Let’s start with Tik Tok.
It's one of the main solutions to overcome our current first world problem, boredom. It’s one of those things that you either take pride in sharing or you secretly spend your days on. It’s literally everywhere from invading your Instagram explore page, to recommended compilations on Youtube. Either you love it or hate it, it’s galvanizing our culture. Especially the music culture. Have you noticed one of the most popular artists on the platform? Of course, there are plenty of answers to this, but Doja Cat is definitely one of them. Observing her rise has been kind of fascinating. Why is that you may ask:
Well, because from my point of view she has been around for a while, but to others, she seems to have appeared out of nowhere, and all of a sudden she seems to be everywhere. Sure, previously she had a major moment with her song “Moo!” and the meme(y) video dressed as a cow (which I absolutely loved), but this has been the biggest that she’s ever gotten. Another artist whose popularity has risen with the app, Megan Thee Stallion, is sharing at least one characteristic in common with Doja – hip hop/ r&b songs caught up in viral dance challenges.
So, are the dance challenges bringing success to this new wave of artists? Definitely. The viral and top charts are filled with songs that have their roots from the app. In fact there is another video category present on the platform which is "the memes". We all love and share them. They have been a good ambient to disseminate un-popular music in order to emphasize their content. Also worth mentioning the lip-syncing videos and the relatable videos, that have the same characteristics as the latter.
Is it only the new artists who get recognition on Tik Tok? Of course not. As scrolling through the app, you can witness that among these new artists you can get some major flashback vibes, with songs that go from Kesha to Mariah Carey. It’s the perfect opportunity to deepen your knowledge in the 2000’s pop scene, after just hearing a catchy hook. For example, thanks to a viral trend I got to discover the song “Obsessed” by Mariah, which has been the perfect addition to my “clueless/mean girls” playlist. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. With the ‘vintage’ trend that has affected almost every creative aspect of our lives, from the way we take pictures, to the way we decorate, it’s no surprise. These songs fulfill our shared feeling of nostalgia, nurtured by the search of past relics, of something that must have flown under our radar. But Tik Tok didn’t come out with anything new.
Speaking of nostalgia, do you remember Vine? It can be defined in some ways the grandfather of Tik Tok, but with only 6 seconds only, bringing a lot of newness to the hip-hop/trap scene. And MySpace? Ok this one goes quite far in history, as it has been considered one of the platforms that helped new wave of artists get more visibility, adding more to the alt-rock/pop-punk genre. Not to mention Soundcloud, more recently, which was at one point “the” place to look for emerging artists, defining an era of Soundcloud Rappers like Playboi carti (one of my favorites outcomes) and giving the possibility to literally anyone to get visibility and share their own tunes. The ultimate example of a noteworthy artist is cupcakKe: a perfect illustration of gaining visibility on multiple platforms: first out of Youtube and then got viral thanks to a Tik tok challenge.
Clearly, with the omnipresent use of social media in the past two decades, the resources to enrich our musical culture have skyrocketed in comparison to the older generation. But something hasn’t changed - the difficulty to find new emerging artists. Yes, with all the customized ‘Discover Weekly’ playlists, it has certainly improved but not as much as it could. It has been more difficult to navigate through a vast ocean of songs and artists to find good ones, due to its overwhelming infinity. What works for me is a mix of mediums, like the ‘Fans also like’ section on Spotify on an artist, although its accuracy is on point. Let’s leave it to machine learning’s advancement to improve it.
In my personal journey of music deep dive, 8tracks has kickstarted it. If you’re unfamiliar with the site, it’s a social streaming site where you can share your curated playlist with at least 8 songs. I remember as I started scrolling, it seemed like a never-ending tunnel full of such beauty. It’s where I got my first idea of what I like and dislike and grew out to understand to appreciate the weirdness. Even if I don’t listen to the music I used to listen to and I don’t use it anymore, I’m grateful for it.