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  • Ella Jacobs

From FYP to Center Stage: Breakout Artist D4vd Shows How TikTok is Changing the Music Industry

Source: Hope Obadan, NME

When self-taught David Burke started making music in his bedroom at 17-year old, he never imagined one of those songs going viral and landing him on Billboard’s Hot 100. Burke, who uses stage name “d4vd,” started making original music to put in the background of his Twitch gaming streams without getting copyrighted. The artist uploaded a few songs to soundcloud but didn’t start picking up traction before downloading TikTok, a popular entertainment app that is rapidly changing the music industry one small artist at a time.

Whereas most people imagine needing to spend thousands of dollars on recording equipment to make a hit, D4vd used an app on his phone, “BandLab” and recorded his hit songs in his bedroom closet. D4vd’s breakout song, emotion-charged track titled “Romantic Homicide” has reached over half a million streams on Spotify where d4vd himself has amassed over 30 million monthly listeners.

A few years ago, an artist wanting to make it big would have to rely on a record-label picking them up, often signing away ownership rights to their original music. Even stars who shot to stardom using Youtube, sometimes referred to as TikTok’s predecessor, would have to be signed to a record label for one of their videos to reach viral status. With the third-largest user numbers of any social media app, TikTok has allowed artists like d4vd who were virtually unknown a year ago to top the charts with long-time industry stars like Miley Cyrus, The Weekend, and Ariana Grande.

Music shared on TikTok has become something users can participate in and use to tell their own stories, rather than something users listen to on their own. The app groups videos under one audio clip and encourages users to interact with songs in a way no other social media app has been able to achieve. Users frequently duet songs, lip-sync, make up a dance, add their own verse, make fan edits, or start trends with a song they like. Tiktok collected data that found 75% of users say they’ve discovered new artists through TikTok and 63% of users heard new music they hadn’t heard before through the app.

Additionally, TikTok users have started to have more of a say in what music is bringing in money to streaming platforms. Music industry analyst Tatiana Cirisano found that 40% of TikTok users pay a monthly subscription for music compared to 25% of the general population.

Source: d4vd - YouTube

TikTok is also changing the way artists write their songs with the app’s 15-60 second time limit for videos causing artists to focus on a few lines that will gain attention from listeners and result in a viral trend. D4vd’s most widely shared lines from his song “Romantic Homicide” being “In the back of my mind, you died, and I didn’t even cry” have been put in the background of users sharing their breakup stories or lamenting the deaths of their favorite fictional movie character. With the fast and ever-moving pace of contemporary society, TikTok has artist’s creating catchy elevator pitches of their songs in hope it sticks in the heads of users and becomes a viral trend.

This has resulted in frustration for some artists such as Steve Lacy, another artist whose song, “Bad Habit” became a viral sensation on TikTok, when he realized while performing live that no one knew the words to his song besides its few most famous lines. Another issue for music creators on TikTok is that they can never stop producing output or else they’ll be forgotten about, putting a lot of pressure on them to constantly create new videos hoping to appear on people’s “For You” pages.

After his recent viral songs, D4vd’s music plans for the future span far beyond his bedroom closet. He recently signed with Darkroom Records, which produces music for Billie Eilish and Holly Humberstone, but he still plans on recording songs from his phone at home when he’s away from the studio. In the past few months he’s released a flurry of new songs like “Here With Me,” “Placebo Effect,” “WORTHLESS,” and “Sleep Well,” the first being another viral TikTok hit but with more of a beachy, romantic feel, and the latter resembling the darker, emo sound of his breakout hit. Recently the now 18-year old announced a tour of Europe followed by a U.S. tour, happening this summer.



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