Why so many TikTokers are trying to start music careers

Georgina Smith
Dixie D'Amelio and Addison Rae singing into microphones

From Dixie D’Amelio to Addison Rae, Bella Poarch, and more, countless TikTok stars are trying to bridge the gap between ‘influencer’ and ‘pop star.’ But why are even the most unlikely social media stars attempting to launch a music career?

For many of the most popular influencers out there right now, TikTok was their starting point. The short-form video app and its huge userbase have been the catalyst for stars like Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae to become prominent figures in the public eye, launching them into global fame.

Many of these popular creators became renowned for their lip-syncing and dance videos — a staple of the app since the Musical.ly days — and for plenty of them, that is the content they continue to make.

However, over the past couple of years, fans have been noticing that these popular TikTokers are increasingly making efforts to develop a music career — a trend that has not been entirely welcomed by many.

Dixie D’Amelio released her first song ‘Be Happy’ in June 2020, and has put out several tracks since then including her most recent song ‘The Real Thing’ which was released on October 15.

Dixie sitting down in a music video
Dixie has released multiple tracks, each one getting a mixed reception online.

Addison Rae released her debut song ‘Obsessed’ in March 2021, and then, Bella Poarch, popular for her viral ‘head bobbing’ dance videos, went on to release her hugely popular song ‘Build a B*tch’ in May.

Although Poarch’s track went on to be a huge success, with over 300 million YouTube hits at the time of writing, she received a wave of backlash when she initially announced the song.

“Bruh they all wanna become singers,” one comment with over 300,000 likes reads, another writing, “why are TikTokers making music now?”

Comments on Bella Poarch's TikTok about her music

It’s clearly a popular sentiment and marks the growing resentment among TikTok fans towards influencers who try to start music careers. But why are even the most unlikely stars attempting to break into the industry?

Internet fame, in general, is temporary, but nothing is more fleeting and uncertain than TikTok fame. The stars themselves are likely to be the first to admit that they don’t know why they blew up to such an extent, and virality on TikTok is so random fire that it’s impossible to predict their growth (or their decline) with any degree of certainty.

Obviously from a career or business perspective, this doesn’t have much longevity, and for that reason, these influencers with an overnight following have to convert their temporary TikTok fame into something more likely to last.

The music industry is a go-to route for many influencers for a number of reasons. The first is that you don’t necessarily have to be amazing at writing or even singing to become an artist. Thanks to the wonders of post-production, it’s not hard to shoe-horn an influencer who would perhaps otherwise have never attempted music into the role of a pop star.

Another reason the music pathway is such a great choice for this particular generation of influencers is that TikTok is now so intrinsically linked with the music industry. The app has the power to make songs go viral in a big way out of the blue, and with almost every video having a song at least in the background, it’s quite literally the glue that holds the app together.

If someone with a huge pre-existing following releases a song that blows up internally within that person’s fan base, the chances are that it will start to leak out onto the rest of the platform, giving it a good chance of going viral on a global scale.

Bella Poarch in her music video
‘Build a B*tch’ has been a huge hit, especially on TikTok.

But finally, and perhaps most importantly, TikTokers are trying to break into the music industry to garner legitimacy.

Outside of the TikTok bubble, it’s no secret that people generally look down on those who are famous on the app for doing viral dances and lip-syncing. Therefore, it’s reasonable that these influencers are looking for a way to convert their image into something more palatable for the mainstream media.

Nessa Barrett and Jaden Hossler performed on both Jimmy Kimmel Live and the Ellen Show, but were presented as musicians rather than just ‘TikTok stars,’ and even commenters seemed to agree that they were managing to change their image.

Even Addison Rae’s performance of ‘Obsessed’ on Jimmy Fallon gave her the opportunity to appear as something more than just an influencer.

Addison rae in her music video for 'Obsessed'
‘Obsessed’ is Addison’s first single.

Of course, within this group of influencers-turned-musicians, there are inevitable differences in talent, and while some stars like Nessa are getting praised for their genuine vocal skills, others are being called out by those who feel their sudden focus on a music career is disingenuous and forced.

There will no doubt be more viral creators to try and join the wave of influencers starting music careers in the near future, but whether this proves to be a good move for their career longevity remains to be seen.

About The Author

Georgina was formerly an entertainment writer for Dexerto. She covered all aspects of influencer culture on TikTok and more, including creators such as Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae. She also wrote about hit reality shows such as Love Island and Below Deck.