How Songs Go Viral – The Cowl


Explore the impact of social media on song popularity

by: Grace Whitman ’22 Staff A&E


In today’s society, everything we do is driven by social media in one way or another. Likewise, social media has had a huge impact on the music industry when it comes to promoting songs and how artists interact with fans.

Social media has also changed the way music is produced, distributed and sold through streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. The personal bond between artists and fans has been a direct source of increased music sales in recent years. According to BuzzAngle’s 2018 Music Consumption Report, on-demand audio stream consumption increased 41.8% to reach 534.6 billion streams in 2018.

Plus, social media has the power to make a song an overnight sensation through shares on Instagram stories, retweets, or viral memes. Drake’s “In My Feelings” was hugely popular in 2018, when the viral dance challenge “In My Feelings” hit the internet. #inmyfeelingschallenge on Instagram has over 790,000 posts attached to it. The worldwide movement consisted of people getting out of their cars to dance to the song. Odell Beckham Jr., Ryan Seacrest, Will Smith and countless other highly regarded celebrities have posted their version of the “In My Feelings” challenge on their individual accounts.

This trend spurred Drake’s song to n ° 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 10 weeks. “In My Feelings” broke the streaming record for most streams in a single week with 116.2 million streams, and the viral trend on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram was to blame.

Record companies no longer have to invest the same amount of money in promotions, as artists’ interactions with fans on the Internet can be even more effective than traditional radio promotions.

Drake Scorpion square black and white album cover


One of 2019’s biggest hits, Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road”, didn’t explode on the radio waves, but on the video-sharing app, TikTok. On the app, millions of creators used the song as the soundtrack for their video, which made “Old Town Road” a viral hit. In an interview with Time magazine, Lil Nas X said, “When TikTok hit it, almost every day since, the feeds have increased. I credit them a lot.

Viral trends in social media have boosted songs without the artist spending a dime on promotion, as artists and record labels strategically use the power of social media to increase streams and revenue.

Another example of this was Lizzo’s song “Truth Hurts”. Her song was released on September 19, 2017, but it took her almost two years to reach number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on September 3, 2019. “Just took a DNA test,” the opening line of her song went viral in the Netflix movie Something awesome, enticing millions to stream her song and propelling it to the top of the charts.

The ability to share songs, albums and playlists on social media platforms has completely changed the music industry.


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