Jack Johnson can thank an anonymous shoplifter for a sudden surge in feeds for his 2009 hit “Upside Down”.
Two weeks ago, TikToker H1T1 bought a flat panel TV for a bargain at a second-hand market, only to find that it had apparently been stolen from an Arby’s and could only display the menu screen of the restaurant – a chain of events he lamented in a video, using âUpside Downâ as the background music. The video quickly garnered 3.5 million likes, and Arby’s corporate account even replied, âWe were looking for this! ï¸ ð. â Soon, another 50,000 TikTokers made reaction videos and made memes out of them, giving the song millions of new plays – and reintroducing âUpside Downâ as an earworm for a new generation. Its flows and sales more than doubled last week, according to analytics provider Alpha Data.
The new hit of âUpside Downâ is a weird, out-of-pocket moment for TikTok, which the music industry has increasingly relied on to help smash new hits from Lil Nas X, Doja Cat and Saweetie. But it’s not uncommon either: Old hits are going viral again, and TikTok’s own music team is working to amplify them.
Corey Sheridan, Head of Music Partnerships and Content Operations at TikTok, said Rolling stone in May that he saw music catalogs as the next big untapped market that the app could fuel his hit machine. In the first weeks of the Covid-19 quarantine, Simple Plan’s âI’m Just a Kidâ suddenly achieved platinum certification 15 years after its debut when it was used in a huge TikTok trend. The same brutal re-explosion happened with L’Trimm’s “Cars With the Boom” in 1988 and of course with Lizzo’s “Truth Hurts” in 2017.
âThe catalog is my bread and butter,â says Danny Gillick, senior director of music content and label partnerships at TikTok. âThere are so many opportunities for all these legacy labels, even for songs that are out of cycle to have another life. There is a whole treasure chest of these earworms that I grew up with that you can now see having a second life.
The application’s music team kept their word. In the second half of 2020, TikTok revitalized some old hits in a fast-firing clip.
Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” is the best-known case. The song surfaced at number two on the Rolling stone 100 cards from an Ocean Spray wave, re-entering commercial cards for the first time in over 40 years. Elsewhere, indie group Mother Mother has landed on the Rolling stone Artist 500 and Breakthrough 25 charts although he hasn’t released music in over two years, when alt-TikTok videos on personal identity popularized three songs from the band’s 2008 album O my heart. Borns’ 2014 platinum single “Electric Love,” saw song sales increase by about 114% from late July to early August after the song made its way into rom-com-style TikToks, and its streams increased dramatically. ‘about 52%.
After a song from the catalog starts to pick up steam on TikTok, the chain of events that follows is surprisingly predictable: the song becomes an app-wide obsession, big, influential creators with tens of millions of followers start using it, and TikTok features the song on its sound page. Then, inevitably, the the original performers of the song will create TikTok accounts and join the trend – a move that appeals to the music team at TikTok because of its potential to turn these musicians into frequent, high-profile content creators.
Often, TikTok works directly with artists to bring them into the app. All Simple Plan members joined in to participate in Mick Fleetwood and Stevie Nicks both created accounts and posted videos for “Dreams”, which ended up in a national TikTok commercial, and Aly and AJ created an account in late October after their 2007 track “Potential Breakup Song” made its way into over a million videos. The Black Eyed Peas posted several election-themed videos about a revamped ‘Where’s the Love’, which went viral on TikTok last week.
That’s not to say that TikTok’s re-virality guarantees sales. L’Trimm’s âCars With The Boomâ has been featured on nearly three million TikToks, including by influencers like Charli D’Amelio – but it has only nominally shifted the sales needle, Alpha Data shows. (The renewed attention, however, encouraged L’Trimm to put together a new compilation album.) The same can be said about Harry Belafonte’s 1961 “Jump in the Line”, which went viral in August 2019. Although it was featured in around 217,000 TikToks, song sales have failed. increased significantly.
Still, the success is encouraging for artists looking to build on older songs and shows a platform for more timeless hits to present to younger audiences. Internally, TikTok recognizes music catalogs as a relatively untapped opportunity on the app for artists and labels to market their old work. Young artists are giving new versions to classic tunes and getting strong reactions from the TikTok community, said Gillick – highlighting the Regard remix of Jay Sean’s “Ride It” and “ILY (I Love You Baby) Surf Mesa “, in which the lyrics are taken from Frankie Valli’s 1967 hit” Can’t Take My Eyes Off You “.
Independent musician Ritt Momney recently signed a recording deal after his cover of Corrine Bailey Rae’s “Put Your Records On” sparked a wave of dreamy midlife videos.
âThere are ways for legacy labels to share their catalog with developing artists and have them reinterpret their work and release it that way,â says Gillick. âIt’s a whole world of opportunities.