“TikTokification” refers to a new tendency to write songs with the specific aim of going viral on TikTokSolen Feyissa/Flickr

‘Mother’ by Meghan Trainor, ‘abcdefu’ by Gayle, ‘Toosie Slide’ by Drake; all these songs can be seen as products of “TikTokification”. But what is TikTokification and what are its implications for the music industry?

“TikTokification” refers to a new tendency to write songs with the specific aim of going viral on TikTok. This often means incorporating gimmicks or trends, for example spelling or counting as in the case of ‘abcdefu’. These gimmicks are often found in the chorus since this is usually the catchiest part of the song and can therefore be edited to fit the length of a TikTok video.

Gayle’s ‘abcdefu’ includes the gimmick of spellingGAYLE (YouTube)

In a video essay, Gabi Belle cited Lil Nas X’s chart-topping country-rap track ‘Old Town Road’ as the origin of “TikTokification”. An independent artist at the time, Lil Nas X rapidly rose to fame thanks to the song’s immense success on TikTok, which is attributed to his promotion of the track through trends that he created himself. This included the “Yee Yee Juice” trend, which involved people drinking “yee yee juice” that magically made them act like cowboys.

This success eventually led to multiple Grammy nominations, a record deal for his subsequent album, and his propulsion to superstardom. Clearly, TikTok’s potential to launch careers in the music industry is astronomical if the stars align and the song trends.

“By observing what is trending on TikTok, artists can pinpoint exactly how to craft a hit of their own”

Now that we’ve established the backdrop to TikTokification, an important question remains: is it a blessing or a curse? Realistically, while there are some advantages to this direction for the music industry, they are outweighed by the negative impacts it may have on artists.

Let’s start with an advantage of TikTokification, which is that you no longer have to be signed to a record label to write a hit song. By observing what is trending on TikTok, artists can pinpoint exactly how to craft a hit of their own.

Nevertheless, the issues with TikTokification begin once record labels get involved. If, like Lil Nas X, an artist writes a song which becomes TikTok famous and is offered a record deal, they often end up losing creative control. This is because, by providing a cheap and effective way to promote music, TikTok has exacerbated the existing problem of record labels focusing on what is marketable at the expense of creative freedom.

Halsey took to TikTok to criticise Capitol RecordsTwitter (@HalseyUpdates)

Consequently, certain artists have spoken out about the restrictions of record companies, with Halsey taking to TikTok to criticise her label Capitol Records. Despite having filmed a music video for the unreleased track, Halsey was told that her song ‘So Good’ could not be released without it going viral on TikTok. After a significant backlash from her fans, Capitol Records allowed Halsey to release the song according to their intended timeline. However, she has since parted ways with the company.


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Evidently, the pressure on artists to create TikTokified songs can result in fractious relationships with labels, as the idiosyncrasies of TikTok’s algorithm limit their freedom to write what they want to write. These expectations may dissuade musicians who are keen to enter the industry, as their sole purpose could become writing tracks aimed at TikTok.

Overall, TikTokification is a double-edged sword for the music industry. The potential to become a major player almost overnight is immensely beneficial for aspiring artists, but the emphasis of record companies on online trends can restrict creative freedom. It is these restrictions that make TikTokification detrimental to the music industry, despite the positives it can bring, as profit and marketability are put before creativity.