Image Credit: Vox

News site Vox recently posted a video investigating viral TikTok songs and how the short-video platform is shaping the wider music industry.

The 22-minute video explores how artist JVKE and many other indie/DIY artists have used TikTok to start their music career, the importance of playlisting, and TikTok’s influence on the charts.

As this shift has enabled artists to find success on their own, we’re seeing many artists choose to turn down shady major record label deals in favour of releasing music independently. This has seen a fall in the market share of Spotify streams from major labels.

It’s no secret that TikTok is a virality machine. Songs get turned into sounds that can be used in any video, and if they gain enough traction they can catapult a musician into the pop culture stratosphere. But we wanted to know exactly what happens between a song going viral and an artist becoming a bonafide success. So in the fall of 2021, we partnered with data analysis website The Pudding figure it out.

Along the way, we discovered that using data to concretely answer this question is quite a challenge. Our process included creating dozens of custom data sets, careful fact-checking, and conversations with both hit songwriters and music industry executives to match data with real experiences.

After seven months of spreadsheets, data deep-dives, and interviews, we were able to follow the numbers to track what happens to artists after they go viral — and how the music industry has shapeshifted around TikTok. It turns out the app is completely revolutionizing the way record labels work, and giving artists more leverage than ever.


Many vulnerable artists are being enticed by the highest bidding major record label. Keep control of your music and up to 100% of the revenue generated by distributing your music independently through RouteNote, to TikTok, Spotify and more.