Here’s What Happens When A TikTok Song Goes Viral

What happens when a TikTok song goes viral, on the Music 3.0 blog

You might think that I’m posting a lot about TikTok lately and you’re right. The reason why is that the platform has become an important part of the music business, and probably more so than you’re aware of. The video below shows how influential the service really is when a TikTok song goes viral.

You should watch the whole video because it’s eye opening (except for the mid-roll adverts that keep popping up), but if you don’t want to spend the time, let me give you the quick overview.

Your Big Break

The Pudding took the data from every TikToker that had their music go viral in 2020 to determine if that virality was enough to change their career. They determined that there was 1,500 songs that went viral on the platform during that period, but that most came from artists that had a track record. When they narrowed it down, there was only 125 artists that were brand new that managed to go viral.

But here’s where it gets good. They also found that when a song goes viral on TikTok, it also gets a huge streaming boost on Spotify as well, mostly because it gets playlisted precisely because it’s hot on TT. They called this the “TikTok to Spotify pipeline.” Not only that, most of the 125 artists also had other songs playlisted as well.

Furthermore, 25% of all new artists that landed on the Spotify charts had TikTok to thank for their big break.

Here Comes The Music Industry

This is where the major labels come in. Their latest strategy is to closely monitor TikTok, then aggressively try to sign artists that are hot. But since there is so much revenue that can be generated from just one big hit, many of these viral artists then become the center of a bidding war among the major labels. This could lead to as much as a million dollar advance or more.

Most indie artists see all that money and immediately sign a contract that is not favorable to them at all. This could mean as little as a 15% royalty rate, which means that the label takes the majority of the revenue generated and the artist will probably never see another dime during the deal since they’ll never recoup the advance.

That said, many indie artists are now realizing that if they’ve gotten this far without a label, they might not need one at all. This has led the labels to alter the terms of the deals and increase the royalty to as high as 50%, plus allow you to keep the rights to your songs as well.

The Secret

Sounds good so far, but most of the viral artists interviewed said the secret to a viral TikTok song was to constantly post on the platform. In fact, the recommended posting schedule has gone from 3 to 5 times a week, to 3 to 5 times a day, which is why many established artists are rebelling because of the workload!

One final thing. Of the 125 viral artists, only 22 were actually touring, and 13 had played at least one festival. Playing live is the key to a long career, but few artists were taking advantage of their newfound notoriety.

The bottom line is, at least for now, a viral TikTok song is the key to making in the music business. How long will it last? There’s probably a disruptor in the wings right now.


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