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"Found it on the internet."- The Correlation Between Virality and Music Industry Success

The internet is one of my favorite places to find new, undiscovered music. With the help of new internet-enabled music technology like Spotify’s curated playlists or music trending on social media platforms like Tik Tok, music– and general information–can spread at unprecedented speeds. There are now more opportunities for artists to reach a broader audience. I even have a personal playlist with songs and artists I’ve enjoyed listening to that I was initially introduced to by my Tik Tok “For You Page”.

There is a direct correlation between virality on Tik Tok translating into real streams. Having a song used in a viral trend can be a legitimate jumping-off point for some artists to begin serious music careers. But it’s all about strategy. Wait too long to make your move, or oversaturate the space with the viral song, and artists with the potential to become stars may find themselves fading into the virtual abyss. As former CEO of Capitol Records, Jeff Vaughn, explained in an article with Rolling Stone, “The internet moves songs so fast that it can be difficult to put any foundation underneath the act if there wasn’t one there before.”

Yet, there are several artists who got their initial success from the internet with the promise to create sustainable careers.

One that I'm excited to watch? Lauren Spencer-Smith.

Making her first public appearance as a contestant on American Idol, Lauren Spencer-Smith made an outstanding first impression as an artist online while teasing her song "Fingers Crossed" on Tik Tok. The video, which was posted in November 0f 2021 and now has over 30 million views, features her singing along to a snippet of the song. Since its official release on January 5, 2022, "Fingers Crossed" has accumulated over 198 million streams to date. Spencer-Smith is not a one-hit-wonder. Her next song, "Flowers", has earned 60 million streams since its release in April of 2022.

One of Spencer-Smith's greatest strengths in her musical growth has been her consistency. Between the releases of "Fingers Crossed" and "Flowers", Lauren continued to post on her social media and interacted with those who showed her support online.

On top of Lauren's business strategy to take advantage of the popularity of "Fingers Crossed" by promoting the song across her own social media while also responding to fans' reactions to the song, many have connected to Lauren because of her relatability and vulnerability. Outside of creating content relating to her music career, like promoting her upcoming performances- including her recent appearance at Capital FM's Summertime Ball- Lauren also shares content about things she's personally going through. By doing this, Lauren is giving her fans more sustenance to grasp, while staying on-brand.

With the speed that the internet and trend cycles move, holding an audience's attention can appear to be an overwhelming and unachievable task at a first glance. But, by staying authentic and grounded, it is certainly possible to foster a growing music career with roots in the 'net.

Another exciting artist on the rise is Em Beihold. In August of 2021, Beihold posted a video of herself singing a snippet of her original song, "Numb Little Bug" on her Tik Tok page. The video currently has 1.6 million likes. The song was officially released on January 28, 2022, and has since been streamed over 142 million times. The momentum of her viral moment landed Beihold a record deal with Republic Records.

The popularity of Beihold's music is a true testament to the internet's impact on music.

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