By: Daniel Ramos
It’s clear that TikTok has become a vital stepping stone for many aspiring artists hoping to break into the music industry. Artists striving to get recognized by reputable record labels are now relying on the platform to make a name for themselves. The question is how? Following the trend of notable artists that have had success within the platform, we can surmise that most of them maintain their success by making sure they keep an active profile and interact with their fans. Although this seems easy enough, the question still stands, how do you get renowned A&R representatives and/or record labels to notice you? I wanted to further examine this question by interviewing two Berklee College of Music students that have caught the attention of major record labels.
Who is ROSIE and how did her life change with a 30 second original song?
ROSIE is a former Berklee College of Music student who, in recent months, has gained a vast following and increasing popularity, most notably for her original song “Never the 1”. This song that she posted on TikTok back in September of 2020 has now reached more than 17 million views and following that momentum, she has since been scouted and signed to Arista records. ROSIE’s Single “Never the 1” now has 7 million streams on Spotify and she intends to keep working to release more true and authentic music content in the near future.
Daniel Ramos: What made you want to post original music on TikTok?
ROSIE: I’ve always struggled with finding ways to promote myself as an artist seeing as my brand is what I call a “no brand, brand”—no filters, no makeup, 100% authentic content. So when I discovered the songwriters of TikTok, Anson Seabra, Abby Cates, Clinton Kane, etc., I was instantly inspired and knew I was in the right place, all I had to do was post videos of me in my element doing what I love most.
DR: Did you feel it was a platform that could get you noticed by industry professionals? Or did it start off as a hobby/fun?
R: I’ve never considered TikTok a hobby. The songwriting is fun, recording and editing the videos is fun, but I’ve always treated TikTok as a tool to help me gain exposure, grow my fan base, meet other artists, and network.
DR: Why TikTok and not other media platforms like Instagram or YouTube?
R: The way I see it, any new platform is a new opportunity for exposure and TikTok was new to me. Also, I joined around the time that it was supposedly shutting down, so everyone was really shooting their shot at going viral, me included, it was just [a] “why not try it?” moment.
DR: Have you released music before getting signed? If so, how does the experience of releasing music differentiate between the two? If not, has your experience releasing music with a signed label inspired your artistic choices?
R: Yes, I released music before I signed and yes, I’ve released music since getting signed. The difference now is, I have an entire team of professionals supporting me which means more connections, more exposure on streaming and social media platforms, more financial backing and more brains working together with the same goal in mind. Either way, it’s the same amount of commitment and hard work on my end. Signed or unsigned, you’re gonna have to grind.
DR: When did you realize that your TikTok platform could lead to more and potentially open a door for you in the industry? How did you feel? Did you expect anything to happen after you had blown up?
R: I never expected to get 17 million views on anything, but12 hours into going viral, I was getting attention from major labels, publishers and management companies. It felt great to blow up but I’m not one to celebrate my success. I just started grinding harder, working longer hours, and tried to ride the wave for as long as possible.
DR: Do you consider TikTok to be a vital part in the success of your career thus far?
R: For sure, but the team and I always say, it’s not the reason I’m successful, it just sped up my success by a couple years.
DR: Are there any suggestions or recommendations you would like to advise any aspiring artists hoping to catch their big break? Would you recommend TikTok as a platform to do so?
R: Yes, go for it on TikTok like i said before, why not? But in general, my advice is always the same. Number one, out-work everyone. Number two, put yourself out there in any way that you can. The right opportunities will find you.
DR: What’s next for you as a signed artist? Any new music we should be looking out for?
R: Yes! I’m releasing a duet with a really cool artist in a couple weeks, stay tuned! For now, I’m just writing and releasing music, but hopefully soon, I can tour when the world opens up.
Be sure to check out ROSIE’s new single “Retail Therapy” out on all streaming platforms and you can follow her on Instagram @Rosiemusicc and TikTok @Rosiemusicc
Who is Sri and how did her emotional covers landed her a record deal?
Sri is a current 4th-semester Berklee College of Music student studying Vocal Performance. Although the unfortunate circumstances of last year had students engaged in remote learning, Sri made the best of the situation by focusing on her music career using TikTok as her platform. Sri’s consistency in releasing emotionally delivering performances has allowed her to not only captivate major artists within TikTok but also to catch the attention of industry professionals. Sri now has 1 million followers on TikTok and is a member of the up and coming acapella group EARCANDY, signed by Republic Records. EARCANDY has worked with world renowned artists such as Jason Derulo, Scott Hoying, and Dodie Clark. Sri hopes to keep showing the strength in vulnerability with her angelic covers and plans to release some of her own music in the near future.
The following transcript is taken from an interview conducted by Berklee student Daniel Ramos and rising artist/EARCANDY member Sri. Sri will talk about her journey with TikTok, what it’s like working with Republic Records being a part of an exciting new acapella group, and how her experiences have opened up new opportunities for her in the music industry
Daniel Ramos: I’m Daniel Ramos and I am talking With Sri. Right now, Sri is signed to Republic Records and has over 1 million followers on TikTok, as well as collected over 15.4 million likes throughout her platform. So Sri, what made you want to post on TikTok in general?
Sri: Honestly, I just saw everyone around me posting on TikTok and thought that looks like a lot of fun—I want to be a part of that, how do I become a part of that—I didn’t even know about the singing community at the time. I was just posting singing videos and then when I started seeing that there was a singing community on TikTok, I was like oh, these are my people, which encouraged me to post more.
DR: That is so great to hear—being a part of a community that supports each other is very important, especially in these times. Did it start off as a hobby or fun for you or did you feel it was a platform that could get you noticed by industry professionals?
Sri: Oh, I never ever thought I would be able to meet any musicians through TikTok. To me, TikTok was just a platform to post what I like and sing and just be myself, and I had no idea that that would result in me being able to meet so many industry professionals, whether that’s just through being mutuals on TikTok or actually meeting them in real life. It’s crazy, like I’m friends with Scott Hoying from Pentatonix, Madison Beer, Meghan Trainor, Shawn Mendez. I can’t think of anyone else on the top of my head but just crazy talented artists that I never even thought would know who I was, and you know, it obviously just started as a hobby and kind of has turned into my gateway into the music industry, which is kind of cool.
DR: That’s incredible that you’ve been able to network and connect with so many incredible artists through TikTok. Now, was there anything or anyone that motivated or inspired you to release music on TikTok?
Sri: Not really, it was just me. Whenever I got the dorm to myself, I would just prop my phone up and start singing, and then as I started gaining followers, they started motivating me to post more often. Like just seeing the fact that they were so excited every time I posted or [how] they would react so happy made me want to post more often.
DR: It’s great that your fans are right behind you and I can tell they truly care about you and your artistry. So do you feel a pressure to live up to certain expectations of your fans and does this differ from when you started on TikTok?
Sri: That’s such a good question. When I started on TikTok, I had no sense of, like, I need to be professional or I need to watch what I say or be a certain kind of way, and as I started growing on TikTok and it was happening so quickly—like hundreds of thousands of followers were coming in a month and now I compose myself when I go live—there are things that I can’t talk about and I do feel like sometimes I don’t get to be just me online. But there’s always a price that comes with being online and having a big social media following. You have to be professional to a certain extent, you have to.
DR: Yeah definitely, public appearance is important in the industry and aspiring artists should be aware of that. So you are signed to Republic Records. How has the process been releasing music with them?
Sri: Getting signed to Republic and releasing music…the process was crazy. It was very different from what the process is for a lot [of] other artists because we were doing it during a global pandemic, so it was a lot of fun but a lot of pressure. We had deadlines, I had to balance school, [keep myself] healthy and also working on the album and arranging, but I know it would have been different if it was under different circumstances. But then again, I don’t think EARCANDY would have existed if it weren’t for this pandemic.
DR: So speaking of EARCANDY, the famous a capella group from TikTok, how did you guys get noticed by Republic and what was that experience like?
Sri: So we were signed because Republic wanted to make EARCANDY the main holiday feature of 2020 and we were like, of course. So that’s why we were signed. We were reached out to by Tyler Arnold, who is amazing and is our rep there, and he wanted us to be the main holiday feature and we ended up being signed, so now we are signed artists.
DR: That’s amazing, how this group that just formerly started only last year has built so much momentum to get signed by Republic Records. So do you Consider TikTok to be a vital part in the success of your career thus far?
Sri: I think it’s the only thing that has gotten me to where I am today. I obviously have a good work ethic and I do work very hard and very passionately and if it weren’t for the app of TikTok, all of this would not be here. I believed it would happen one day for me but not now, and I think it’s really cool that I got to get signed to the biggest record label probably in the world at 19. I am so grateful that it’s even a thing and it’s because of TikTok. It is also because of my hard work but it’s also because the platform even exists that all of this happened.
DR: Yeah, I think you are not alone when saying that TikTok has changed lives. I want to ask you, are there any suggestions or recommendations you would like to advise any aspiring artists hoping to catch their big break?
Sri: Anytime anyone comes to me and asks how do I get started in the music industry, or even anything, I always recommend TikTok because the beauty of it is that anyone can go viral in it—you don’t have to biggest name in the industry, you don’t have to be the biggest celebrity in Hollywood, anyone can go viral. You can be nobody and become somebody because of it.
You can follow Sri on instagram @Sriiramesh and on TikTok @Sri
Although the answer may not appear to be as black and white as one would expect, it does prove that TikTok has consistently been able to produce a platform in which Major Labels can scout talent and get unknown artists an opportunity within the industry. Although these are just two examples of proven success within the app, the real focus lies in the perseverance of the artist to find innovative ways to capture the attention of viewers and the consistency it will take to keep going so in due time, you get your 30 second breakthrough.