How Junos’ TikTok star became famous during the pandemic


For Curtis Waters, becoming a musician has always been their plan.

Waters grew up in India, Germany, Calgary and the United States. He spent years thinking and working towards this goal. Therefore, when he finally became one of Canada’s greatest musicians-in the process won three nominations for the 2021 Juno Award-it was almost like fate.

But what he didn’t expect was that in the past century, perhaps the most dangerous period for artists, his dream came true: tapping in a pandemic.

“It feels like a strange dream,” the 21-year-old Waters explained in his mother’s bedroom in North Carolina. “its [like] A strange simulation, because I have been dreaming of doing it for so long, and then everything happened within a year. So now it is… I don’t know, it makes no sense. “

In fact, it happens often now-through TikTok.User discovered Waters’ song Astonishing Early 2020, and pair it with their own video, pushing it to millions of streams.

Waters is not the only one. Powfu (Isaiah Faber), 22, of Vancouver, and Tate McRae, 17, of Calgary, both emerged in 2020 based on the virality of TikTok. McRae’s Platinum Certification You ruined me first Ranked 16th on the Billboards Global 200 list, and attracted more than 630 million Spotify streams, and Powfu’s infinite humility Bed of death (coffee to your head) It reached a peak of 23 on the main Billboard leaderboard and is driving 1 billion streams.

With their launch, three-fifths of Junos’s “Breakthrough Artist” nominees this year started with TikTok—their music generated more than 7 million videos there.

Even during the pandemic, they get along well. Despite the COVID-19 closure, Junos President Allan Reid told CBC News that this year’s awards received more submissions than any year in the history of the festival.This shows that musicians have found another way to promote themselves and find audiences, avoiding traditional forms Heavy reliance on tour Keep it relevant.

But this is not the first time TikTok shines at an awards ceremony. Last year, rapper bbno$ (pronounced “baby no money”, real name Alex Gumuchian) and Ali Gatie both started through TikTok, and both were preparing to become breakthrough artists. They received more nominations in 2021, including Gatie’s album and Artist of the Year nomination.

‘It’s not that hard anymore’

In an interview with CBC, all five breakthrough artists produced by TikTok talked about the power of the app and its unique importance in building careers in an era when live music and touring performances were almost nonexistent. Not only that, this year’s breakthrough shows that the transformation of the music industry has actually democratized the road to success and made it easier to become famous.

“It’s just not that difficult anymore,” Waters said. “I can do it all: I can subscribe online and put my music there.”

“I can make my own. I can make my own videos… It seems people are afraid to try. But once you do it, like, it’s not impossible.”

Although most of this year’s nominees released or recorded their songs before being forced to change their plans, a new batch of performers proved that you can build your career from scratch on this platform.

Vancouver singer and songwriter Jessia is one of a group of young artists who have seen industry turmoil and turned to TikTok.

She said: “Due to the pandemic, I lost my job, which gave me a lot of time.” “After I spent so much time in my high school bedroom-because I moved home, I was just writing music ——I thought,’You know what, this needs to come out.'”

What needs to come out is a 20-second video—not a finished song, but an impromptu performance in her car.

“Well, I don’t know if this is trash or trash, but let’s go,” she said in the video, and then began to sing in a chorus that will become her new album I’m not pretty.

This video was a huge success on TikTok-it received more than 1 million views in a day, and now it has more than 11 million views. The songwriter and producer Elijah Woods noticed her, and he helped Jessia record and release the complete track within a week. Soon after, she was listed by Rolling Stone magazine as one of their fastest up-and-coming artists, and she was at the top of the Billboard Canadian Emerging Artists list for five consecutive weeks.

She said it all stems from social isolation that pushed her and her audience to the app-a trend that has been accelerating since TikTok merged with a similar American app Musical.ly in 2018. Started to achieve great success externally in China.

But in addition to new pathways to success, it also showcases the types of content that often attract artists seeking first-time listening and live streaming.

‘TikTok is a bit messy’

“Artists have broadened the concept of artist brands on social media to some extent,” explains art journalist and New York Times writer Zachary Small. “On Instagram, content is usually carefully planned, highly edited and streamlined.

“TikTok is a bit messy-the platform does reward artists who improvise speeches and presentations.”

Small stated that the growth of the app has crossed the boundaries between different art forms. Many visual artists who use TikTok to promote their work are struggling to fend off imitators and often find no way to truly monetize their popularity.

He said that in order to make money, many people accept payment from record companies to play certain songs in the background of their videos.

Succeed through relevant content

Gumuchian said that artists who want to attract record companies usually do the same, and they will reach out to influential people to show their songs. In an interview in May 2020, he stated that as the app’s popularity continues to increase, the market has begun to explode, and that an influential person has quoted $25,000 for his song.

At the same time, Jessia said she found success in another way-simply producing relevant, matched content.

Their experience highlights two aspects of TikTok’s success. On platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, artists directly promote the content they produce. On the other hand, TikTok rewards behind-the-scenes content curated specifically for the app.

But this dynamic may also accelerate another trend in music: the demise of traditional bands. In fact, in the history of the Juno Awards, for the first time this year, only one group with more than two members was nominated as a breakthrough group category-Vancouver’s four-piece band Peach Pit.

Vancouver’s Peach Pit is the only non-duo nominated for the 2021 Juno Award Breakthrough Group of the year. This is the first time in the history of the show. (Artist provided)

Although this year’s winner, Crown Lands, is a rock band, they and the three other nominees (R&B musician Manila Grey, folk rock singer 2Frères, and electronic artist Young Bombs) are all duo. Although these cosmetics have begun to dominate this category, they were still in the minority until a few years ago.

Adam Ezegelian of TikTok’s famous band Adam and the Metal Hawks said that he has witnessed this trend with his own eyes. Although they were also able to start producing viral content during the pandemic—eventually duet with Jack Black—Ezegelian said that getting the entire band to rise through the app was a unique challenge.

“One of them is a bit like a logistical challenge, [is] Ezegelian said, “If you watch our video, you just want to put four people in a vertical frame. You know, where do you put the drum?

Although they can release covers and performances created for TikTok almost every day, it is difficult to incorporate their own music into the video. Unlike pop and hip-hop, it turns out that rock music and improvisation are more difficult to adapt in a way that can be reposted and remixed.

“In this social media field, this is a necessary evil,” he said. “You don’t attract people by showing your original music and hope.”

When it comes to showing personality, moving from concerts to online puts the band at a disadvantage. He said that in live performances, the band has an advantage: “Four times the energy, four times the people.”

However, before they can return to the show, Ezegelian stated that they will have to use the app. Even after that, the influence TikTok has built over the past year may continue to exist.



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