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TikTok: A Music Booking Agency View

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “tick-tock.” Depending on who you ask, you might get a different answer. I’m not a mind reader, but for those who are at least 30 years or older, chances are the answer is simple: “Tick-tock is the sound a clock makes!” But for those under 30, the answer is vastly different. Any music booking agency should understand why.

TikTok is a newer social media platform that has taken the world by storm. The app allows its users to create original videos up to a minute long that can then be uploaded for anyone around the world to see. The app first got its start in 2017 and has since grown exponentially amassing an estimated 1 billion active users per month. In the United States, there are 80 million active users with over half of those being between the ages of 16-24. This age range begins Generation Z, commonly referred to as Gen Z. This is the biggest generation of them all and they are categorized as being trendsetters which is important to note. Because of this generations ability to dictate what’s “in” and what’s “out”, in addition to the amount of Gen Z users on TikTok, this platform has become an integral part of society. Especially when it comes to the music industry.

From its conception, TikTok has always been an app for creators. Whether its singers, songwriters, filmmakers or fashionistas, the app has helped launch the careers of many individuals in various facets of the entertainment industry and beyond. For that reason, any music booking agency looking for talent should pay attention.

Because of the app’s unique interface and algorithm, it’s possible for anyone to go viral. Whenever the app is initially opened, users are brought to a “For You” page. Without having to follow any accounts, users are shown posts that the app deems fit for them. The more the user engages with the app, the more accurate the For You page becomes.

So how does someone get their posts to appear on someone else’s For You page? The app takes three factors into account:

    1. User interactions: the videos someone likes or shares, who they follow, what they comment on, and the content they themselves create.
    2. Video information: captions, sounds, and hashtags used.
    3. Device and account settings: language preference, country setting, and device type.

All of these factors are then weighted differently. A strong indicator of interest is if a user watches a video in its entirety rather than location of the creator and the viewer. It’s important to note that follower count does not have a direct effect on someone’s ability to go viral. While having more followers could lead to more exposure, even those with little to no followers still have a good chance of going viral. This gives creators the ability to become overnight sensations which is more likely than it may appear.

This Music Booking Agency Has Seen its Power

Coffey AndersonIn fact, it happened to TSE’s own featured country artist, Coffey Anderson. Coffey’s original song Mr. Red White and Blue is available on the platform and users can choose to add his song, or sound as it’s commonly referred to, to their video. As of January, there are currently over 143,100 videos made using Mr. Red White and Blue.

On TikTok, it’s all about starting and following trends. Many of the posts featuring Coffey’s sound come from American troops. The most popular post using Mr. Red White and Blue depicts a soldier coming home and surprising his younger sister while she was at cheerleading practice. Once she sees her brother, the young girl runs and jumps in his arms while Coffey sings about the hardships every solider has to face while serving their country. The caption reads, “When your brother has been gone for 4.5 months and you haven’t been away from him longer than 1 week.” Since the post was put up in December 2020, the video has received 6.3 million likes, and nearly half a million shares.

This video sparked a trend with many other people using Coffey’s sound and following suit. Hundreds of thousands of videos have been uploaded with the lyrics to Mr. Red White and Blue playing in the background. It was then that this song became an overnight success. To this day, Mr. Red White and Blue is Coffey Anderson’s most listened to song with 14,792,948 streams on Spotify. He was even awarded with a plaque congratulating him on 20,000,000 streams. Check out the video showing the award arriving. Coffey thanks his family, fans, and of course, TikTok. His next most streamed song goes to Bud Light Blue with 4,882,484 listens. A difference this big in total streams can only be contributed to one factor: TikTok.

While these numbers are certainly impressive, they aren’t unusual. When an artist’s sound goes viral, their numbers of streams skyrockets and this phenomenon spans genres and even helps artists to set new records in the industry. During the first few weeks of January, 17-year-old singer/songwriter Olivia Rodrigo released her debut single “Driver’s License.” Gen Z’ers all across the platform immediately took to the song and many TikTok creators started several different trends involving Olivia’s sound. Within the first week of the song’s release, “Driver’s License” had broken Spotify’s record for the most streams of a song in a single week. To top it off, Olivia continued to beat her own record as the number of streams kept climbing each day the song had been out. Rodrigo’s song about teenage heartbreak also broke the record on Amazon Music for “the biggest first week streaming debut ever globally” following its release. The song struck a chord, quite literally, with this generation and having TikTok helped make this 17-year-old’s first song bigger than some of the well-known superstars of today.

The first song to really prove the influential power of TikTok was “Old Town Road.” This genre bending country hit had humble beginnings, starting as a dance trend on the platform. The song was created by 19-year-old Lil Nas X and become so popular on TikTok that it transcended the social site, reaching every other social media platform and making its way to big industry stars. In 2019, “Old Town Road” was the number one song on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart for the 17 weeks in a row. The single broke the record for longest chart reign which was previously held by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day” in 1995-96 and Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito” in 2017. This teenager who made music for fun has since won two Grammy’s and received four other nominations. “Old Town Road” now sits as one of the biggest chart hits of all time.

The power and influence that TikTok has is undeniable. The platform has revolutionized the music industry making it easier for anyone to jumpstart their career. All of these record-breaking examples happened by chance, and each of these artists are pioneers taking advantage of one social platform that will change the industry as we know it. TikTok is big and, whether you’re a music booking agency, performer, an artist promotion company, an event planner, a talent scout, or even just a consumer, the time to get on it is now. Tick-tock, what are you waiting for? After our experience with Coffey and the resultant bookings for him, this music booking agency is paying attention! So, should you.

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About the author

Picture of Elizabeth Hornick

Elizabeth Hornick

Liz is a current senior at UNC- Chapel Hill and an avid concertgoer. She’s hoping to apply her passion for live entertainment to the professional world and learn some of the in’s and out’s of the music industry as one of TSE’s interns.
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