Success on TikTok is essential for achieving music career goals. This assertion about TikTok favors indie artists. However, the outcome of a viral TikTok video needs to be explored. Besides the rapid spread of videos on the platform, TikTok has supported music discovery beyond the ways deemed possible by veteran music executives.

Viral hits on TikTok, a precursor for a successful music career

The Pudding journalists and Vox conducted research in the 2021’s Fall to determine if the rapid spread of videos can transform careers. The researchers wanted to find out whether TikTok’s viral song clips resulted in the career success of indie artists. They used Spotify playlists’ Chartmetric data for the study.

Many Spotify playlists relate to viral hits on TikTok. Many people search for these tracks on music streaming services. Such activity gives an idea about the rapid spread of TikTok videos and their relationship with the streaming platforms’ success. The journalists used playlists featuring TikTok viral songs from January to December 2020.

After ranking the tracks based on TikTok popularity, the researchers filtered songs with less than 100,000 streams. Some artists who had successful careers were among the 1,500 TikTok viral songs in 2020. However, others had their career success with the viral song clip. Artists who rose to stardom before TikTok include Drake, Justin Bieber, Jason, Cardi B, and Charlie XCX.

The researchers also gathered information about the artists’ online presence. They recorded the number of songs released by each artist, playlist placements received, and Spotify monthly listeners. This information helped figure out artists who had careers before becoming viral on TikTok. Finally, the journalists identified 125 artists who made big breaks through TikTok’s viral clips in 2020.

What happened after the song clips went viral?

Assessing cases of independent artists who became famous on TikTok disclosed the significance of social media platforms in producing viral hits. The viral clips have boosted the streaming services as more people stream the songs from Apple Music and Spotify. The viral tracks get featured on the Spotify playlists, generating a TikTok to Spotify channel. Such playlists boosted the independent artists’ monthly listeners. An indie artist experienced 0 to 3.4 million growth of monthly listeners within two months. Most of the artists researched by the journalists had a similar experience following the rapid widespread of their song clips. Their figures improved due to the traction from TikTok to Spotify for music streams and consequent playlist placements.

Influence of TikTok virality

Most indie artists release music on Spotify following their viral TikTok clips. L Dre disclosed that he uploaded his track on the platform following requests for its availability on other platforms. He revealed that his monthly listeners grew rapidly. Most of the artists studied by the journalists also had their tracks curated in Spotify’s editorial playlists.

Besides helping artists to become successful, TikTok virality also influences payments received by big labels on Spotify. Major labels that sign artists with rapidly spread TikTok videos will likely receive a larger share of the platform’s royalty pool. A viral track can drive up to one billion streams within six months, boosting the label’s payout.