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NEAR TRUTHS:
THE NEW CALLOUT

TikTok has become the most important tech platform of the current era. This fact was obvious even before the recent announcement that the Chinese-owned pop-culture engine had set a new record for app installs in a single quarter (315m) and had earned more than 2 billion worldwide since its launch. It has been the catalyst for recent breakouts like Doja Cat, BENEE, Surfaces, Arizon Zervas, SAINt JHN and more—and the accelerant for hits by established acts like The Weeknd and Dua Lipa. It is where Gen Z (and whatever comes after Z) discovers music and leans on the button, sending songs into the stratosphere as they fly from TikTok to comparatively old-fashioned socials like Instagram (OK, Millennial) and up the streaming charts.

Its influencers have the eyes and ears of kids in a way most pop stars could only dream of and are commanding substantial sums for their various hustles. When they get behind a release, the response can be formidable. Witness platform megastar Charli D’Amelio (53.3m followers) giving the new Marshmello/Halsey, “Be Kind,” a serious boost by premiering a snippet on her official page.

There’s changing strategy being employed in the use of influencers to develop a story and gauge the appetite for a track—it’s comparable to warming up the audience for the headliner or starting out in secondary markets before calling one’s shot with the top gatekeepers. Eventually, though, all roads lead to Charli.

Lest biz folks imagine they can easily tame and ride this beast, though, understand that this all-consuming platform of dance crazes and other short-form, viral video is a true wild card. One of the most mind-boggling aspects of this phenomenon is that there really is no such thing as a TikTok song—its lottery can be won by new tracks, classic hits, big stars, unknowns, moldy old AM mid-charters. Any genre is eligible, not to mention a great song that fuses all the genres together (“Old Town Road,” you’ll recall, first pinged the radar when scores of kids used it in clips of themselves turning into cowpokes).

This is the new callout. And though some TikTok hits may fizzle before they can cross to other platforms, having the viral energy of its community behind your song can be absolutely explosive. Call it a datamining operation if you like; in terms of discovery, TikTok is a goldmine.

THAT’S NOT ALL, FOLKS: Less than a year and a half into the Warner Records regime of Aaron Bay-Schuck and Tom Corson, there’s been a noticeable uptick, thanks to Dua Lipa, PARTYNEXTDOOR and NLE Choppa, with new music from Saweetie on the way.

 

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