TikTok: the app revolutionising rock music into a new digital age

TikTok, the social and creative media platform, is having a monumental effect on the music industry. New data reveals that thanks to the app, rock music is now reaching new heights of popularity.


For the music fans on TikTok, it plays a pivotal role in the way they discover new music. Moreover, through its numerous technical algorithms that cater the app’s home feed exactly to the user’s interests, the platform  has become a highly successful digital tastemaker.


TikTok stands as a creative community for artists and fans alike, whilst transcending user’s technical ability and setting aside generational differences. Over the last few years, TikTok has had a vital influence on the genre of rock music, and has steered new artists, even the classic rock artists of yesteryear, into top chart positions.

So what is TikTok and how does it work?

If you’re new to the world of TikTok and haven’t heard much about it outside of Gen Z circles, then here’s everything you need to know about this new-age phenomenon. Launched in 2014, under the former title of Musical.ly by Chinese entrepreneurs Alex Zhu and Luyu Yang, the platform grew extremely popular in just a few short years. It was soon acquired by Beijing-based media and tech company ByteDance in 2017, who combined Musical.ly with their similarly popular, music-based platform, TikTok. 


Originally, Musical.ly was well-known for its videos of users lip-syncing along to famous tracks. Now, in its evolved form, the app is considered a prime breeding ground for all sorts of creative endeavours, including musical or social collaborations, dancing, comedy and memes. It has also created space for discussion on a sea of topics such as spirituality, psychotherapy and cultural / social issues.


Users are allowed 15 seconds to record their video content, and can even embellish their creations with sound effects, filters and background music. Because of this, Tiktok still holds on firmly to its musical roots.


TikTok is now home to 689 million monthly active users worldwide and has been downloaded over 2 billion times on the App Store and Google Play. When it comes to the daily time spent on the app, users spend an average of 52 minutes per day consuming or creating content, making it one of the largest – and most influential – platforms around today.


Monthly active users worldwide


App Store and Google Play downloads


Average time a user spends on TikTok per day

How is TikTok impacting rock music?

Thanks to TikTok, rock music has been pushed even closer to the forefront of popular culture. In the year of 2020 alone, the genre accumulated over 22 million video creations on the platform, and saw rock artists even dominating the charts.


For instance, after alternative artists Machine Gun Kelly and Yungblud each launched a profile on the platform, they both saw huge success on their albums released last year. MGK’s album Tickets To My Downfall debuted at the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100, and YungBlud’s Weird! also managed to reach the same position in the UK. 


Rock titans Bring Me The Horizon also experienced a similar impact, with their song  Can You Feel My Heart going viral and becoming the UK’s most popular Rock/Metal song in 2021. The song also racked up an outstanding 36.5K in terms of TikTok creations and video views. The track soon re-entered the UK Rock & Metal Singles charts, ranking #1 on Billboard's Hard Rock Streaming Songs, with fans downloading and streaming the track in even larger numbers.


Probably one of the best examples of TikTok’s unique influential power coming into play is the reappearance of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 classic Dreams in the Official Singles Chart Top 40 for the first time in 43 years. After TikTok user Nathan Apodaca used the track behind his humorous video of him skateboarding blissfully whilst drinking Ocean Spray cranberry juice, the song discovered a new lease of life. The video had such an impact on the platform that it even encouraged drummer Mick Fleetwood and vocalist Stevie Nicks to launch their own profiles to create parodies of the video. Through moments like this, it’s clear TikTok is an incredible system to use when it comes to making artistic personas more accessible to listeners and even rejuvenating older tracks.

Why is TikTok so influential?

TikTok is a powerful tool for both the consumer and artist – combining the right song with an appealing video has the power to boost your profile into the stratosphere. On top of that, establishing your own relatable personal identity aside from the artistic persona on the platform can really help any artist create a tight community of loyal fans, making them feel closer to the musician they adore. For the creator/consumer, new music can be found easily and quickly through their own personalised curated feed, courtesy of TikTok algorithms. It’s also of course, an extremely fun and simple app to use, and provides hours of quality entertainment whilst reflecting the lives of real people.


Executive David Mogendorff, who previously worked for YouTube and MTV,  says that he had never seen in his earlier places of employment “the level of change and impact that TikTok is driving” and states that TikTok’s impact on the music industry to be “transformational”. Adding more insight behind why the platform has had such an effect, Mogendorff puts it down to two things. Firstly, the platform’s versatility and easy-to-use structure, claiming “anyone can do it” (in other words, artists and creators don’t need a tech-savvy videography team to make meaningful and impactful videos). And secondly, the fact music is such an integral part of the app. Mogendorff suggests that because of this, users can be fans in a “new way”.


He also goes on to reveal how exactly the team at TikTok come into play in pushing new trends – such as rock music – forward, stating that TikTok have "got quite an established way of working with the industry. Everything we do is evolving all the time as the way artists and users use the platform grows. But we keep a really, really close eye on what users are doing, and trends around content creation and around specific sounds." He continues "we have a brilliant playlist ecosystem that you can find on the sounds page when creating videos, and we use that as much as we can, and if we see a trend growing, what we can do is help get it in front of more people". 

An interview with TikTik executive David Mogendorff on the power of TikTok and its effect on rock music and the music industry.

How to be popular on TikTok as a rock artist

To find out how to jump on the ever-heightening rock wave from an artist’s perspective, we speak to vocalist and TikTok influencer Cassyette, who has already accumulated over 1 million followers since joining the app in 2019. On her account, you’ll find her collaborating with other TikTok musicians, creating outstanding covers and using the app to promote her own music, including her recent new single, Dear Goth. We ask Cassyette what her top tips are on the best ways to use the app effectively as a musician: I would say spend time on it and don’t feel the pressure that you get from other apps – like Instagram –  feeling like you have to post all the time. Make things that you really like, and things that are relevant to you. Spend time on it and make it cool because that's how you reach more people...Just spend time on it and make content that means something to you”.

An interview with rock musician and TikTok influencer Cassyette

The top 10 rock artists to follow on TikTok in 2021

Here’s a list of the best TikTok rock artists in the game right now. From older artists such as shock-rocker Alice Cooper who creates down-to-earth witty videos following his expansive career, to the budding and brilliant guitarist Kiki Wong – don’t miss out on these outstanding profiles.

Check out some of Cassyette's TikTok content below: