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TikTok and the Chipmunks: Understanding the Sped-Up TikTok Music Trend for Marketers

The sped-up music trend has changed me. Lately, when I listen to music and I’m really vibing with a song, my subconscious starts to hear it at 2x speed. I have TikTok to thank for this mental rewiring. Sped-up versions of songs, both old and new, have been dominating the short-form video app for months now. 

Artists like Raye, Ellie Goulding, Miguel, Lana Del Rey, and countless others have seen an incredible spike in streaming numbers once their music gets the Chipmunks treatment. Who would’ve thought Alvin and his gang would be decades ahead of the hottest music trend on TikTok today?

2x the Content

The sped up music trend has been popular on TikTok for more than a year — an eternity for an online social trend. Why?

For one, it allows users to enjoy more of a song in a shorter amount of time; if you’re only watching a 15 second video, you’ll want to get to the hook quicker. It can also entirely change the feel of a song, and the emotions it gives rise to.

It’s no secret that dance videos remain extremely popular on TikTok, and it’s a lot more natural to dance to a track at 120 BPM than at 60 BPM. Sometimes, fans may just think a song just sounds better sped up.

In every case, changing the BPM of a song provides a new perspective on it, and allows fans to engage with that song in a new way. 

Remixes are not a new concept. Artists and labels remix to bring new life to a track, or introduce it to a new kind of audience. But gone are the days of fans waiting patiently for a remix to drop.

Nowadays, a middle-schooler could speed up their favorite track right on their phone or computer, upload it to TikTok, and garner millions of views overnight. I myself may or may not have started my own sped-up songs TikTok account, so that I could make and listen to my favorite songs at a faster tempo.

Fast Tracking Success

It’s not just TikTok users dropping sped-up remixes. Record labels have caught on too. 

Major artists like Drake, SZA, and The Weeknd are now getting ahead of the trend, officially releasing sped-up versions of their songs across all streaming platforms, whether or not they’ve seen sped-up success on TikTok first. 

Labels are incorporating this trend into their release strategies, and some are even paying TikTok DJs to make and release sped-up remixes on the platform in the hopes that version will go viral. 

Popularity at 2x speed can be all it takes to catapult an artist into stardom.

Take 23 year old singer-songwriter, Lizzy McAlpine, for example. Her song “Ceilings” has seen 630K+ TikTok videos created using the official sped-up version of the track. The original, non-sped version has only 12K+ video creations. In the past couple of months, the sped-up version has been used to soundtrack a trend that channels an indie movie fantasy, with a friend filming another friend as they slowly bound into a melodramatic run while lip syncing the catchy tune. Now Lizzy’s upcoming tour is completely sold out across the U.S., U.K., and Europe – an incredible feat for an emerging artist.

From TikTok to Billboard

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen TikTok, and social media in general, have a major impact on artists’ and record labels’ strategies, and it certainly won’t be the last. For years now, TikTok has become a critical part of the music industry, with artists flocking to the platform to promote their music in the hopes one of their songs might be the soundtrack for the next viral trend.

Time and time again, we see that trending on TikTok leads to charting on Billboard just weeks later, and the app has become a hub for labels to promote both new releases and back catalog tracks.

What’s a Brand to Do?

Music is the backbone of TikTok. For brands, capitalizing on the sped-up TikTok music trend — or any music trend — means considering music licensing early in the campaign planning. The goal of any campaign is always to capture the audience’s attention and imagination. Nowhere is that more important than on TikTok. The right song makes all the difference in a campaign, and stock music just doesn’t cut it.

Take a listen to the BENlabs playlist containing some of my favorite sped-up songs, and feel free to reach out to chat about how we can help you license today’s most popular songs quickly and easily. With BENlabs’ deep connections across entertainment, we can even help you commission your own remix from a popular artist for branded use.

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