2019 marked the rise of the popular social media app TikTok — but beyond the dances, story times and random trends, TikTok has also become a platform for music exploration.
Artists like Em Beihold, whose song “Numb Little Bug” went viral on the app, and 24kGoldn, known for his song “Valentino,” have used the app to kickstart their careers and still use it to promote new music. Of course, TikTok’s most famous success story is of Lil Nas X, who first posted a clip of his viral hit “Old Town Road” in 2019, garnering millions of views, according to Net Influencer.
At Cal Poly, many students use TikTok to find their new favorite music. This doesn’t just mean the hits that go viral, but also local artists that just happen to show up on their “For You Page.”
Plant sciences sophomore Annica Wu, who is also the singer for the local band Nine Hearts, said TikTok is a good place for her to find new music and a great way for artists to publicize their work.
“[TikTok] is a good way to connect people and for artists to spread their music,” Wu said. “The format of the app allows music to spread quick.”
However, gatekeeping music on TikTok has also become a widespread trend. When users see an unpopular song they’ve liked start to go viral, some will claim that they heard it first or attempt to keep more people from hearing it. This is something that economics junior Shaylin Su’a doesn’t approve of.
“I think it’s fine to find something you like and enjoy it even if it’s through TikTok,” Su’a said.
She said TikTok is an easy way to produce viral content for everyone, and that it’s not just for younger people. For Su’a, not having new music puts her in a rut, so being able to find music through any method is important.
“You get tired of the same thing,” Su’a said. “[Music] connects to my mental health a lot.”
Su’a also said local bands can be found through TikTok and other social media apps. Wu’s indie-pop band has been using Instagram and YouTube to get their name out into the local music scene.
But Wu has found that making these videos for social media is not as easy as it may seem. Even making short clips of her band’s performances for Instagram has proven to be difficult to edit together. From formatting to stylistic elements to ensuring audiences can find the post, she said there’s more to getting your music out there than meets the eye.
People of all ages use TikTok to find new music and maybe even their new favorite songs or artists. In terms of accessibility for audiences and the speed at which music can go viral, TikTok has become a space for artists and music lovers to turn to.