For a while, TikTok challenges were like a magic box that generated many surprising hit songs. Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” became the symbol of the TikTok era as it set the longest record of ranking first on the Billboard “Hot 100 Chart” for 19 weeks. Very few people would say that Arizona Zervas’ “ROXANNE” would have entered “The Hot 100 Chart” without the help of TikTok. TikTok challenges was the driving force behind Jason Derulo coming in contact with Jawsh 685’s “Laxed - Siren Beat” which was later recreated into the No. 1 hit song “Savage Love”. Now, TikTok challenges seem to be an inevitable yet enjoyable rite of passage for top artists’ new songs.

Another common feature of recent hits is snippets. By definition, a snippet is a piece of simple and fragmentary information or conversation. Think of it as an artist releasing a small part of their new song on social media or TV  shows. Olivia Rodrigo’s “Driver’s License” is the most successful example. Although she was well-known through the Disney Channel, her “Drivers License” was an overwhelming success as soon as it was released, despite her being a new artist. On Instagram, she released some of the early versions of “Drivers License” in various forms over the course of several months. Many people believed this song was about her real love life and drew quite the attention. It is unknown whether Olivia Rodrigo intended all of this from the beginning. She may have expressed her feelings in the form of short melodies and lyrics, rather than pictures and a few lines of text. However,, one thing is clear: the snippet of “Drivers License,” at some point, had become a part of the strategy leading to the big debut.

This strategy is becoming widely accepted in different forms. Lil Nas X inserted part of “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” in a Super Bowl advertisement this year. Taylor Swift unveiled a teaser of “You All Over Me,” which is a part of her “Fearless” re-recording project, on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Polo G revealed the production of “Rapstar” almost as if broadcasting it live. We have already seen cases where snippets and the reaction of fans influence some artists to change the lyrics and melody of the song and decide which song is to be released as a single.

Some call it a “preview” and some call it a “leak.” The former emphasizes an open attitude towards the creative process and communication with the fans. The latter draws attention to the publicity this would naturally bring about. If you're a K-pop fan, you might be familiar with a more formal form, called a “teaser.” Either way, the effect is the same. It is a means to garner interest and exhibit great explosive power over long periods of time within the rapidly revolving content market. There are many reasons why snippets will become more important than TikTok Challenges. Audiences don't have to wait for music to be released officially, labels don't have to be dependent on the trends of a specific platform, and they can plan ahead and act with intention. This is the age of streaming, and almost all new songs are pouring out on the same day and at the same time every week. Where your song ranks on a weekly playlist - that introduces new songs - is a matter of survival beyond one’s pride. Will you just pray for your new song to be a big hit? Or will you produce predictable results?


Social media as a music platform

When Clubhouse was first introduced, one of the key concerns of musicians was the possibility of making a social media platform centered on spoken conversations with no recording features as a place for live performances or previews of new songs. Instagram's video feature and the new feature that YouTube is currently testing to display a part of the uploaded video like a trailer are all suitable for a snippet release. Not all of them were intended to be used as they are now, but ultimately, they are. Music is the background of social media platforms, and sometimes, it is becoming difficult to say that it receives benefits in the form of virality.

Article. Seongdeok Seo(Music Critic)
Design. Yurim Jeon