TikTok is Behind Your New Favorite Song

Music notes in the style of the TikTok app icon.


Music notes in the style of the TikTok app icon.

We all know that TikTok is incredibly influential. The popular dances that it became famous for regularly sweep through Montrose, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t associate the app with various dances. But perhaps even more influential is the music you find on TikTok. Because most users post videos on the app with background music, TikTok dances and acting trends are inextricably linked to certain songs. Thus, as trends go viral, the songs go viral as well. 

TikTok’s format of short videos then sets users up to experience the mere exposure effect. On TikTok, video trends are intense. For about a week or two, users all over the country — and even the world — see an abundance of a certain trend, which often uses the same audio clip in each video. Users hear the same fifteen seconds of a song over and over. According to the mere exposure effect, which states that people develop a preference for familiar things solely based on familiarity, the more you hear a song, the more you’ll grow to like it. So when users hear these viral songs frequently, they are more likely to enjoy them.

As a result, the trending songs on TikTok are more likely to have lots of streams on music apps such as Spotify. For example, scroll through TikTok right now, and you’ll see more videos than you can count using the song “Nuestra Canción” by Monsieur Periné. Then, take a look at Spotify’s streaming charts. The song entered Spotify’s Global Top 200 chart on October 24 at number 152 and quickly grew in popularity, reaching number 76 by October 28. “Nuestra Canción” started to go viral on TikTok in early October, and only a couple weeks later, it showed up on global streaming charts. The song, released in 2015, was not new, suggesting that TikTok was behind its meteoric rise to popularity. 

For artists, this link between TikTok popularity and streaming numbers could mean the difference between fame and oblivion. Take hugely successful artist Doja Cat, who garnered billions of Spotify streams on her newest album, Planet Her. The most-streamed songs on the album, such as “Woman” and “Kiss Me More,” went viral on TikTok, suggesting that the songs’ TikTok fame led to their success on streaming platforms. 

The power of TikTok can also be transformative for small artists. For example, the song “Backyard Boy” by Claire Rosinkranz blew up on TikTok over the summer and propelled the previously little-known artist to top spots on streaming charts. Now, songs on her 2021 EP, 6 of a Billion, have been streamed millions of times. Other small artists, inspired by these success stories, have also begun to rely on TikTok as a means of spreading their music. 

TikTok has had an undeniable effect on the music industry. With the rise of intense video trends, previously unheard-of songs go viral overnight. Trends can introduce users to new music, and the mere exposure effect helps cement the songs as new favorites. So the next time you’re listening to your favorite playlist, look at the songs and consider where they came from. 


by Hana Shinzawa ’24 Opinions Editor