Should Metal Bands Jump On The TikTok Bandwagon? (Opinion)

In recent years, the rise of a certain app has sent ripples through all social media platforms. TikTok, with its swipe-down interface and vertical video format, has virtually taken the internet by storm. This easily produced and consumed video format has become particularly popular among younger audiences. Its influence is so vast that it has even touched the music industry.

As someone who avidly listened to Ghost in their early days, I must confess I’ve drifted a bit from their recent work. However, a recent encounter with their song ‘Mary On A Cross’ in a YouTube video struck a chord. I realized it was the same song frequently used as background music in vertical videos (aka Reels) on Instagram, leading me to an ‘aha’ moment: ‘So this is that song!’

Nowadays, we know many musicians are crafting melodic and simple tunes to hop on the TikTok bandwagon. Ghost’s TikTok-viral song has become their most streamed track on Spotify, outperforming their nearest competitor by triple. Can you grasp the magnitude of this phenomenon?

In an interview with Qobuz last May, Ghost’s mastermind Tobias Forge expressed his satisfaction on this topic. This might not be a widely discussed issue, but I feel compelled to speak on what I observe.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that metal bands and the industry are gradually losing ground. Despite the packed metal festivals in Northern Europe and America, securing a place in the mainstream media and music industry seems almost imperative. The exclusion of rock and metal by mainstream producers is a sore point for many.

Perhaps metal bands need to play the game by the new generation’s rules to win their hearts and demonstrate the genre’s enduring power to mobilize vast audiences. The explosive success of a TikTok song elevating Ghost’s music catalog suggests that adapting to this trend is a move worth considering.

Given the strict conventions of metal bands and their audience’s resistance to change, this might be wishful thinking. But let’s make a note in history: those who adapt, survive. Metallica has done this across three generations. They haven’t seen it yet, but perhaps their next album might feature such a move, as they have historically been the trendsetters in this sector.

Ending my writing with a comment left under a live concert video of Ghost’s ‘Mary On A Cross’:

“My favorite thing about Ghost fans is the diversity you see in the audience. Old guard metalheads, teens, and everyone in between. It’s so wholesome.”

Embracing all people, maybe it’s that simple.