In a country where we lack adequate resources to track the commercial success of the music we consume, we are forced to rely on the popularity of songs in clubs, raves, and large gatherings to measure what a hit song is. However, there has been an alteration in our music consumption dynamics—thanks to a pandemic-ridden 2020. Locked in the comfort of our households with minimal physical interaction, we explored new ways to stay sane and entertained. Cue video-sharing platform; TikTok, the leading platform that heralds our obsessive meme culture.
The rise of song challenges and micro-influencing on TikTok
Over the past year, TikTok has become a crucial platform for popularizing songs in the Nigerian market, hence, developing into an essential promotional medium for musicians and labels. Ladipoe’s 2020 hit single ‘Know You’ opened our eyes to this innovation. His duet challenge racked up over 45 millions views, paving the way for digital strategists who needed fresh ideas to generate engagements for their products.
Simi followed suit, announcing her pregnancy with a music video for her pop single ‘Duduke’ and starting a challenge that focused on pregnant women. Trust non-pregnant Nigerians to hop on the challenge, caressing stuffed bellies and potbellies, earning Simi millions of views on the challenge and the coveted #1 spot across streaming platforms. Ever since, TikTok has opened the door to a spate of artists seeking to make their songs popular with fun challenges that convert into streams because listeners seek out these popular songs on streaming platforms.
Young content creators have since taken over the app, blowing off large video sharing platforms like Youtube and Instagram to become TikTok influencers with high value in the music market at the moment. Dance routines and fun challenges spring up daily from every corner of the social platform and this has become a major source of income for these young creators, as music marketers pay them hundreds of thousands of naira to help songs take off and spark up organic posts from fans. For instance, the Slow-mo era had us in such a chokehold and birthed a new movement with verified TikTok influencers like Soft Made It, Jenni Frank, Aji Anje and many more. This new market has experienced such a growth spurt that entire agencies and talent managers are now focused on song promotions and bridging the gap between digital strategists and these influencers.
TikTok as a stimulant for overnight success
While some new songs gain monumental popularity from TikTok and then chart on streaming platforms, some old songs take years to gain popularity on the app at random or with some push from music labels. Earlier in the year, Korede Bello’s Afropop tune ‘Do Like That’ made an organic comeback on TikTok after 5 years of its release and was certified gold in the United States of America on the 20th of September, 2021.
It goes without saying that TikTok virality has been a huge stimulant in Ckay’s recent groundbreaking success. While his 2019 hit single ‘Love Nwantiti’ had once gained popularity on the app, several misconceptions about the origin of the song had sprung up, leaving the budding artiste out of the spotlight. Nevertheless, this new wave of virality has earned Ckay over 15 million monthly listeners on Spotify, a #1 spot on the Shazam Global Charts and the First Solo African Song to chart on Billboard Top 100. This could not have come at a better time, as the world has opened up its ears to the beauty that is Afrobeats.
These days, up-and-coming artistes with little or no visibility have also found fame from this new hit-making platform with the help of strategic and intentional marketing. Case in study: Baby boy AV. Few months ago, they immersed the platform in interesting videos of fans making funny hand gestures that demonstrated the defiant Big Thug Boys lyrics and soon enough; the song was everywhere. AV catapulted to fame as he became one of the most sought after artistes at live shows, clubs and raves across Nigeria. When the song came on, you would find people gearing up to do the dance and hear the crowd rip open excitement when AV would do the dance during his performance. Seemingly, TikTok played a vital role in breaking one of the biggest Nigerian songs in 2021.
Producer and song-writer Mizzle became a social media sensation after posting several videos of himself recreating the music-making process of popular Afrobeats artists like Burnaboy, Wande Coal, Oxlade and more. His apt impressions of these artists gained him attention from music lovers and celebrities, and also earned him a verse from Oxlade, who was so mesmerized by his talents that he hit him up to work. He would go on to release an EP featuring ace producer Sarz, Afro-house queen Niniola, Oxlade and Wande Coal. While TikTok is now an essential promotional platform for new songs, some musicians and producers like Grammy award-winning producer Rexxie have integrated the social platform in their creative process, building steady growing fan bases for their products through funny videos and challenges that give their streams a boost when they release new music.
Like every promotional strategy, the use of micro influencers and challenges on TikTok is experimental and does not guarantee a hit or trend. The app algorithm makes it impossible to predict which songs will take off and this only means that musicians and music marketers cannot solely depend on TikTok ubiquity. Needless to say, TikTok is changing the music industry in Nigeria and result-seekers need to jump on the moving train and manipulate the fast-growing market to their favor.