The pressure to create music that goes viral on TikTok is such that even A-list artists are demanding it. In a TikTok posted Sunday, Halsey complained that her record label wouldn’t let her release a song unless they could “fake a viral moment” on the app.
“Basically I have a song that I love and want to release as soon as possible,” they wrote. “But my record label won’t let me. I’ve been in this industry for 8 years and have sold over 165 million records. and my record company says I can’t release it unless they can fake a viral moment on Tiktok.”
“Everything is marketing. and they do this to practically every artist these days. I just want to release music, man. i deserve better tbh. I’m tired,” they continued.
I am tired
♬ Original Soundtrack – Halsey
In recent years, many songs have climbed the charts due to TikTok’s virality, whether they’re new releases like Doja Cat’s “Say So” or old tracks that unexpectedly became a meme, like Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” Record labels inevitably tried to capitalize on this tactic, and TikTok stars like Bella Poarch got music deals. Meanwhile, music fans are becoming more suspicious of potential industry ventures on the app.
For example, the viral track “ABCDFU” has been accused of profiting from artificial virality (which the artist’s record label denies), and last year a band called Tramp Stamps was widely derided for courting a faux-punk for TikTok fame esthetic.
Halsey’s complaints speak to a sense of frustration among artists wanting to follow a more traditional path rather than relying on TikTok, particularly when it comes to faking a viral response. In a follow-up video, Halsey appears to reveal a private conversation about her new song’s PR strategy.
@halsey ♬ Original sound – Halsey
A person off-camera talks about posting the new track’s artwork on TikTok, while Halsey appears frustrated and noncommittal. “I just hate it,” they finally say.
“Oh, I know,” says the other person. “I hate it.”
A few hours later on Twitter, Halsey wrote, “I spoke to my label tonight after my Tiktok tantrum. They said, “Wow, the tiktok is going really strong!” I was like ok cool, so can I release my song now? They said, “We’ll see!” tell me again how I think it up.”
Explain that the video of the song has already been shot, Halsey added“I’m far too established to stir up something like this for no reason or resort to it as a marketing tactic, but I’m in too deep now so there’s no turning back.”
Obviously, it’s ironic that Halsey goes semi-viral by complaining about the pressure to go viral, but they’re certainly not alone. Reposting Halsey’s original TikTok on Twitter, a fan highlighted other artists who had similar feelings about being pressured to use TikTok, including Florence Welch and Tokio Hotel.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Halsey’s record label, Astralwerks, and its parent company, Universal Music, for comment.
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*Initial publication: May 23, 2022 7:06 am CDT
Gavia Baker-Whitelaw is a staff writer at the Daily Dot, covering geek culture and fandom. Specializing in science fiction films and superheroes, she also appears as a film and television critic on BBC radio. Elsewhere, she is the co-host of the pop culture podcast Overinvested. Follow her on Twitter: @Hello_Tailor
https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/halsey-tiktok-publicity-record-label/ Halsey Calls Record Label Over Demanding TikTok Ad