TikTok wouldn’t be much as fun without music. A cluster of music-oriented startups have taken note, selling independent musicians access to online production tools and marketplaces that connect them with video performers who can help their songs go viral.
Among the 52 startups in our creator economy database, five are focused on music, and they’ve raised an estimated $350 million in total funding. Atlanta-based Music Breakr connects social media influencers with artists to spread their music. Rapchat, a Columbus, Ohio company, offers free use of an online recording studio to aspiring rappers who want to make music on their phones, along with a more advanced subscription product. Splice charges musicians for access to a library of royalty-free samples and music production tools for a monthly fee.
Driving the swell of activity is the relative ease of making music on a smartphone phone and the explosion in popularity of TikTok and copycats like YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels. These short videos, often set to music, can make a little-known artist an overnight hit with fans—well before any record label takes notice. Songs that become part of popular dance trends or challenges have propelled emerging musicians such as Lil Nas X and Doja Cat into sudden sensations.