The TikTok-ification Of The Music Industry


(Graphic by Olivia Kao)

Olivia Kao, Reporter

Steve Lacy, a popular indie artist who has been a big name in the R&B scene for years, released his single “Bad Habit” in the summer of 2022, which soon after reached number one on the Billboard Top 100. 

The hook of Lacy’s single has been used for over half a million TikTok videos and the song has been streamed over 600 million times on Spotify since its release. 

Despite the unprecedented success of “Bad Habit”, Lacy is no stranger to the music industry, and shouldn’t be considered an artist who is only famous for having music that went viral on TikTok.

However, a recent video of a Steve Lacy concert shows the crowd’s shallow knowledge of his music. While performing “Bad Habit,” Lacy pointed his microphone towards the crowd, in hopes that they would sing the second verse of the song. You’d think people who attended his concerts would at least know the lyrics to some of the songs.

The crowd loudly sang the hook, which (uncoincidentally) was the snippet that went viral on TikTok. 

Nevertheless, an awkward silence filled the stadium once the second verse began, leaving Lacy annoyed, and rightfully so. 

If you’re going to go to a concert, shouldn’t you at least know more than seven seconds of only one song? 

The adoration artists like Lacy receive online doesn’t necessarily seem to be reflected in person.

However, having only the most viral bits of your music identify you as an artist isn’t the only issue that comes into view regarding TikTok and the music industry.

With the rapid growth of popularity for social media platforms’ short-clipped videos (i.e. Instagram reels, YouTube shorts, etc.), many artists have complained that the industry has become too reliant on apps like TikTok.

Writing, producing, and recording music seems to be enough of a busy schedule for an artist and their team. 

Despite this, many artists nowadays are expected to create social media content in addition to their chaotic calendars in order to promote their music in such a fast paced industry that is only becoming more and more dependent on technology.

In spite of many artists finding success on the platform, TikTok is more detrimental than beneficial to the music industry. 

Artists like Lacy are certainly worth more than the number of streams, hearts, or likes that they receive on social media.