Dec. 9, 2021

TikTok Changed Music, So What Comes Next?

See you in the musical metaverse!

Nora and Scott dive into the music business, present and future. Alyssa Bereznak, a writer and podcaster covering tech and culture at The Ringer tells Nora how TikTok transformed the industry. Then, Kate Lindsay, a writer, editor and cofounder of Embedded, a newsletter all about the internet and influencers, talks to Scott about what’s next for artists in the digital space.


Nora Ali: We are in a new era of the music industry: viral TikTok fame, which might rack up millions of listeners for an artist instantaneously, and can even lead to record deals. In fact, in the past year, TikTok has partnered up with all three major record companies: Sony Music, Warner Music, and Universal Music. Alyssa Bereznak, a writer and podcaster who covers tech and culture at The Ringer, joins us today to discuss how TikTok became the music industry's current leader. And then because things are changing so rapidly, we're going to look ahead at the digital platforms that will shape music after TikTok. We'll hear from writer and editor Kate Lindsay, co-founder of Embedded, a newsletter all about the internet and influencers. From Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, the podcast that gives you a front row seat to candid conversations with some of the biggest names in business, asking them the questions you wish you could ask. I'm your host, Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm your other host, Scott Rogowsky. Nora and I are here for your ears, bringing you stories of how business shapes our lives today and into the future. And for that lovely person who left that wonderful one-star review, if you want me to sound like a game show parody, I can. This one's for you. Now, let's get down to business. Nora, how you doing?

Nora Ali: Me? I'm great. How are you doing?

Scott Rogowsky: I'm loving life. I'm loving this podcast. Nora, you are loving this episode in particular because it finally happened. It all boiled down to this. You've been planting the seeds for three months.

Nora Ali: I know.

Scott Rogowsky: And now it's the episode devoted to TikTok.

Nora Ali: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Scott Rogowsky: Your beloved, your betrothed.

Nora Ali: My betrothed. Not just TikTok, but TikTok and music. The things I love so much.

Scott Rogowsky: How excited were you going into this one? What did you want to hear most from Alyssa?

Nora Ali: I was most excited just to hear how artists are taking advantage of TikTok. The fact that you can go viral in just a second. And these artists are creating songs on TikTok, where you will tease maybe five to 10 to 15 seconds of a new song you're working on as an artist, your followers, the people whose For You page you show up on, they go crazy for it. They ask for more, you make the whole song, you put it on Spotify and then you have four million streams. It's this amazing place where the community feels like they're contributing to making songs. I know you're not a huge TikTok person, Scott, but I don't know. Has music ever come up for you in the TikTok lane?

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah, I saw this TikTok video, it featured the music of this like cool new band, Fleetwood Mac. And I don't know. I guess they've like a bunch of stuff out there, but I've been listening and it's like, holy cow. I mean, these guys can rock. And yeah, I wouldn't have heard about them if not for TikTok.

Nora Ali: This is very relevant. On the day of this recording, I looked up my Spotify Wrapped.

Scott Rogowsky: A Spotify Wrapped. What is-

Nora Ali: Don't tell me you don't know what that is. You know what that is, right?

Scott Rogowsky: [Mumbling] Is this like a...

Nora Ali: Scott, this is Spotify's summary. It's very data driven, very commercialized, but it's their way of showing you what you've listened to all year.

Scott Rogowsky: Really?

Nora Ali: And very cool infographics. Yes.

Scott Rogowsky: Why are there so many tracks from Shaquille O'Neal, Shaq Diesel album?

Nora Ali: I don't know.

Scott Rogowsky: Where ya at, Shaq? I'm right here. Yeah, I have four tracks from the Shaq Diesel record. I have some Kanye, couple Dua Lipa's. Why? Levitating, I guess I do like that song.

Nora Ali: That's on my top list too. Clearly, we both have a lot to learn about the music industry.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah.

Nora Ali: So thankfully we talked to a couple of experts and we should mention, Scott, that we did something a little different with today's episode, got a little sassy.

Scott Rogowsky: We did.

Nora Ali: We decided to divide and conquer. I spoke with Alyssa Bereznak. And Scott, you chatted with Kate Lindsay. So we're going to start in the present and take a look at the music business and TikTok. Before we jump ahead to the future with your conversation, Scott, that you had with Kate. So here first is my convo with Alyssa Bereznak.

Nora Ali: Alyssa, you wrote this really compelling piece called “Memes Are The New Pop Stars: How TikTok Became the Future of the Music Industry.” It is worth noting that this was published in the summer of 2019. And TikTok obviously has grown by magnitude since then. But to provide the context for those of our listeners who might not be on TikTok, for those few holdouts, how does a song become viral on the app?

Alyssa Bereznak: Okay. So one of the great features about TikTok and one of the reasons I think it's so successful is that, songs can be shared between users in the same way that on Twitter a photo can go viral, a snippet of audio can go viral. And so people use those as soundtracks to videos that they make just regular users on TikTok. And in the early days of TikTok, after it had transformed from its previous form as musically into like what we now know as the TikTok app, there were mostly young people on that app and they were lip-syncing to songs like big pop songs by people like Cardi B. I'm like trying to think of the cool new Gen Z person and-

Nora Ali: Megan Thee Stallion.

Alyssa Bereznak: This is showing my age...yeah, Megan Thee Stallion. Exactly. Thank you.

Nora Ali: Doja Cat.

Alyssa Bereznak: Doja Cat.

Nora Ali: Look at us trying to be cool.

Alyssa Bereznak: Yes, once again, I am a millennial.

Nora Ali: Same. It's quite clear.

Alyssa Bereznak: So as the culture of the app began to build, songs began to drive things that people refer to as challenges on the app. So it was not just lip-syncing along to a song. It was maybe there's a dance. Maybe there's some sort of like clever costume change or like shift in view or a skit that you play out. There's so many versions of this over the years, but ultimately that made it really, really easy for a song to take on a life of its own and relatively unknown songs to be discovered. And that has major effects. Obviously, Lil Nas X is the first big example of this. And we've seen how his career has flourished, but “Old Town Road,” his like first song, he used to be just like a 20-year-old kid who was pairing memes with his songs to try and get them noticed on the internet. And by doing that with “Old Town Road” on TikTok, he has been able to catapult himself to pop star. And he's like nominated for Grammys in 2022 and is on his second album. So, that is how it happened. And now, it's completely transformed the entire music landscape.

Nora Ali: Yeah, and it's the nature of TikTok as an app itself, right? You wrote about this one-two punch where it's both discovery and engagement, encouraged now TikTok where you're getting content before you even follow a single human being. And it's very curated for you. So what are some of those key features of the app that make it so easy to go viral generally? Like this song that recently blew up on the platform?

Alyssa Bereznak: So, in general, TikTok doesn't have the same algorithmic priority as something like an Instagram feed or even a Facebook feed. You don't need to have friends on the app in order for the app to populate content for you. It does that by itself through paying like laser-focused attention to your activity on the app and then deciding, you like this, you like that, I'm going to serve you more videos of cats. I'm going to serve you weird, weird videos. I'm going to serve you-

Nora Ali: Like they're very niche. It gets very specific.

Alyssa Bereznak: Yeah, I actually read an article. I think it was a personal essay about someone who was like, this app realized that I was bi before I did. That is how powerful the algorithm can be in recognizing what you like, what you hover on. So, that's one of the major things. And then it just also offers a lot of opportunity for collaboration. It has duets, it's like a retweet, but in video form, it's a way to boost a video. I mentioned in my story that users are the new A&R departments and publicity departments of record labels because they are commenting, they're engaging, they're sending it to their friends. Like once you see something on TikTok, your instinct, especially as a Gen Z-level user is not just to like, let it blow by you. It's like, how do I bring this into my circle? Or at least like, I want to comment and start a little community underneath this.

Nora Ali: So, to what extent do users and fans now have more urgency?

Alyssa Bereznak: Yeah, I think it's really fascinating because in a way maybe for the first time ever, in this digital age, the songs are almost divorced from the people who sing them. Like, I don't think anyone really knew what Lil Nas X looked like when “Old Town Road” blew up. Like it took a bit.

Nora Ali: Yeah.

Alyssa Bereznak: It took like them making a music video. He's had to work really hard to sort of create these iconic looks and make sure that he's relevant online. So, it's just creating much more fame like from the top down. Everyone can sort of rejoice in the process. Though, I've spoken to a lot of artists who have found it difficult. Cookieekawaii, who was in a piece that I wrote, she had a hit on TikTok and no one really associated that hit with her vibe or her look. And she was like searching for ways to sort of make her mark on these things. It's especially difficult if you're like an unknown artist and the track is ripped from like a YouTube sound or something like that. And then you have to sort of like track to down how it became viral and sort of knock on TikTok's door and say, "Can you make this an official track so we can start like counting how much it's been played? And how do I capitalize on this as an artist?" So I think that it can be really exciting for someone who's there and well positioned to make the most of their exposure, like Lil Nas X, who like seems to have been raised by the internet. And then it's a little bit more difficult for people who are caught off guard and might not necessarily have the resources or know the exact path to take when it comes to capitalizing on their song ongoing viral.

Nora Ali: So there's the good and the bad where anybody can go viral, your song can blow up, but your song can blow up kind of without you where people don't even associate you as the artist with the song. So what is the best case scenario then? What have you seen in your reporting of artists whose songs have gone viral, translates into streams on Spotify, it translates into actual compensation? What is the good that can come out of this for artists?

Alyssa Bereznak: Doja Cat is another great example. Her song, Say So, became its own viral dance. It didn't have to be that complicated. But her music in general is really well positioned to do well on TikTok anyway. Her personality is troll-y in a way, like I know she's like had her fair share of controversies on weird forums and stuff. She is a little bit of someone who likes to shock and who's just bombastic in the way that they communicate things in general in the way they dress, all of these things. I think she had that like one song that I think it was called, “Bitch, I'm A Cow” or something like that.

Nora Ali: Yeah.

Alyssa Bereznak: Like, “Moo, Bitch, I'm A Cow.” And like, obviously that was a joke to get our attention and it kind of worked, but then she was able to like slide in there and give us actual music and demonstrate her artistry. And that turned out to make her a Grammy-nominated artist. And Olivia Rodrigo, another one, all these people have been nominated for Grammys either for singles or albums of the year. Olivia Rodrigo just made a really, really good song that spoke to the teenage experience. There wasn't that much gimmick to what she was doing. She wasn't like pairing her stuff with memes or anything, but she was extremely talented and became a representative voice of her generation and was able to ride that wave. I think that the commonality between all these three people is, they very quickly got a team behind them and had already sort of been working to navigate the entertainment system beforehand, as opposed to someone who maybe is just like part of a local music scene, who might really feel like they're flailing. Olivia Rodrigo is like herself, a child actress, who's like on the High School Musical show. So she obviously was well equipped to handle it. Doja Cat had been in the industry a good amount before her music started blowing up on TikTok. And Lil Nas X is just like an internet kid and like had the President of Columbia records in his DMs after “Old Town.” I mean, he's a phenomenon. So all of those people are great examples of sort of making the most of it. And I don't think that this means music is going to change and it's only going to be like made to please us in 15 second spurts. But everyone has to be a little bit of a marketer when it comes to being a musician these days.

Nora Ali: What are some of the common facets that make a song good for TikTok? My hypothesis, for me, it's songs that can allow you to make good transitions whether it's an outfit change or something changes like a beat drop or something like that. That's what I get a lot on my For You page.

Alyssa Bereznak: Yeah, I think that's really smart. I actually interviewed like a teen about this once and his number one thing was like, it just has to be epic. Epic? Can I get some more details? But yeah, some like beat drops sort of drastic changes in music, things to be able to lip sync to, if there's like a double meaning in a lyric or just like the ability to sort of act out the lyrics. Even something like “I'm a Savage,” the Megan Thee Stallion song that Beyonce jumped on and became a huge TikTok sensation, like the lyrics themselves led themselves to almost a step-by-step dance move type situation. In the same way, a long time ago, we were all doing the Macarena. Like we didn't need TikTok to understand that we could all do a dance and it would be viral.

Nora Ali: All right. On that note, we are going to take a very quick break. But when we come back, we'll discuss how TikTok has further altered the nature of the music industry. We'll be right back.


Nora Ali: So Alyssa, over the course of the last couple of years, TikTok has signed deals with all three major record companies: Sony Music, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group. So how do these partnerships benefit the artist and what do the record labels get out of it?

Alyssa Bereznak: I think if you're a young person getting signed by this label, it's hopefully in some way a guarantee that you will be more than a viral hit, which is always the fear. I think it's one of the main fears that penetrate young people who are trying to make it creatively on the internet. Like how do I keep this sustainable? The record labels get a bunch of different things. So if you sign a TikTok artist, you automatically have like a conduit to the viral internet in some ways. Like if you sign enough of these people, you kind of have a cast of characters who might even collaborate with older artists. One of the ways that record labels are using TikTok as a marketing tool these days is actually by taking like older catalogs and introducing them to Gen Z through famous influencers. So, I've spoken to plenty of influencers who get paid by record labels to use a specific song in their video, maybe create a dance to it. And it's all in the vein of like, "Hey, Gen Z. What about Mariah Carey? Like, do you know about Mariah Carey?"

Nora Ali: My gosh, that makes me so sad.

Alyssa Bereznak: I know. Again, it's just like, all of this makes me feel so old. I feel like I'm literally disintegrating from age. But there is also this question of like, maybe this is a shift in the record industry. Maybe it is going to be more of a hits business because ultimately record labels have more power over a streaming platforms because they own all the classics. Like most of the music that's still streamed today is stuff like, “Don't Stop Believing.” It's like the general world is not that curious or creative. Like the giant population, there are a couple of hits each year and those are what stay in the public's imagination. So, in some ways, it's sort of like an investment in like, is “Old Town Road” the song of the year this year? Is that going to stick in people's nostalgic sort of like, I remember when I was young. I remember when the internet did this to the point where they're like having that person signed and like having that as part of your catalog is a long-term investment. I think that's definitely something that record labels are considering when they're like, I might sign this person.

Nora Ali: What does this mean then for the Billboard 100 artists? Or the artists we've traditionally discovered through those kinds of lists, like the Mariah Careys of the world, do you find that they are having to adopt to this hit mentality?

Alyssa Bereznak: I have to be careful here because we had the longest song ever on the top 100.

Nora Ali: Taylor Swift.

Alyssa Bereznak: Yeah, “All Too Well,” which I can recite like every single of it to you. But I think that ultimately it's about narrative. Like when it comes to what makes the Hot 100, like obviously there's going to be one hit wonders always, like the catchiness of a track can sometimes just breakthrough to colossal levels and just like rise above the platforms. But someone like Taylor Swift continues to hit the top 100 with more unconventional stuff, just because her fan base, it's about community and it's about like redemption. And it's very rare now that, unless you're a super established artist and you can just make the top 100 through your fan base, that you're not seeing activity on social media first.

Nora Ali: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Alyssa Bereznak: Like you're not seeing this happening on TikTok or in some cases, YouTube, or that they're like being shared or discovered on Spotify. And someone like Billie Eilish, she started her fan base early, early, early on YouTube. Even Justin Bieber did that. So, it's always about community. And it's just about like where that community ends up being. Right now, it's on TikTok.

Nora Ali: Overall, what does this all mean for artists' compensation, which is continually a staking point? We've learned a lot more about out some of these deals with Taylor Swift, especially being very transparent about it. Do artists have more power when it comes to compensation at the end of the day?

Alyssa Bereznak: I think it's a question of whether or not they want to just be a straight musician or they want to be a personality. Because if you're a straight musician, who's just like, I would like to play my saxophone and I'm going to build up a small group of people who like listening to me play saxophone and they're going to stream my music on Spotify. Like you're going to make pennies on the dollar unless you become like the most famous saxophonist in the world. But if you go viral on an app and then you are willing to sort of offer your personality up in the form of like sponsored content, modeling, you're going to make some merch for people that like is coordinated to whatever thing that you blew up for. That's going to give you immediately a little bit of a financial stronghold that you can use to offer more flexibility in your future as an artist. So I think like in that sense, that's empowering. It's also like a little bit sad because it used to be that musicians were like, fuck the man. I'm never going to use my coolest song in an ad. And nowadays it's like, yeah, that's my dream.

Nora Ali: But of course. Yes.

Alyssa Bereznak: So it gives you an idea of how things have shifted and how anyone's able to really be an artist. Like that blends a certain level of legitimacy, both financial and via publicity, that can be really valuable to an artist building their career. And I think everyone understands its holistic now. It's not just like I'm going to stand on stage and play some songs for you as fans. Like I'm going to give you who I am.

Nora Ali: Alyssa, this has been a fascinating conversation. Alyssa Bereznak is a writer and podcaster who covers tech and culture at The Ringer. Alyssa, thanks again for the conversation.

Alyssa Bereznak: Thanks for having me.

Nora Ali: And after a quick break, we're looking ahead to the future of music and new what digital platforms, even beyond TikTok. Scott's conversation with writer and editor Kate Lindsay, is up next.


Scott Rogowsky:

Kate Lindsay, good to have you here. Earlier in this episode we discussed TikTok's takeover of the music industry. But, as we all know well, the music industry is constantly changing and we want to learn about what's next, which is something you explored recently in an interview for your newsletter, Embedded. You spoke with Talya Elitzer?

Kate Lindsay: Yes.

Scott Rogowsky: Who is a music executive and co-founder of Godmode. First of all, what is Godmode? Why is it a great name and why is it significant now?

Kate Lindsay: Yeah, I can't speak to the greatness of the name. I unfortunately had no role in that, but in terms of speaking to them, my editor, Nick Catucci, had worked with them in the past. And in our early conversations with them, they were talking about how they were kind of experts on these very futuristic things like TikTok marketing and AI-assisted songwriting and then underground digital marketing. And I came into this interview like guns blazing, ready to talk about TikTok because obviously my entire running soundtrack is now TikTok songs. I've discovered new artists through TikTok. And one of the first things that Talya, who I spoke to, said was, "Yeah, we don't really put any money to TikTok anymore. Like we've moved on," which was so shocking to me.

Scott Rogowsky: TikTok is too mainstream. It's too big.

Kate Lindsay: Yeah.

Scott Rogowsky: It's not the cool next thing anymore. Is that it?

Kate Lindsay: It's almost that it's become too dense. Now that everyone's figured out, especially music companies that people are getting music from TikTok and that music is charting because of TikTok. They're all trying to get a slice of it. But if you have more people trying to get a slice, smaller slices, one of the main ways they get songs in front of people on TikTok is by paying creators to use them in a song either, do a dance or do a trend to it. And now more people are trying to do that. And so the price is getting higher and higher and higher. And because of that, the likelihood that it'll even make an impact is getting smaller and smaller.

Kate Lindsay: So in their view, they're not spending the numbers she mentioned was like $200,000 on this to even just have a chance. It kind of feels like flushing money down a toilet. Then you have someone like Olivia Rodrigo, the way she blew up, that was 100% genuine. And it's like the dream of every music executive to have that happen for their client. But something like that, every small, random thing has to go right. And sometimes you pay $200,000 and it doesn't go right. And now you're just out $200,000.

Scott Rogowsky: Has it always been this way with TikTok? I mean, I guess not always. Right? How long was the beginning of three, four years ago?

Kate Lindsay: TikTok was a great tool, she said, about two years ago, before Lil Nas X blew up. And she was like, I went through this with TikTok. I went through this with Vine. I went through this with YouTube. Like everything's the same over and over on a new platform. And it's very exciting when it's new, because it's so easy to make an impact, but once everyone becomes hip to it, then you might as well move on because it's going to be the same thing. So much money for a much smaller chance. And so yeah, she describes she has a bunch of these internet ninjas and their job is to just be in these communities, find where people are talking about music and find what's next. So she mentioned, Discord is one. And she also said that YouTube weirdly... I mean, YouTube's always been around. It's not new, but she still cites it as a super effective platform. It's free, it's accessible. And so that's where she says, they're kind of focusing their next conversations around.

Scott Rogowsky: And Godmode is an agency that is working with artists. It's like a development agency?

Kate Lindsay: Yeah, they have a few artists under their belt and obviously I'm sure they do a wide breadth of more traditional agency stuff. But I know that-

Scott Rogowsky: Music marketing, though.

Kate Lindsay: Music marketing, that's the adult word to use for it.

Scott Rogowsky: Right.

Kate Lindsay: But I know their focus is very much on the internet because that's where it's all happening now.

Scott Rogowsky: We're at the peak of TikTok. It's over. It's too late. So what is next then, Katie? You mentioned Discord. How does Discord work in the music scene?

Kate Lindsay: Discord, if you're familiar with something like Slack, it's very similar to Slack, but seems to be totally removed from sort of the context of work. Discord is always associated usually with a preexisting community, like a Reddit thread or a type of creator or a newsletter.

Scott Rogowsky: Or a pop culture phenomenon. There was an HQ Discord back in the day. I remember I didn't use it. I didn't go on there, but I remember it being a source for people to cheat.

Kate Lindsay: People would've gone nuts if you had appeared on it.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah.

Kate Lindsay: I'm similarly like just getting introduced to the world of Discord because so many people are saying that that's next, but so much of it is invite only. Or like if you know, you know, which I think is what makes it appealing for someone trying to get their music out there. Because if you manage to break through all those barriers, you've got a very captive, genuine, engaged audience, but it's very difficult to infiltrate those communities authentically and discoverability is difficult. But from what I've seen, like as where everyone's talking about music, there's one server, that's literally just their music server. It has over 18,000 members. They share recommendations. And one thing that Discord has is these music bots, where they're sort of independent from Discord but you can incorporate them into your server and they will play music while you're chatting. It's kind of like, if you were sitting in your living room with friends and you wanted to put on music, it's replicating that experience over a chat. And so I think that's the biggest way people play songs that they want to recommend to other people or reminisce on. And so that's one way that it can authentically infiltrate. You want to figure out, how can I get my client's songs on those playlists in with these people? I don't know the answers. I don't know if they even do, but that's something they're figuring out. And when I was sort of thinking about this, the way that you're replicating the experience of being with friends in the living room, but online, it made me think of obviously the big thing everyone was talking about now is the metaverse and how everything's going to be virtual reality. And already music has become a big part of that. Specifically, Fortnite and also Roblox are these kind of gaming, virtual reality spaces that people already occupy that have already figured out how to incorporate sort of virtual reality concerts. Travis Scott did one with Fortnite. Recently, Lil Nas X of course did one in Roblox. 21 Pilots did one recently. And the Lil Nas X Roblox concert, you can watch it on YouTube and you can watch the behind the scenes. He had to do all this motion capture stuff, but it got over 30 million visits from people watching. And they were able to pair with it things like themed avatar items and bundles that are themed to his songs. And so it's-

Scott Rogowsky: Of course, monetize, monetize, monetize.

Kate Lindsay: Monetize. The one thing I was trying to find, I was like, what is the experience of watching? And I saw this good article on The Verge of someone who watched the Travis Scott Fortnite concert. And they were like, the quote is, "Live concerts have become more elaborate, but they don't let you float through the air. Well, a huge like Godzilla-size Travis Scott is walking across the ocean." Like that's what it is. And it sounds so science fiction. But if you could watch a concert while floating through the air, why wouldn't you?

Scott Rogowsky: Why wouldn't you? Yeah. 

Kate Lindsay: Yeah, answer me that.

Scott Rogowsky: I've done that before. I've been to Bonaroo, Kate. But talking to you and hearing about this, it does seem like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Kate Lindsay: Yeah.

Scott Rogowsky: It's just different formats, different ways. But it's the same idea of artists and their reps trying to shoehorn their clients, their songs, onto these platform. It was TikTok two years ago. And now it's Discord music bots.

Kate Lindsay: Especially, you don't need to infiltrate the platforms themselves. You just need to get in front of the people and the users who are already on it. And so like, who are those users? And so I know with Discord, I would imagine it's pretty widespread. But I was speaking with a writer named Casey Lewis. She writes the substack called After School. And she consults with brands about Gen Z specifically. And she was saying that she was working with someone whose kids are 12 and 13 and they're not on TikTok at all. They're just on Roblox. And so it's like, how do we get our music in front of these sort of younger users who aren't even...they don't even turn to TikTok anymore?They're already in this virtual reality world, like they're miles ahead of us.

Scott Rogowsky: More like virtual insanity. Am I right?

Kate Lindsay: I know. The Roblox thing, I just can't get behind. It just looks like Legos. Like I just can't get behind it, but I almost stop myself short of saying that because I was like, I sound so old.

Scott Rogowsky: Well, we're all old and getting older, Kate. That's the one constant. That way you can hold fast to.

Kate Lindsay: That's the message of this podcast.

Scott Rogowsky: Kate, you asked Talya this question in your interview, and I thought it was very thoughtful. I want to ask it to you because I want to hear your take. What does digital success look like now for all artists, not just music, and into the future? And why is it so difficult to pin down this definition of success in the digital age?

Kate Lindsay: I thought this was so interesting, her answer, and I do kind of agree. So, her answer was basically that the press is becoming less and less important, like traditional press, like your Pitchfork rating or your review in Rolling Stone. It's mostly, who of influence can you get to tweet about it? And social media is the new press. And so that scene is more successful for a music creator is if their music is showing up, not from someone whose job it is to rate music, but someone who just organically enjoys their work and shares it with a large audience. Obviously, you want people to show up to your concert, you want people to stream your song, but I think there's a lot of value of just seeing yourself in the conversation. And I still think there's clearly so much value in being part of the conversation, being part of a TikTok trend. And what I love about TikTok is that it can resurrect old songs. I mean, we had that happen with Taylor Swift's “Wildest Dreams.” She re-released it after seeing it get so popular on TikTok. She re-released her own version of it because people were playing the version that was part of her masters and not part of her recordings and it-

Scott Rogowsky: Right. She wanted a piece.

Kate Lindsay: Yeah, and so she jumped ahead. And so I still think TikTok has a lot of value and a lot of of magic as a consumer of music and as an artist. But I do imagine as someone whose job it is to kind of game that, I totally understand wanting to give up on it and move on and find the next thing. But I think if you are an artist, there's got to be no better feeling than seeing your song transcend being an audio experience and become either a dance experience or a comedic experience and mean something different to people and have people build on it. I mean, that seems so much more authentic. But like we've talked about, it's so hard to instigate purposefully.

Scott Rogowsky: To be memed, Kate. We all wish to be memed.

Kate Lindsay: Yes, I'll boil it down. You just want to be a meme.

Scott Rogowsky: You just want to be a meme. Well, maybe the future is getting your songs on Business Casual.

Kate Lindsay: Yes, you know what? That's my answer.

Scott Rogowsky: You could be our new theme. That's it. This is happening.

Kate Lindsay: It's podcasts.

Scott Rogowsky: This is happening. We're making this happen. New music is breaking here on Biz Cas tune in. Don't miss it. Kate Lindsay is a writer and editor and co-founder of Embedded, a newsletter all about the internet and influencers. Kate, thanks for your insights.

Kate Lindsay: Thank you for having me.

Scott Rogowsky: And now, BC listeners, we want to hear from you about an upcoming episode we're recording about the used car industry, how it can inform us about the supply chain issues we've been hearing so much about. Have you purchased a used car? How have the supply chain issues impacted you or your business? We want to hear it all. Send an email to or DM us on Twitter @bizcasualpod. That's B-I-Zcasualpod with your thoughts.

Nora Ali: You can also leave a voice memo on our website,, or give us a call and leave us a message. Our number is 862-295-1135. As Business Casual grows, we are excited to get to know our listeners, old and new. Drop us a line, and don't forget to leave your name and where you're calling or writing from so we can include you in a future episode.

Scott Rogowsky: Wouldn't that be fun? Business Casual is produced by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins on the ones and twos. Additional production sound design and mixing by Daniel Marcus. Alan Haburchak is the director of audio at Morning Brew. Sarah Singer is our VP at multimedia. And Jessica Coen is our chief content officer. Music in this episode from Daniel Marcus and The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. If you like what you heard, please follow Business Casual on Spotify (get on Wrapped with us), Apple Podcasts, or wherever you go for your ear candy. And we love it if you would give us a great rating and a review, pretty please.

Nora Ali: Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky.

Nora Ali: Keep it business.

Scott Rogowsky: And keep it casual.