The ‘TikTokification’ of Music
TikTok, the video sharing app.

TikTok’s popularity is indisputable. In 2023, it was the second most downloaded mobile app with 654 Million downloads. However, with the rise of an app that is based on the sharing of short videos, it is clear to see why many people may start to favour short-form content instead. 

The consequences of this? Shrinking attention spans, poor vision, and the life cycle of media content decreasing. 

The constant dopamine hits make the videos addictive and increase the cravings for such, leading to what is called ‘doomscrolling’.

This is defined as when an excessive amount of time is spent scrolling online. This includes the constant consumption of short-form content without realising how much time has passed.

It’s no surprise that 73% of consumers prefer short-form videos to learn about products and services.

Thus, the effects of this have also manifested in the world of music consumption.

Lifecycle of music

One significant consequence of the proliferation of short-form content is how short the lifecycle of songs is.

Songs can go viral practically overnight and the internet is always looking for the newest trends and artists to follow.

The constant exposure to new content combined with a general decrease in attention spans means that trends (songs, in this case) move much quicker. Mix this with the excessive use of TikTok which promotes said songs, it is very easy to grow tired of a song quickly if users are listening to the same small segment of a song multiple times a day.

A recent example is Beyoncé’s ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’. The song became extremely popular on TikTok, and users tend to use trending audio on their videos, so it becomes overused quickly.

Length of songs

The general decrease in attention span has understandably had an effect on song length too. Cutting the length of songs to make songs easier to consume isn’t particularly a new practice, however. Radio edits (2.5 minutes or less) have existed for a long time – but many songs are around that length in full.

Artists such as Pink Pantheress is particularly well-known for her short length songs.

Some of her most popular singles, such as Break It Off and Pain, are all under two minutes long.

Her first album, ‘to hell with it’, has a total run time of 18 minutes.

Regarding the subject, the 23-year-old said:

“A song doesn’t need to be longer than 2 minutes 30, in my opinion,” she continued. “We don’t need to repeat a verse. We don’t need to have a bridge. We don’t need it! We don’t need a long outro.”

Lack of albums

Beyonce once said: “People don’t make albums anymore […] they just try to sell a bunch of little quick songs, and they burn out, and they put out a new one.”

She’s 100% correct. Albums used to tell stories and be whole projects, but now they’re simply a collection of songs. There’s much less emphasis on having cohesive albums or albums full of hits, as long as you have successful singles.

The new emphasis on solely going viral means artists care less and less about producing big projects.

Thus, artists care less about quality and more about quantity. A lot of recent music releases are clear pandering to TikTok. Lyrics that are simple, relatable and catchy can be easily used in TikTok trends that many users can apply to specific situations.

While many artists try to use this phenomenon to their advantage, it can still often backfire.

It is common for artists to post teasers of their songs as part of their promotional campaigns, intending for virality before the song is released.

However, since trends move at such a dazzling speed on TikTok, songs often get ‘old’ before they’re formally released, so the hype hardly continues into actual streams.

An example of this is Sam Smith’s ‘Unholy‘ which garnered much popularity on TikTok, but failed to perform well upon official release.

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Written by: Charleigh Sharp