Opinion: Should TikTok influencers be allowed to have music careers?

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These days, it can feel as if anyone, regardless of talent or skill level can achieve an impressive amount of fame on social media. Just ask Charli D’Amelio, who somehow gained 116 million followers in only 2 years, becoming the most popular user on the entire platform and is at the point where she gets nearly 4 million likes on a 15-second video of herself eating Takis. 

For anyone who is familiar with the mainstream video-sharing app TikTok or with popular TikTok influencers, it’s no surprise when a new song is released by one of these creators, complete with a music video, press content and of course, plenty of marketing on TikTok itself. But this isn’t a new idea. 

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For years, many famous YouTubers and internet personalities have attempted their own music careers. At this point, it almost feels like a natural progression or part of an influencer’s portfolio. After the music career, next is a book being published, then moving on to reality television and late-night shows, leaving the original platform behind. 

A couple of weeks ago in mid-May of 2021, TikTok star Bella Poarch, famous for her face zoom videos released her first single, which she had been teasing for several days on the app. While the song felt as if it were perfectly curated for TikTok with its bass drop and minimal instrumentals of the chorus as well as the catchy, danceable hooks, the song quickly took the internet by storm.

While there were inevitably haters of the song, as well as of Poarch herself, many people expressed their genuine shock, with many TikTok and YouTube comments conveying something along the lines of “finally a TikToker that can sing.” 

Many other TikTok influencers have attempted music careers, including Chase Hudson, Jaden Hossler and Loren Gray. While Dixie, D’Amelio’s older sister, has released a total of four singles (not including remixes, and there’s a distasteful amount of those), the reactions for her music, as well as Addison Rae’s single haven’t been as positive as the reaction Poarch received.  

And not just for D’Amelio and Rae, but for a vast majority of TikTok influencers who have released music, much of the public feedback accuses these influencers of “buying” their music careers or saying that the music industry is turning into “a joke.” Many of these songs are generally agreed upon to be bland and even badly made pop songs, or even jokes that are referred to. 

So this begs the question; should these influencers have music careers? Should influencers such as these be allowed by the music industry as a whole to create their careers in music out of nowhere with the sole intent of gaining fame?

While this is a loaded question, it can be seen in terms of what defines art. If something is a mere cash grab, created for the purpose of generating fame or making money, it was most likely not created with the intent of expression. And for many of these influencers spawning their music careers out of nowhere, the same can be said. 

So, the answer to the question previously established can ultimately be left open-ended. The answer is no, TikTokers shouldn’t be allowed to have music careers if one places the value of music on its creativity and artistry. But the answer is yes if one instead values the business side of the music industry. 

While this choice is yours, you might as well go check out some of the songs discussed. Who knows, there is a good chance that you might find yourself enjoying the pop-punk sound of Chase Hudson or the Melanie Martinez vibe of Bella Poarch.

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