National Album Day: How TikTok can boost discovery of classic '90s albums and unearth hidden gems

National Album Day: How TikTok can boost discovery of classic '90s albums and unearth hidden gems

As we approach National Album Day and look forward to celebrating the art of the long player, Simon Friend, COO at the global creative and digital agency Round, explores the extent to which UGC platforms, particularly TikTok, are influencing music consumption... 

The traditional album is in flux in a digital world dominated by TikTok, synonymous with ever-evolving Gen-Z trends and the dynamic landscape of short-form content. 

The prevailing assumption is that TikTok has become a vehicle for catapulting modern music into the charts, thriving on the pulse of contemporary culture. Typically, this ascent is attributed to individual singles, disseminated through trending challenges and viral dances. Sprinter by Dave and Central Cee, Escapism by Raye (feat. 070 Shake), and As It Was by Harry Styles are just a few examples. 

In tandem with TikTok and echoing its 'For You' page, digital streaming platforms, armed with their extensive playlisting features, have given rise to a format that celebrates shuffling. Much like the era of the iPod, shuffling singles to suit one's algorithmically defined taste has become the norm, perpetuating a trend that has shaped music consumption for years and refashioned our relationship with albums. This synergy between TikTok and streaming raises the question: Is TikTok the final nail in the coffin for the album? 

Contrary to prevailing beliefs, data from Round's proprietary technology, Trnds.Xyz offers a fresh perspective: UGC platforms, with TikTok at the forefront, are not so much the executioners of albums as they are catalysts for their renaissance. 

Within TikTok's ecosystem, a burgeoning corner is dedicated to discovering and exploring albums – a community that contrasts the singles-orientated paradigm. Here, diverse content flourishes, ranging from deep dives into modern music and spotlights on influential artist albums to narratives around obscure album discoveries. The audience seeks to rediscover the old made, new, forgotten classics and hidden gems. 

Through TikTok, people are rediscovering the joy of slow, organic content consumption

Simon Friend

Content creators are delving into albums and artists that might have otherwise remained in obscurity, offering insights into the act of 'listening' and putting them into a broader context of their influences. 

An example of this can be found in a record store owner, @rockabuyrecords, recommending his personal "hidden gems" to his children; and with National Album Day's celebration of the ’90s, we spotted that content tends to focus on decontextualising and reappraising iconic albums. On the one hand, there are posts where users are revisiting their 'top albums of the ’90s', catering to music enthusiasts who relish a debate. Other videos delve into the historical context of music in the ’90s, educating younger generations. Another form of content gaining popularity is quick-form reviews, serving as concise guides to must-listen tracks and albums from the ’90s music scene.

While the virality of singles depends on tens of thousands of videos to push a song to prominence, album-related content thrives on individual, impactful videos with outsized influence. TikTok offers trend-driven content while hosting numerous niche communities actively seeking long-form narratives. 

Albums still hold significance in the streaming age, an experience that can be easily forgotten in a world where the next new track is a click away. Through TikTok, people are rediscovering the joy of slow, organic content consumption. Listening to an album demands dedication, a rare act in an era where Gen-Z rarely dedicates 10 minutes, let alone an hour, to a single form of content. This deviation from the norm is a welcome change. The result is a vibrant space for discovery. 

Yes, TikTok has established an environment for short-form content to thrive, but the dedicated niche of album enthusiasts deserve recognition. This underscores TikTok's commitment to community by offering a content rich environment that caters to diverse interests, encouraging discussions and enabling bubble-up culture. 

TikTok is not the album's executioner, rather the platform is playing a role in its resilience. This trend can encourage artists, labels and marketers to incorporate more meaningful, conversation-driven marketing strategies into their campaigns. So, on National Album Day, why not check out which ’90s albums are trending on TikTok? We will be.

Click here to read our interview with National Album Day ambassador Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme.


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