TikTok is revolutionizing the music industry

Artists can experience breakthrough success


Justin Surgent / Daily Collegian

By Jessica Schramm, Collegian Correspondent

TikTok has become an influential platform for all industries since launching in 2017. The revolutionary app has more than 2 billion downloads on the Apple App Store, the most ever, and over 600 million active users worldwide. It should be no surprise TikTok is a hub for small creators trying to make it big in the entertainment industry. The app can launch an artist’s career with one viral video. TikTok has shifted the scales and made access to the music industry more accessible forsmall creators.

Here is a list of five breakthrough TikTok artists:

Olivia Rodrigo

There is perhaps no better example of how TikTok can turn an artist into an overnight sensation than Olivia Rodrigo. Before her musical success, Rodrigo began as a minor star on the Disney+ show, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” Her solo music began gaining traction when she started posting songs on Instagram.

On Jan. 8, 2021, she released her first single, “Driver’s License,” which quickly took over TikTok’s For You page and has been transformed into viral sounds on the app ever since. The song has been used in over 1.5 million videos over the past nine months. “Driver’s License” spent eight weeks at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100, one of seven singles to debut at number one. Since then, she has released her debut album “Sour,” and almost every song has been used in various trends on TikTok.

Though Rodrigo was a small celebrity prior to her debut single, TikTok undoubtedly helped start her on the path of becoming this decade’s Taylor Swift.

Song Recommendations:“drivers license,”“good 4 u,” “jealousy, jealousy”

Tai Verdes

Tai Verdes, who went by the stage name Tylersemicolon, struggled to enter the music industry after several rejections from shows like “The Voice” and “American Idol.”

Before May 2020, his soon-to-be hit “Stuck In The Middle” had less than 2,000 streams. After uploading a TikTok video of himself singing his new song in the car, Verdes’ views on the platform went from a few thousand to almost half a million. He used his account as a modern diary, following the process of releasing his album “TV” on May 20, 2021.

His recent videos document many firsts in his career: concerts, Lollapalooza performances, live interviews and more. With 12.1 million monthly Spotify listeners, Verdes credits his success this past year to TikTok and actively encourages other young artists to use the platform to promote their music.

Song Recommendations:“Stuck In The Middle,” “DRUGS,” “A-O-K”

Peter McPoland

Before TikTok, Peter McPoland had a meager following from playing with his high school band. In April 2020, he began his career on TikTok posting videos of himself singing original songs.

McPoland’s humble beginnings eventually paid off. His March 13, 2021 video announcing the release of his single “Romeo & Juliet” received half a million likes and thousands of comments praising his undeniable talents. Over the past year and a half, he has become verified on the platform and received a total of 8.4 million likes. One month later, “Romeo & Juliet” entered Spotify’s Viral 50 chart. His recent content promotes his new single, “Sh-t Show” and its corresponding music video. The single was released on Sep. 3, 2021 and already has over 2 million streams on Spotify.

McPoland shows no signs of slowing down. He continues to post on TikTok, sharing new songs and teasing fans about a potential debut album.

Song Recommendations: “Sh-t Show,” “Romeo & Juliet,” “Prom Queen”

Abigail Barlow

If you enjoy musicals, check out Abigail Barlow. Her viral video in January featured an original song based on the Emmy nominated Netflix series “Bridgerton.”

Throughout the year, she and her musical partner, Emily Bear, shared their songs on TikTok, and each video receives thousands of views and comments. They were interviewed by various publishers about their project, including BBC Newsand Playbill.

On Sep. 10, 2021, they released “The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical,” a 15-song musical adaptation of the show. Those who enjoyed Barlow’s content on TikTok can listen to these songs on all streaming platforms. Along with musical theater, Barlow has been releasing pop songs since 2017. She actively posts on TikTok, creating music in both the pop and musical theater genres.

Song Recommendations: “Burn for You,”“Ocean Away,” “Heartbreak Hotel”


Longtime TikTok users have likely seen, and possibly tried to learn, the addicting TikTok dance to “Supalonely” by Benee, created in February 2020 by the TikTok user @Zoifishh.

“Supalonely” took over the platform as popular creators like Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae and Avani Gregg participated in the trend. Users everywhere were obsessed with this dance and song.

The trend resulted in a 400 percent increase in streams of “Supalonely,” and the song entered the Billboard Top 100 in late March 2020, four months after its release. The young New Zealander had a small following on Soundcloud, but the song’s success on TikTok took her career to the next level. She currently has just under 7 million monthly Spotify listeners and has since made her television debut, performing the song on the Tonight Show this June.

Song Recommendations: “Supalonely” (ft. Gus Dapperton),“Glitter,” “Afterlife”

Jessica Schramm can be reached at [email protected]