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Since its fall in April, the "Old Town Road" Lil Nas X is a success. The massive explosion of the song is at least in part due to TikTok: the social media platform that launches viral celebrities 15 seconds at a time, and what the writer Alyssa Bereznak called "the future of the world." 'music industry' in a recent article for The Ringer.
TikTok, which has more than Hundreds of millions of users, particularly popular among teens and young adults, are motivated by machine learning and, as Bereznak explained to NPR's Audie Cornish, viral "challenges" , often based on music. With the help of the mobile application, TikTok users watch and publish 15-second videos that incorporate and respond to a song piece. for example, in the "Old Town Road" challenge, videographers suddenly appear in cowboy attire as the rhythm begins.
Other emerging artists have also found a foothold in the TikTok format. In the videos set on the first 15 seconds of Supa Dupa Humble's "Steppin" song, users play with the "I do not know" opening lyrics until they arrive. to a visual typing line. "The Git Up", Blanco Brown's hit hit, is a country song with dance instructions (in the style of "Cha Cha Slide" or "Macarena") for lyrics.
"I think users are looking for dramatic high levels in a short period of time," Bereznak said. "You know, you only have 15 seconds to make your video compelling, so it's great for bubblegum-pop music and trap music, which often has very intense mood changes or loss. of time. "
While TikTok users design their videos based on the compelling songs on the platform, musicians also adapt their songs to the desired format. Supa Dupa Humble, for example, has already performed in Bereznak a piece of her upcoming song with a tone of old fixed line. "He himself imagined," Oh, it will be great for phone challenges. "It's the accessory that will appear in these videos," said Bereznak while paraphrasing the artist. .
Beyond motivating artists to write challenging songs, Bereznak suggests, TikTok brand – and can further influence – a shift to shorter and shorter music. "I think the problem here is that the music industry itself is moving away from the stories told in the albums and stories in the songs," Bereznak said. "Singles care a lot more about singles, because the culture of the playlists is very strong and they can choose the songs that they want to listen to … which means that the labels have to focus a little less about the overall artistic development of a singer or a composer, and focus more on these successful singles.
"The artists are very knowledgeable and they know that they have to rise above the noise," she says. "And in some cases, it means adapting to the latest social network that is very popular."
Bereznak believes that the musical phenomena born by TikTok can always be celebrated for the pleasure they inspire. "It may not be a music that touches you deep in your soul, but it definitely evokes a certain kind of emotion, and I think that's the most important thing with art, "she says. "It's very edifying, it can sometimes be in a bad mood, it makes you want to move, it makes you want to participate in a movement.If it's not good music, I do not know what that's it. "
Listen to the full interview at the audio link.
Rosalind Faulkner contributed to the digital version of this story.