TikTok on the Radio


Teens and adults alike have become addicted to TikTok. So, how does this change their habits outside of the app? (Photo in the public domain)

When TikTok came out it was originally viewed as a cringy platform used for children and washed up Vine stars. However since 2019, the app is reaching a new height of popularity every day and a new demographic has entered the scene, musicians.

The short video app has now become a place for both famous and aspiring music artists to promote their music. And with a giant audience to promote their songs, many artists have had huge success in this new campaign. 

But, the big question is, how has TikTok managed to change so much about the music industry?

Viral TikTok Artists

Lil Nas X is a great example of an artist who launched into the radio due to TikTok. His song Old Town Road went viral in early 2019 after the song was used on TikTok. The song reportedly blew up so quickly that radios took the song off of YouTube so they could play it. “People were looking for the song file — where can we even get it? One [programmer] was like, ‘I just recorded it off the internet.’ Three of our markets right out of the gate were sharing the same MP3 [ripped] off YouTube,” Phil Becker said in a Rolling Stone article.

Mothica is another great example of an artist who got a taste of fame due to TikTok. She released a video about a song called “Vices” on her account and went viral. The demand for Vices was so immense that Mothica released the track days before its initial release date. Soon after she released “Vices” it reached top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 music charts. “In four days, it reached 1 million plays on Spotify and went to No. 2 on iTunes Pop!” Mothica said in a Buzzfeed article.

Even Leesville alumni have been successful due to TikTok, just ask Priscilla Block. Block released Just About Over You in early August, and the song instantly went viral. Within a day, “Just About Over You” shot up to the top of iTunes all-genre chart and her listeners on Spotify increased by around 550%, according to Rolling Stone.

And all of Block’s success was due to a TikTok she posted singing the acapella of her latest single which garnered 1.8 million views and many new fans eager for the song to drop.

Mothica, Lil Nas X, and Priscilla Block prove just how valuable of an asset TikTok can be in a musician’s success.

New Genres Emerging

For a long time, people generally tuned into what was on the radio. Teens and many adults just listened to the most popular music in their genre of choice, but TikTok has turned this philosophy on its head.

Since artists have been popping up all over TikTok, multiple new genres and songs have surfaced that likely would not have been taken seriously without the help of the app. “I think it’s a good thing for pop in that it allows just weird songs to get into the system that maybe would not have gotten a serious look at Top 40,” said Mikael Wood on NPR about how TikTok is changing the music charts.

Teens have started to change their music tastes due to the music they hear from TikTok. 

“I used to listen to like really popular songs that played on the radio, but now I’ve been getting into more music that you wouldn’t typically hear in public such as hyper pop and rap,” said Maven Brown, a sophomore at Leesville. Mavens’ testament speaks for many other teens whose favorite music possibly would not have reached its current audience without the app.

Why is TikTok so influential?

The biggest draw of TikTok is that anyone can go viral. Unlike social media apps like Instagram and Facebook, TikTok has an algorithm that shows videos the app believes the user will like. This means every user has a chance to go viral, giving aspiring artists a great platform to launch from.

Another large factor of TikTok’s influence is that a majority of its users are teens and young adults. According to Statista, 62% of TikTok users are between the ages of 10-29. Teens are the newest generation to enter the market, so radio stations know they have to change what they play to keep their audience. They have to keep up with what is popular and for now, that is TikTok.

New Platform, New Problems

To many, there does not seem to be a downside to this new promotion method, but unfortunately, there is.

Due to how specific videos blow up on TikTok and others do not, it is very possible that many of these artists could become one-hit wonders. Sure the artist created one great song that resonated with people, but how likely is it that they can keep their audience around for more? “…They haven’t developed the kind of grassroots following that will actually see them through when their next song isn’t maybe a viral smash,” said Mikael 

There is also the never-ending political drama surrounding TikTok. The Trump administration has tried on multiple occasions to ban TikTok in the United States. Fortunately, he has not come close to success yet, but it is possible that one day he could get the app taken away. This leaves a constant dark cloud over the future of TikTok.

Ever since TikTok came out, it has been a hub of creativity for all kinds of people. Artists, comedians, and millions of others can come together and be part of a community. Despite all the concerns over this new era of expression, it is hard to admit that it is not exciting.


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