Nobody can escape the desire to become absolutely viral: It doesn’t matter whether you are a child or have been dead for decades. Not surprisingly, the growth and success of TikTok as a major social media platform has led major record companies to seemingly use the platform to try to turn Gen Z into some of the biggest stars of the 20th century, such as John Lennon and Frank Sinatra.
This exposure was pointed out by journalist Dave Jorgenson (who runs the highly entertaining TikTok report in the Washington Post), who joked that Old Blue Eyes is an “exciting new artist”. Since the TikTok account is verified by Sinatra and only follows Universal Music Group and Capitol Records, it was most likely launched by the UMG.
Watch this exciting new artist on TikTok pic.twitter.com/lCmdYSnhIH.
– Washington Post TikTok Guy comma Georgia (@davejorgenson) December 4, 2020
Of course, don’t expect Sinatra to dance along to “Savage” in the near future. He died in 1998 and the report contains short excerpts of Sinatra performing some of his greatest songs like “Luck Be a Lady” or “My Way” at various concerts from his life.
This is life, 1966 #FrankSinatra
♬ Thus is the life – franc Sinatra
Lennon’s TikTok report contains similar archive material of the Beatle, with some interview recordings mixed in with the musical performances. It also includes videos of Lennon’s son, Sean Ono Lennon, lighting the New York Empire State Building blue to mark the rock star’s 80th birthday. Lennon’s report notes that it is run by his estate in the biography.
#WARISOVER #GIMMESOMETRUTH #Healing #Affirmation #embedded #bekind #Goodness #Healing #Peace #Love #Truth
♬ Original sound – John Lennon
A look at various labels and music conglomerates shows that there are indeed a number of dead musicians who have accounts on the app. George Michael and Whitney Houston both have TikTok accounts. Houston does not track accounts, but Michael tracks both TikTok and the UK branch of Sony Music. Like Lennon’s, Houston’s is noted to be managed by her estate.
Even though it may seem strange to find reports about musicians who died a long time ago, many of them have been active in the app for several months. Lennon’s first video was released in September. Both Sinatra’s and Michael’s were released in October. Houston’s first video was released in November.
Even though it doesn’t feel right to see artists who have moved to the big concert hall in the sky on TikTok, it’s nothing new that dead musicians have social media. Lennon, Sinatra and Michael have all verified Twitter accounts, which are mostly used as a means of advertising new releases, posthumous releases, etc. All four of the above mentioned musicians have verified Instagram accounts.
Apart from the occasional promotion of a box set or music video on YouTube, the real reason why these accounts appear is to bring the music of these artists to the app. According to the digital music distribution platform TuneCore, artists can earn money and collect royalties with TikTok. Postings from some of the artist accounts explicitly mention that their music is now available on TikTok.
Finally the music of George Michael has arrived on @tiktok! We celebrate the career, humor, heart and individualism of George Michael. #GeorgeMichael #FYP #Music
♬ Original sound – George Michael
“Finally George Michael’s music has arrived at @tiktok! We celebrate George’s career, his humor, his heart and his individualism”, says George Michael in an article.
Introducing a new generation to these musical icons is an obvious benefit of these catalogs on TikTok. While you can explore the archives of some of these famous artists with the clips posted on TikTok, the more exciting option is to do a viral dance to “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” or “That’s Life.
Washington Newsday contacted the Universal Music Group with a request for comment, but did not receive a response in time for release.