Record labels are making TikTok accounts for deceased musicians now

Screenshots via TikTok
Culture

You’ve got to check out this hot new artist who just joined TikTok. He’s got the voice of an angel, irresistible baby blue eyes, has a thing for custom-tailored suits… and he’s been dead for more than 20 years. That’s right, folks: Frank Sinatra has a TikTok account.

He’s not the only deceased celebrity on the app, either. George Michael has an official TikTok account, as do Whitney Houston, John Lennon, and Prince. Some of the profiles were clearly set up by the late-singers’ estates. Others seem to be the work of record labels, in a bid to introduce their catalogues to a younger generation. And while the phenomenon is a little weird, it’ll also probably work.

Back in June, TikTok signed a deal with Prince’s estate to put his whole catalogue on the app. This was a big deal, since Prince was famously protective of his music during his life and pulled most of his discography from streaming services before his death. His estate reversed course, however, returning the artist’s oeuvre to platforms like Spotify in 2017. TikTok became the first short-form video app to gain access to Prince’s music, albeit in vetted 15-second snippets. His estate launched the official Prince TikTok account around the same time.

Overall, TikTok has struggled to strike significant deals with major labels, even though the app is a proven hitmaker. You don’t have to look further than Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” for proof. Dismissed by the mainstream music establishment, the country and hip-hop star turned his self-released single into a viral phenomenon thanks to TikTok.

The fact that record labels and the estates of legendary artists now seem to be flocking to the app most likely means they’re starting to appreciate TikTok’s outsized influence. They’re probably betting a viral TikTok using the right Frank Sinatra tune, for example, will translate to real-world royalties. After all, the viral TikTok of Nathan Apodaca (a.k.a. @420doggface208) skating to Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” catapulted the 1977 song back to the top of the charts. If TikTok can do that for Fleetwood, there’s no reason it couldn’t translate to a windfall for other musicians past the height of their fame — even deceased ones.