You know what’s funny? Being mad at the obvious. Yes! Tik Tok dictating the charts only makes sense. For a very simple, logical reason. It has little to do with its demographic or plentitude of filters. Here’s a crazy claim: Instagram COULD have dictated the music market if… they had focused on ANOTHER type of content. And that is remixed content. Or as we prefer calling it, derivative content. Meaning you are not the one that came up with the original idea, but you’re adding your own flavor and twist to it. Nothing easier in the world than jumping on something that’s already popular. This is how Tik Tok won across social media platforms and took over the music trends as well.
Instagram has always focused on ORIGINAL content. Same for Facebook, and YouTube back in the day. Because YouTube is now smarter and lets video creators upload a whole lot of derivative content. All the reviews, psychological, social, and political commentary videos, are simply talking about something that’s already being talked about. Derivative content is easy to produce and promote. Original content, on the other hand, is like trying to find the smallest needle in the largest haystack. Even if your original content is stellar and undoubtedly worth engaging with, people resist change. And your new ideas are a CHANGE for their user experience on social media. So people will resist you and your awesome ideas. The way you make people accept you is by pushing your change enough times until it becomes accepted by a large group of people, thus socially making it easier for new followers to accept you, because then you don’t represent change anymore. You’re a trend. After you’re a trend for long enough, you become the standard, aka the comfortable place. And that is the place all famous people are in. They’ve pushed their content enough times with enough power to make it a trend, and ultimately transition to normality.
So how does this tie with influencing music charts? A record makes it big onto Tik Tok in one of the two ways: either a small group of major influencers kick off the trend, or a large group of micro influencers make it cool to engage with. Rarely, you’ll get large groups of major influencers. But that just means that hundreds of thousands of dollars were poured into it. So we’ll leave the 3rd option out for now. Record labels PAY these influencers to create dances for the songs they’re trying to break. Pay enough influencers to engage with your music, and as we explained above, your record will be a trend then a comfortable place.
Record labels and artists couldn’t employ this tactic on Instagram or Facebook because the two discourage remixed content. They want everyone to be creators and not adaptors. Tik Tok however, has opened the floodgates to viral music by encouraging and BASING its existence on remixed content. Accordingly, songs that make it onto the charts thanks to Tik Tok, don’t make it there because the vast majority objectively decided it’s a good record. But because there were money put into getting the influencers standardize the song.
Your question might be: but how does someone become enough of an influencer to push new records? They applied the same trajectory to get their fame! First, they danced and did videos on records that were already famous until they got enough of a crowd trusting their content. Then when they have remixed enough popular content to become an authority on it, they made the natural transition to trend setters thus got the ability to literally convince millions of people that your song is worth giving a try. And they got filthy rich at it too.
If you’re a musician, don’t turn into an influencer. But find ways to make money off your music-related skills so you can pay professional, dedicated influencers to break your records. You can’t become an influencer just to promote your music. You’ll fall off. Influencers have to stay up to date with all viral challenges and do plenty of embarassing things on camera. It is quite honestly a full time job with no days off. Save yourself the time and energy and focus on music and let the online socialites do their thing in helping you out.
As for Tik Tok dictating the charts, it’s nothing new. It simply changed where the money behind the music goes to. If in the pre-Covid era labels paid for touring and traditional advertising, now they’ve redirected their funds to influencers.
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