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The "Tik Tok Effect" And Its Impact On The Discovery Of An Artist

Updated: Nov 18, 2021


Background


In a number of previous IMA reports, we have been mentioning the increasing importance and influence of Tik Tok within the music industry. It is no breaking news that it became one of the most influential platforms in music trendsetting and music discovery, whereby an unknown piece of music can “skyrocket” in terms of streams after becoming viral on Tik Tok. We really wanted to get some sort of measure of this effect, and especially so with respect to Spotify, mainly asking questions about the extent to which an artist's song, album, and rest of catalog can get streamed and discovered if one of the tracks is gaining traction on Tik Tok. We have decided that the best way to illustrate the effect and its effects is through a case study. While checking Tik Tok’s new item count from the US region, we have discovered that a song called "Cloud 9" and released by Beach Bunny has been steadily increasing week on week in terms of the percentage of content created with this particular song. As a result, we have decided to track the song and see what was the subsequent effect on the: 1. The album that the song is part of on Spotify. 2. The whole catalog/profile of the artist on Spotify.



“Cloud 9” Progression


To start with we have looked at the Tik Tok’s item count for the song and have identified a clear uptrend from around mid to late February, which turns into a steep spike in growth by the first week of March.

The next step was to compare Tik Tok’s growth dynamics with those of Spotify's platform. Firstly we have checked the popularity index, which is a Spotify - generated, normalized value based on several factors such as playlist reach and stream count. It can be clearly seen that suddenly popularity starts increasing from mid-February and further jumps by the beginning of March, showing an almost identical growth when compared to Tik Tok, already suggesting that there was a significant amount of people discovering it in that fashion.


In order to solidify this assumption and also partially address causality, we have also looked at the Shazam statistic from the same exact period. Shazam count follows exactly the same pattern: by mid-February the song starts gaining traction on Tik Tok and more people are starting to Shazam it, whereas by the first week of March we see the same “explosion” in the number of Shazams, once again portraying that the more viral it became on Tik Tok the more people started discovering it through Shazam and landing on the artist’s Spotify.


The next question we’ve asked ourselves is if the so-called Tik Tok effect has impacted the editorial side of the Spotify platform in the same way it has impacted daily users. The answer is a bold yes. If you look at the graph you can see that by the first week of March, during the virality explosion, the track has been added to six editorial playlists (listed on the visual below). This merely confirms the power that Tik Tok has as a platform, as an increase in the popularity has been followed by editorial placements, allowing the song to further exhibit increasing growth rates.




Progression of other songs from the album


The next step was to check the overall effect on other songs from the same album during the same period in order to see how strongly Tik Tok virality impacted the discovery of other artists' music. Below you can see Spotify's popularity index and playlist evolution data for four other songs from the same album, as well as a Shazam count and Tik Tok item count for the other two. The result is very similar as we can see the same exact uptrend and spike within the same time period, where the popularity of the songs and an overall number of playlists, including some editorials that added it, has increased in the same way and manner.


  1. April : Popularity Index and Playlist Reach


2. Honeymoon: Popularity Index and Playlist Reach


3. Dream Boy: Popularity Index and Playlist Reach



4. Prom Queen: Popularity Index and Playlist Reach





5. Sports: Popularity Index and Shazam Counts



6. Painkiller: Spotify Popularity Index and Tik Tok Item Count




Progression of the artist’s Spotify profile

As the data has confirmed our assumptions we have moved on to assess the overall impact on the profile of the artist. At first, we looked at the number of new followers, which amounted to 20K new followers between February 20th and March 10th, an impressive average of 1,11K new followers per day.


The next statistic is the number of monthly listeners through the same period. As you can see there were approximately 200K new monthly listeners from February 27th. Beach Bunny’s popularity index also jumped, once again portraying the same exact trend.




While being almost close to making conclusions we have finally looked at Spotify’s Fan Conversion Rate, which is basically a measure of how effectively does the artist capture his audience, and is calculated by dividing the number of Spotify Followers by Spotify Monthly Listeners. The reasoning behind it is that not all followers are in fact monthly listeners, allowing us to see how captivating the artist’s music is during the same period of time. As can be seen from the graph the conversion for the period was a positive 12,35%, showing us that after the increase in Tik Tok popularity, the artist has exhibited a higher fan conversion rate than ever before.


Conclusion

These findings coupled with the observed Shazam dynamics clearly suggest that the Tik Tok effect is indeed one of the most powerful discovery tools in the world of the music industry today. The essential finding of this research is that active Tik Tok users are definitely not just passive listeners on Spotify; they love to discover and listen to new music. This is clearly shown once and once again through the sharp increases in the follower count, other songs’ popularity index, and shazaming & fan conversion rate. The next question we need to ask ourselves is whether there is a pattern or an approach that maximises the chances of the song progression on the Tik Tok platform. If so, it would mark the most powerful music promotion strategy out there.




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