(Photo by Diana Lambert)
The COVID-19 pandemic has put the normal practices of each sector of the entertainment industry on pause. Touring is nonexistent, theaters are desolate, and production on film and television has been halted. Our society has been stuck in their homes with nothing to do for almost a year, turning to social media platforms for solace. Consequently, users have taken their entertainment interests into their own hands. Literally.
Perhaps the most prominent of platforms to blow up during this time is TikTok. In short, TikTok is a video-sharing social media platform with music at its core. Whether the video shared is of an individual dancing or lip-syncing, the primary focus is on the sound used. TikTok’s structure allows users to endlessly scroll, and through its algorithm trends begin to emerge. This gives immense exposure to the ideas behind the trends and the artists behind the sounds.
TikTok has significantly influenced mainstream music by not only resurfacing old hits, but also creating new ones. With songs being used repeatedly through trends, they get stuck in users’ heads who then look up the songs on streaming platforms, shooting them to the top of the charts. Take Lil Nas X and his song “Old Town Road” or more recently Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” for example.
Likewise, record labels have looked towards the platform to sign emerging artists and promote new tracks. However, there’s no guarantee that one will blow up. Rather, it’s the pure interest of TikTok’s consumers and the luck of the algorithm that drives success.
TikTok users have used their boundless creativity to conceive musicals based on television and film, both old and new. In October of 2020 came “Ratatouille: The Musical” based on the 2007 Disney Pixar film Ratatouille. Users contributed their own songs, dances, set and program designs – all of which cultivated into a virtual benefit performance for The Actor’s Fund featuring stars such as Tituss Burgess and Adam Lambert. More recently, the Netflix hit Bridgerton has become its own TikTok musical, with over a dozen songs having been written and posted by duo Abigail Barlow and Emily Bear.
The platform has also become a space where child stars come to reclaim their fame, including Paul Butcher from Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101, Blake Michael from Disney’s Lemonade Mouth and Dog With A Blog, and Avan Jogia from Nickelodeon’s Victorious. Even Frankie Jonas, the younger brother of The Jonas Brothers and often referred to as the “Bonus Jonas,” has risen into the spotlight – becoming an overnight icon through his use of unhinged Gen-Z humor.
There’s no question that TikTok has had a momentous impact on the entertainment industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been an incredible time for artists and their teams to adapt to the flourishing social media landscape, evaluate what audiences look for in emerging entertainment, and develop strategies in order to peak consumer interest.
However, TikTok’s life after the pandemic is still unclear. It has simply been the medium of connection we’ve used during this time. Social media platforms come and go; appearing and disappearing at rapid rates.
But, if you are to take any piece of insight from this article, let it be this: the impact social media can have on entertainment, the phenomenon we’ve observed through this period and discussed through interviews, is incomparable.
That is here to stay.