TikTok is changing the music industry, whether you like it or not. Through how music is released, received and responded to, the app is able to boost unknown artists to stardom in a matter of weeks. 

Music has always played an essential role on TikTok. Creators will use snippets from songs or comedic videos as a background to their own videos, offering creative ways to utilise the audio or coming up with dances to accompany them. 

These audios (or ‘sounds’, as referred to on TikTok) are a large part of the popularity of the app. The more a sound is used, the more it's picked up by the TikTok algorithm and is more likely to become a trend. 

This gives the app the potential to make a song a mega-hit overnight, the potential to give niche artists more mainstream attention - the potential to allow people to stumble upon new artists they probably would never have heard of otherwise. In fact, according to a study by music-analytics company MRC Data, almost 70% of users are likely to look up songs on streaming services like Spotify after hearing them on TikTok. 

However, many have noticed the app’s negative impacts on the music industry, the main one being that our attention spans are getting considerably shorter. This is creating ‘fans’ who show up to artists’ concerts solely for the trending chorus of a song, completely ignoring the rest of their discography, let alone the rest of the song! 

We can see exactly that with American singer Steve Lacey’s Give You The World Tour. If you’ve been on TikTok or Twitter in the past couple of weeks, you probably have seen the videos circulating of his audience failing to sing along beyond the hook of “Bad Habit” - Lacey’s first career No. 1 single, attributing a large amount of its success to blowing up on TikTok, where it’s been used to soundtrack more than 560,000 videos since the track was released in June. 

“Tiktok fans when Steve Lacy’s hit song lasts for almost 4 minutes instead of 30 seconds (and isn’t sped up chipmunk style),” one Twitter user observed, while another added, “Y’all don’t deserve Steve Lacy tix SMH.” Again, this reinforces how short our attention spans have become, and has made the divide between TikTok Steve Lacy fans and true Steve Lacy fans even clearer. 

Tiktoker Aidan Nelson says “Concerts have gone from seeing the artist, to seeing an album, to seeing a song, to seeing a TikTok sound. This gets really frustrating for both the artist and their true fans. I mean what’s the point of playing a show when 90% of the people only come for a minute or two.” He adds “And when the cheapest ticket to your show is $250, that turns down day one fans away and just opens the door for clout chasing TikTokers who want an hour of fun.” 

So how do we move on? Nelson suggests “If you’re going for a TikTok clip or two, don’t buy presale tickets, don’t camp for barricades and be considerate… and maybe listen to Apollo 21 [Lacey’s debut album] once or twice.”

Miles @ghostinthearchives on Tiktok has a slightly different stand on the matter. Recalling their experience of going to a Frank Iero concert, they said “I went not because I knew any of his solo music, or even much of My Chemical Romance, but it seemed like a cool gig. And I absolutely fell in love with Frank Iero’s music that night because I saw it live and it just blew my mind. That made me fall in love with music for a couple of years.” They go on to say “Go to whatever gig you want! Because a lot of the time seeing an artist live can help you get into them even more.”

But whatever your thoughts are on the concert, let's just hope our new generation isn’t the one to diminish the quality of music. Whilst TikTok has done wonders to gain listeners for a number of small artists, we need to take the time out to consume more music, to stop looking for the next hit, the next album… and just slow down.