Artists Worry For The Future Of Music Amid Pressure From Record Labels To Create ‘Viral’ TikTok Moments

Is TikTok destroying music?

Halsey, Charli XCX, Adele Cubankite / / TikTok

TikTok is one of the largest and fastest-growing social media platforms out right now.

Millions and millions of people go on TikTok every single day and scroll through their “For You Page” for hours on end, catching up on the latest trends, watching the most viral videos, and consuming all sorts of content that is popular among their tailored crowd.

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Record labels have set their eyes on the potential cash cow of the TikTok viral world and are allegedly forcing their talent to “fake” viral moments on the platform in order to bring in money and promotion for new songs, causing these artists to feel trapped.

Several popular female artists have accused their record labels of forcing them to go viral on TikTok.

“I’m tired,” reads the caption to Halsey’s TikTok that accuses their record label of forcing them to go viral on the platform before they’re allowed to release her new song.



"I've been in this industry for eight years and I've sold over 165 million records and my record company is saying I can't release it unless they can fake a viral moment on TikTok," they wrote in the video, which has ironically received over 8.4 million views in the last day.


"Everything is marketing," she adds towards the end of the video, "and they do this to basically every artist these days. I just wanna release music man. And I deserve better tbh. I'm tired."

They aren’t wrong about the accusation that record labels are doing this to every artist these days either.

There has been a significant rise in artists, who are mostly female, that have accused their labels of forcing them onto the platform to help promote their music and are unhappy with the decision.

A user on Twitter posted several screenshots of TikToks from FKA Twigs, Charli XCX, and Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine where they all accuse their labels of the same thing.


“It’s true all record labels ask for are TikToks and I got told off today for not making enough effort,” wrote FKA Twigs on her recently deleted post.

“When the label asks me to make my 8th TikTok of the week:” writes Charli XCX on her post, complaining that she doesn’t want to be there on TikTok but is, instead, forced.


“The label is begging me for ‘low fi tik toks’ so here you go. pls send help,” wrote Florence on her TikTok which still stands in a sea of growing complaints from musical artists.

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While some people argue that it’s a completely valid form of marketing and that there isn’t anything necessarily wrong with the label asking that from their artists, others are more concerned that it might affect the quality of the music.

The Twitter user complains about the labels that ask their artists to make “TikTok friendly songs” and accuses them of “just trying to do what others do to go viral and purposely [shorten] the length of songs… it’s so annoying when it’s affecting the quality of music.”


Last year, JoJo, singer of “Too Little Too Late,” tweeted asking for advice about something her label seemingly asked of her.

“Do you think ‘find a way to make your music go viral on tik tok’ is a fair /creative/ effective/ efficient marketing strategy proposal from a record label? Asking for a friend,” she tweeted, confirming that this is a strategy for some labels.


After Adele released the best-selling album worldwide for the year 2021 (and 2015 and 2011-2012), “30”, she did an interview with Zane Lowe where she talked about how her label asked her to make TikTok music.

“I’m like, ‘Tick-a-tock-a-who?’” she jokes. “They’re like ‘You know, we’ve really got to make sure these 14-year-olds know who you are’ and I’m like, ‘But they’ve all got mums!’”


“If everyone’s making music for the TikTok, who’s making the music for my generation?” she asks. “I will do that job gladly.”

Of course, skeptics will claim that all of these accusations are staged.

They think that these criticisms are the “viral moments” that the labels are asking for, but Halsey’s follow-up video includes a recording of an actual conversation between them and a label executive hat exposes the truth.



“Put that out — the song title, because it would be ‘Halsey - So Good’ and they would get the art on TikTok,” says the man in the audio, asking them if they’re okay with that and scheduling the release of the TikTok sometime this week before Wednesday.


“I just hate this,” Halsey says at the end of the TikTok that has now received over 4.5 million views. “It sucks.”

When it has an effect on the music that’s being created by the artist or the artist’s desire to create music, then it’s a problem, but if the artist wishes to post on TikTok “organically” then it shouldn’t be a problem.

However, it doesn’t seem like the latter is how a majority of artists feel considering the growing number of accusations against record labels.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is a writer who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics. Follow him on Twitter here.