The Rise of TikTok Musicians

by Neve Kelley

When evaluating how you feel in the present, be sure to question whether your heart feels full.

TikTok has completely changed the music industry. Individual artists now have the potential for songs to blow up and reach millions of people—a phenomenon rarely encountered before the age of TikTok. Songs can gain popularity naturally on the app, even if they are not mainstream—a user casually scrolling through TikTok may hear striking lyrics or the intense chorus of a song and be inclined to seek out that artist’s music beyond TikTok. Users have access to the music of thousands of musicians and the app has now become a go-to for those hoping to discover new artists. According to the Music Network, nearly 75% of TikTok users in the U.S. say they discovered new artists on the platform, and 63% found music they had not heard anywhere else. One video at a time, these musicians are quickly rising to fame. 

Teen artist Olivia Rodrigo’s career has skyrocketed thanks to TikTok. By now, I’m sure we have all heard her song “Driver’s License,” which went viral on TikTok and immediately boosted her song to the top of the charts. Many TikTok users began using her song as the background sound for their videos, and the rest is history. According to Teen Vogue, the song has broken numerous records. “Driver’s License” earned the title of biggest weekly streaming debut for any song on Spotify chart history, as well as reaching the number one spot on iTunes. This made Rodrigo the first artist to rank number one on the iTunes (a music purchase and download service) and Apple Music (a music streaming service) charts simultaneously. Since her release of “Driver’s License” on January 8th, 2021, Rodrigo has released her debut album “SOUR,” which enjoyed a significant amount of time atop the Billboard album chart (The New York Times). It’s no secret that Olivia is an incredible artist, and we must thank TikTok for allowing millions to appreciate and marvel at that talent.

Another artist catapulting into the spotlight is Peter McPoland. McPoland started writing and recording songs at a young age, and his band even won Battle of the Bands in high school (Wasserman Music). After high school, he moved to Rhode Island, where he began posting original songs and covers on his TikTok account. His songs “Romeo and Juliet” and “(Here’s to the) Prom Queen” gained a lot of traction on the app, giving McPoland his start. His videos quickly grew in popularity, as did his songs on Spotify. McPoland now has over 1.5 million monthly listeners, and that number is only growing. Since having recently signed with Columbia Records, we can expect to hear much more from McPoland soon.

Olivia Rodrigo and Peter McPoland are proof of the power TikTok has over the music industry. With one viral video, an artist’s career can be completely changed. Without TikTok, these gifted artists may have gone completely unnoticed. Lucky for us, we get to experience their incredible talents.

Similar artists worth checking out:

  Lizzie McAlpine

  Grace Victoria 

  Ritt Momney

  Nathanie Ngu (Nathanie)

  Tai Verdes