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New research reveals how TikTok is changing the music industry
Thought Leadership15 June 2021

New research reveals how TikTok is changing the music industry

By TikTok for Business@tiktokforbusiness
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New research reveals how TikTok is changing the music industry for brands, artists, audiences, and the industry.

The impact of TikTok on the music industry has been profound. Audiences are discovering new songs, artists and soundtracking trends, and that success lives off the platform, as tracks popularised on TikTok storm to the top of charts.

Today we are launching a series of studies which identify the power of music and artists on TikTok and how audiences interact with music on the platform.

80% of those on TikTok say that they discover new music on the platform and that it is the number #1 place for music discovery - more than other digital platforms, streaming services and friends. Over half (56%) of that discovery happens naturally in the For You feed.

The studies were informed by third party research from TikTok Marketing Science in collaboration with InSites Consulting, as well as qualitative research from PRS IN VIVO. The research covers the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

Paul Hourican, Head of Music Operations UK at TikTok said: "Artists and their music are a central part of the TikTok experience. Every day on TikTok our incredible community use music to bring joy and express themselves in a new and creative ways. We're a sound-on platform that has been transforming the way fans make, discover and engage with music, helping artists to build fanbases and achieve huge success both on and off TikTok. The power of TikTok is that it helps fans discover music from any artist be that emerging or established. It's music they might have never stumbled across otherwise, connecting people for the first time to a broad spectrum of artists or breathing new life into catalogue tracks.

“The new research unveiled today shows that what starts on TikTok has the power to transcend the platform. Our community often research, stream, and buy songs they hear while browsing the app. This opens up new possibilities for the music industry as a whole—and creates a new paradigm for sharing, creating and discovering artists and their music. Ultimately, sound is the hashtag for a new creative language. This presents a unique opportunity for brands to leverage this and increase ad recall in their content by ensuring their selected sound lines up with their visuals."

Charli XCX, the Brit Award nominated popstar and Mercury-Award nominated songwriter, is the artist behind not one, but two big viral tracks on TikTok. Speaking about what makes TikTok special, Charli comments: "What's really interesting and cool about TikTok is that it puts all of its users on the same level. Everybody has as much cultural cache and value as each other as we're all just being real. I feel that I can be extremely real with my fans on TikTok, we're all just the same people, part of the same community with our own in jokes. It encourages very real interactions.

The research helped to identify three main drivers of the music experience on TikTok: Discovery, Be Discovered and Rediscovery.

1. Discover new music

The data shows that TikTok exposes audiences to new sounds and music that accompany the latest trends. Not only does this echo findings from TikTok's Gen T research - which highlighted that people who use TikTok possess a highly explorative 'discovery mindset' that drives their behaviour - but it also shows how TikTok is inspiring people to break outside of their existing music bubbles.

People find new music through trends, viral songs, and the success of emerging artist, and in turn feel inspired to like, save and share that music within the app.

This discovery doesn't stop off the platform - people who are inspired by music on TikTok carry this enthusiasm off the app, too. After listening to new music, almost half of people on TikTok add the song to their favourites (47%), view the artists' profile (46%), and even follow the artist on TikTok (43%), and this in turn has triggered a mass wave of new artist discovery.

2. Artists are discovered

According to the research, four out of ten people on TikTok say they discover new artists on the platform. For artists, TikTok can connect their music with new audiences. The platform is democratic, so any artist—whether it’s an indie musician or a top-charting band—can share their songs and find fans on TikTok.

For example, no one set out to discover one man’s version of a 19th Century sea shanty. But what started as a simple TikTok exploded into global recognition. Just a sole TikTok from one creator has single-handedly revived a centuries-old tradition and brought it to a new audience.

3. Re-discover old favourites

The data shows that people on TikTok are more likely to share a video if they feel nostalgic about the music featured in the content, with over four out of five people on the platform stating that nostalgic sounds actually enhance and add value to their TikTok experience.

This shows that TikTok isn't only for the new - the power of the TikTok community has helped with blowing the dust off old tracks. Remixes, remasters and classics have experienced a new lease of life on TikTok, with old tracks climbing back to the top of the charts as a result.

After TikTok creator Nathan Apodaca posted a viral video skateboarding to “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, the 43-year old song soared to the #2 spot on the Rolling Stone’s top 100 songs chart. One of the key components as to why this was so successful, is because nostalgia is a major driver of trends on TikTok.