Since its inception, music has been at the heart of TikTok, driving music and artist discovery and rediscovery in markets across the globe. This is particularly evident in Saudi Arabia, where TikTok has become a prominent platform for both musicians and their audiences. Thanks to the rising Saudi talents, both established and emerging artists that are unleashing their potential and making their voices heard, the music scene continues to create a resounding impact globally.
TikTok’s widespread appeal lies in its role as an ever-evolving creative hub. Its innovative features that allow musicians to showcase their talents and interact with fans in real time, have contributed to its impressive growth in the Kingdom. With 48.8 billion views globally and more than 1.2 billion views in the MENA region in the last six months for #NewMusic and 17.8 billion views globally and over 968 million views for #TikTokMusic across the region in the past six months, these hashtags have become indispensable tools for music lovers and creators in Saudi Arabia across a range of musical genres and tastes, from rock to acoustic.
The platform has had a noteworthy impact on the Arabic music industry. TikTok’s capacity to unite diaspora communities and power artist and song discovery and rediscovery, helps launch careers and drives chart success worldwide. TikTok has emerged as a powerful marketing platform for the modern music business in the Arab world. Today, TikTok serves as more than just a digital platform; it’s a portal to facilitate easy access to Arabic music globally and support the musical landscape in Saudi Arabia and beyond.
TikTok is a vital component of today’s music industry by democratizing music discovery and promotion. In Saudi Arabia, it has evolved beyond mere entertainment to become a key space for discovering and promoting new artists due to the platform’s algorithm, which favors engaging and sharable content, enhancing musicians’ visibility.
TikTok’s dynamic options empower artists to effortlessly share their music and stories and reach new audiences. Musicians can share their song inspirations, announce releases, provide behind-the-scenes access to their creative process, and collaborate with peers without requiring advanced technical skills. It allows for a personalized and intimate connection between artists and their audiences, enriching the diversity and reach of musical expression.
Through a recent strategic partnership, TikTok has incorporated the catalogue of the Saudi-based Rotana Music Group, enabling it to expand its influence in the region. Additionally, the 2023 launch of TikTok’s “Add to Music App” feature illustrates the platform’s pivotal role in music dissemination, allowing users to seamlessly transfer songs to their preferred streaming services, including Spotify. Collaborations of this nature emphasize TikTok’s integration with other platforms to enhance user convenience.
The platform has also significantly influenced music trends. Both new and retro songs can organically achieve viral status, often leading to a surge in their popularity. User-generated content plays a crucial role, with 67 percent of TikTok users exploring a song on other streaming platforms after finding it on TikTok, according to a November 2021 study conducted for TikTok by the music-analytics company MRC Data.
This shift in the music industry has given a boost to local talent in Saudi Arabia, who are now turning to TikTok to make waves. Saudi Arabia’s musical superhero Mishaal Tamer (@mishaaltamer) gained fame on TikTok with viral clips, resulting in him opening for OneRepublic in the summer of 2023. Cosmicat, the first female DJ from Saudi Arabia, has captivated audiences with teasers of her new tracks on TikTok, while the multi-talented Sudanese and Saudi-based rapper and composer Mohammed Elfadil’s (@Dafencii) teaser of his track “El Maktoub” amassed over 8 million views in just under two months.
Performers like Abdallah Nasser (@abdallhnasser), recognized for the hit single “Helwa hayati ma’ah,” and @lileazymusic, who has brought a contemporary twist to hip-hop in Saudi Arabia, have used TikTok to redefine their respective genres. DJ Mubarak (@djmubarak) is gaining attention with soulful covers of international hits, and Zeyad (@zeyad_bin_tariq) saw a surge in popularity after his duet with American rapper Armani White.
Indeed, TikTok has played a significant role in reshaping the music industry in Saudi Arabia, opening new avenues for emerging talent and transforming how music is shared and discovered. It serves as a creative haven for artists, providing them with a global stage to showcase their skills, connect with fans, and potentially achieve stardom. Recognizing this impact, record labels and marketers have established a strong presence on TikTok, consistently scouting the platform for new talent. In 2023, TikTok further demonstrated its commitment to music promotion by introducing app-specific music charts, including the “Viral” and “Hot 50” lists.
These developments signal a thrilling period for music enthusiasts and creators in Saudi Arabia, underscoring that TikTok is more than just a passing trend — it stands as a force that fuels music discovery and drives transformation in the music industry.