Phoebe Bridgers and John Mayer to Bruno Mars and Frank Ocean. All her inspirations can be heard sprinkled throughout her music. McAlpine constantly posts little snippets of song ideas on her TikTok, and I follow her eagerly awaiting the next one.
Mxmtoon (pronounced M-x-m-toon) is an indie artist that got her start in 2018 by releasing an EP that was entirely recorded on her laptop. While she is also known as Maia, Mxmtoon created her stage name while making an Instagram account about her art in grade 6. Her song prom dress blew up as a TikTok sound in 2019, as creators used snippets of her song in their own videos. With around 2.5 million followers on TikTok, she posts regularly about her music and other things happening in her life. Recently on her TikTok account, Mxmtoon mentions being featured in the new Life is Strange video game voicing the character, Alex Chen. To celebrate the video games’ release, she covered the song Creep by Radiohead.
Mxmtoons’ music can be described as a mix of indie, folk, and pop as she regularly implements the use of her ukulele throughout her music. Each of her songs sounds similar to a diary entry as she navigates adulthood. Her latest album, Dawn & Dusk, gives a feeling of nostalgia and comfort to the listener. She reminisces on her life and talks about her future. Some artists that Mxmtoon credits for her inspiration are The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, Sufjan Stevens, and Elliot Smith. Mxmtoon presents a bubbly personality on her TikTok account and in her music. I look forward to seeing her in more projects as she expands her career.