Stars like Drake are teasing their music early on TikTok, building up an audience for tracks before they’re even released. Unknowns are trying to get their songs to catch on by encouraging other TikTok users to put them in their videos. Random older songs are getting kicked back into circulation, seemingly without rhyme or reason.
In short, TikTok is something of a Wild West when it comes to the music business. After the massive success last year of Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” the app seemed like a potential surefire hit generator, but the truth is knottier — it follows its own logic, and labels routinely find themselves scrambling to catch up.
On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about how TikTok’s relationship to music has evolved over the last 12 months.