TikTok and Music: When Two Worlds Collide



With over 800 million users worldwide, TikTok — which started as a small-growing social media app — has now become one of the most used social media platforms in the world.

Jake Kalinowski, Freelancer

TikTok, an app in which users create short videos about virtually anything — from dancing videos, to emotional stories, to hilarious skits — has grown from a small app to one of the most used social media platforms, with over 800 million users worldwide. 

TikTok expanded significantly during the COVID-19 shutdown in the spring. At a time when businesses were closed and people were encouraged to remain in their homes — a period of social isolation — many turned to TikTok as source of positivity. Soon, TikTok ‘trends’ began to emerge. Families bonded through making videos together. Those who could dance learned Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” dance (“Savage” subsequently became of the app’s most popular songs; there are currently over 30 million videos TikTok videos to the song).

Though many will claim that TikTok can be addicting — and users often find themselves in their beds scrolling through videos at 2 am — Tik Tok has become a safe space in which users share laughs and inspiration through their content.

While TikTok has only recently become popular since its launch in 2016, music has been around forever. It’s well-known that music has the power to engender a wide array of emotions in listeners and connect people around the world.

Music is quite prevalent on TikTok, and arguably, the app wouldn’t be the same without it. Through music, users can create dance moves, fashion trends, and comedic videos. TikTok has also enabled relatively unknown and struggling artists to rise to fame overnight and begin successful careers in the notoriously tough music industry.

Doja Cat, a once-struggling artist from Los Angeles, owes her success to social media — and in particular, TikTok. Doja, who began her career in 2014, has since become one of the world’s biggest pop stars through TikTok.

In 2019, Doja’s viral hit “Mooo!” became popular; however, it would be 17 year-old Haley Sharpe’s TikTok dance to the chorus of Doja’s hit single “Say So”that would transform Doja into a global phenomenon. While Sharpe has since gained three million followers and almost 130 million total likes, Doja’s “Say So” would garner her the top spot on the Hot 100 list, and serve as the background music for over 18 million TikTok videos. From there, several of Doja’s other songs would go viral, and Doja would be given the opportunity to perform “Juicy” and “Like That,” at the MTV Video Music Awards and the 2020 Billboard Music Awards.

Benee, a small, 20 year-old pop/rock and R&B artist from New Zealand, also became a pop sensation through TikTok. Benee rose to prominence after TikTok user Zoi Lerma uploaded a video in 2019 of her dance to Benee’s “Supalonely”. Lerma’s video currently has over 35 million views, and the sound has over 10 million videos. Benee went on to receive the awards for Best Solo Artist, Best Pop Artist, Best Breakthrough Artist, and Single of the Year at the 2019 New Zealand Music Awards.

“Savage” by Megan Thee Stallion, “Say So” by Doja Cat, and “Supalonley” by Benee are just some of the songs featured on the TikTok. There are dozens of others that are equally as successful. For the artists of each of these songs, one thing is common: they owe their success to TikTok, and the ways in which the popular social media platform has forever changed the music industry.

Here are a few other notable songs made famous through TikTok:

  • “Roses” (Imanbek remix) by SAINt JHN
  • “Stunnin’” by Curtis Waters ft. Harm Franklin
  • “Can I Call You Tonight?” by Dayglow
  • “Slow Dancing In The Dark” by Joji
  • “Sofia” by Clairo