Grammy nominees highlight TikTok’s sway in music



Grammy-nominated breakup song “abcdefu” is the latest viral sensation to translate popularity on TikTok into chart-topping success and music industry acclaim.

The short-video app, with more than 1 billion monthly active users, has emerged as one of the music industry’s most powerful promotional platforms. Several of this year’s Grammy nominees, including “abcdefu” singer Gayle and R&B artist Muni Long, rose in popularity after influencers and everyday users posted TikTok videos with their music.

“TikTok is 90 per cent of the game,” said Adamm Miguest, CEO and founder of Rapid Launch Media, which creates marketing campaigns designed to make songs go viral.

Even as the music industry gathers in Los Angeles to celebrate artists and their songs at Sunday’s Grammy awards, the relationship between hitmaker TikTok and music labels is showing signs of strain.

As deals with the major music companies expire, the labels are looking to receive some of TikTok’s ad revenue, according to Tatiana Cirisano, music industry analyst for Midia Research. EMarketer estimates TikTok will collect $14 billion from advertisers this year.

One industry executive argued that TikTok should be paying five times more than what it does now, based on payments from other platforms such as YouTube.

TikTok limits music clips to one minute and does not allow the full-length songs available on other streaming apps.

Half of consumers ages 16 to 24 use TikTok weekly and another 40 per cent check it every day, according to the latest data from Midia. The app ranks second only to Alphabet’s YouTube as the place Gen Z goes to find new music, Midia found.

“TikTok has become really integral to the way that younger people relate to music, discover music and consume it,” Cirisano said.

Miguest, who has worked on behalf of Long, Curtis Waters and a collaboration between Lizzo and Cardi B, said TikTok works for musicians because users take part in the promotion.

After seeing a creator’s dance video, “they go to replicate it just for fun,” Miguest said. “They become part of the machine that’s moving that song.”

Songs such as Olivia Rodrigo’s 2021 hit “drivers license” and 2019’s “Old Town Road” from Lil Nas X were among the first Grammy nominees to build buzz on TikTok.

On this year’s list, best new artist nominee Omar Apollo saw his song “Evergreen” trend on TikTok as did R&B artist Steve Lacy with “Bad Habit,” which helped him land four nominations.

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