It’s no secret that the music business looks a lot different than it did a decade ago.
With the monetization of apps like TikTok and YouTube, artists have the ability to go viral overnight, get their music out to the masses in an instant, and in some cases, become rich while they’re at it. Can you blame artists for using these platforms? Absolutely not, because they’re just taking advantage of the opportunities in front of them.
Hell, we recently saw this with Oliver Anthony, who went viral with his song “Rich Men North of Richmond” overnight, and then was filling up venues shortly thereafter. And while it wasn’t overnight, Zach Bryan blew up on social media in a rather organic way, building a large audience while he was still in the Navy. Now, he’s one of the biggest acts in all of music.
So, we can all think about the positives of getting music out there, and some great examples of how social media has helped to grow music superstars in a hurry, however well-known record executive, Jimmy Iovine, says it’s not all good for the music world.
If you aren’t too familiar with Iovine, he’s one of the most famous record executives in the music business. He is the co-founder of Interscope Records, has produced records for artists like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, U2, Stevie Nicks and more, and he is also the co-founder (with Dr. Dre) of Beats Electronics, which eventually sold to Apple Music for billions.
So all of that to say, Jimmy knows a little something about the music business.
He recently sat down for an interview with Consequence,where he discussed his concerns with artists getting famous through stuff like TikTok, while also weighing in on the emergence of AI being incorporated in songwriting.
He told the outlet:
“I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but I think AI is going to be massive in songwriting on many levels. One, on a very basic level, if somebody is stuck and you want to experiment and get an idea. Two, is that not everyone, but too many people today are making records for TikTok.
They used to make records for radio, but now it’s TikTok. That’s why all these pop records sound exactly the same. So if you’re making records like that, making records with this formula, then you’re going to start seeing big hits written and recorded with AI.
I didn’t say ‘great’ hits, I said ‘big’ hits. Because they’re following formulas… fame has replaced great. Artists are making so much money in so many different places, which is fantastic, but after they have a hit record, they can earn a lot of money on Instagram and all this stuff.
I feel that a lot of people, a lot of artists, not all, but a lot of artists are taking their foot off the gas in the record making category. And that’s affecting the quality of the work. And I think you’re seeing that in a lot of different genres right now.”
It’s hard to argue with that… we’ve seen a number of “TikTok artists” emerge in the country music space over the past few years, and they’re seeing some astonishing success. Artists who have never played a show in their life, never stepped on a stage, barely written more than a handful of songs and they’re amassing very large social media audiences. And large social media audiences can turn into money without ever really selling any tickets.
It remains to be seen if this strategy can turn into long term success, but it’s clear that the music landscape it changing quickly. Although for the likes of Oliver Anthony, Zach Bryan, and others… who says you can have viral fame… and greatness?
Oliver has made it clear on numerous occasions that it’s NOT about the fame,but rather, he’d like to use his viral success to help other artists get exposed, and to help people in his community. He’s also promised to keep ticket prices low, even canceling a show over some confusion with the booking.
It’s definitely awesome to see indie artists achieving grassroots success that wasn’t really possible 25 years ago: Tyler Childers, Cody Jinks, Whiskey Myers, Turnpike, to name a few. We just gotta hope they stay true to their roots, and let the music do the talking… not the algorithms.