DLMDD Meets: Creator K
Creator K talks going viral on TikTok, growing a following online and the future of music discovery.
TikTok has brought an exciting new energy to music. With an algorithm tailored to both show more of what you’ve enjoyed, but also add diversity to your feed, it allows users to encounter new creators and new content categories, giving them new ideas and perspectives. With 800 million users. The app’s influence on the billboard charts is undeniable.
In contrast to Facebook and Instagram, where paid campaigns boost how many users will encounter your content, or users can get stuck in echo chambers of people with the same views and interests as them, TikTok has allowed unexpected trends and viral moments to occur. Via TikTok, anyone can become a tastemaker, democratising the emerging artist scene in a similar way to the early years of MySpace.
Creator K is the founder and curator at Show & Tell – a platform for sharing stories and connecting through music because, as his tag line goes, sharing is caring.
Groove meter is truly 100. Creator K’s fresh approach to sharing his taste in music (and sometimes dancing!) has brought him an audience of over 300,000 subscribers and 3M+ likes. With series titles like “Songs That Will Instantly Put You In a Groove”, “Great Front to Back Albums”, “Artists You Need in Your Rotation” and more, Creator K is one of the luminaries of the evolving online music scene.
We caught up with K to see what the story is and his thoughts on the future of Tik Tok & music.
E: Alright. Origin story. Go!
K: I have always enjoyed listening to music. I played drums when I was younger, but outside of that I’ve never made music. So I’ve always wanted to give back in some way, and the best way that I can do that is just by sharing the music that I love. So I started this platform, initially as a podcast and Spotify playlist, and it’s kind of evolved into a little bit more than that, especially with TikTok helping grow it. It feels like more of a community. And it feels like more of a music discovery platform as well. I’m not just sharing music that people know about, I’m trying to share music that people will enjoy if they give it a chance.
I’m not just sharing music that people know about, I’m trying to share music that people will enjoy if they give it a chance.
I love music, that when I listen to it, it instantly puts me in a groove that makes me start moving. If I’m sitting on my desk, I’m at least moving my head to it. And it goes back to the ethos of Show & Tell: I know that it will make people feel the same way, so I want to share that with people.
E: So how long have you been doing this for? What was the growth process like?
K: Show & Tell as a platform has been going for about two and a half years on other channels like my podcast, but it really blew up on Tik Tok. I was probably only two weeks into the app when my third video got nearly 2M views.
In a way I am in debt to TikTok, because prior to that video, and the first video that blew up, ‘Favourite Songs of 2020’, I would still be stuck where I was. Those videos certainly changed my perspective and are currently moulding where my head’s at with the brand, because it was stagnant up until that point. That app is incredibly powerful for creators. It only takes one video and – it sounds dramatic- it’s not life changing, but it can be.
E: People who generally do well on Tik Tok are just talking normally, sharing things they love. The authenticity of it all is amazing. What are your thoughts on TikTok as a general media outlet for music discovery, and for musicians and creators?
K: There are people higher up who are managing artists or artists themselves who are reaching out because they see the potential of TikTok. That is the one word: there is potential. Because the algorithm is so democratic, anybody can blow up. It allows people to be super creative. Obviously, there’s somewhat of a formula to follow in terms of capturing people’s attention in the first few seconds, what your content is about, the niche, all of that. But it is really amazing and kind of still blows me away, how kind it is to the creator.
People want to invest in that, whether it’s just a matter of reaching out to a content creator, or paying for promotion. And that’s a different conversation because it feels weird to accept money to share music. But, again, they see the potential – any video could blow up at any time. And more and more people are seeing that. I imagine it’s probably the most used app, more than Instagram.
Instagram is, as we know, run by Facebook, Facebook makes you pay to reach your own followers. It stunts your engagement. It’s not very beneficial to put any sort of money into it, in my opinion. I think it’s still worth using, but with TikTok there’s the hope that something will take off and I think people are really buying into that.
A lot of people are looking for their tribe, they’re looking for new artists, but they’re also looking to find people who listen to the same music that they do. So this app provides a platform for that connection to happen, which is really awesome.
From a creative perspective TikTok is just a fun place to find community. That’s one of the reasons I started Show & Tell – to connect with other people, have people connect with each other through the channel, to find new music, and help artists build their fan bases. I think I speak for a lot of other creators in saying this (is one of the best things about TikTok)- putting spotlights on artists who aren’t getting enough shine or deserve more shine, and helping build their listener base, whether it’s through sending listeners to a Spotify playlist and getting them some more streams, or turning them into dedicated fans.
E: So part of your process is showcasing artists who maybe don’t have enough attention, they’re emerging artists, they don’t have a huge fan base yet. What’s your process of finding them?
K: The way I like to find music and new artists is just to be on the internet….a lot!
E: Not to be the devil’s advocate, but the concern that I have with TikTok and with music trends is the longevity of it. And the word ‘trend’ in itself: they come and go. People who blow up from a trend, like sea shanties, sign to a record label, make an album, but the trend might be over by the time the record is released. What do you think?
K: Yeah, attention spans are what drive the internet. TikTok is built on trends. I think what does last in terms of music, feels a little bit more evergreen than just a trend. But yeah, attention spans shape what is being produced. It’s kind of the chicken or the egg – music and the internet form people’s attention spans as well. Short and long, whatever it is. So I agree. There are those who speak out against TikTok and don’t want to be a part of it because of the shortness of the content. If you listen to music in 15 second snippets, are you actually going to go listen to the song in its entirety? Are you going to go check out the artist’s full album?
If you listen to music in 15 second snippets, are you actually going to go listen to the song in its entirety? Are you going to go check out the artist’s full album?
If artists are designing their music based on 15 second spurts, that shapes what kind of music they make as well. There are those who don’t care about that. From an artist perspective, it pays the bills. But then there are those who are like, no, I want to feel more connected to a full album. And that’s a whole other conversation: are albums dying, concept albums? In a small way, I wouldn’t say dying, but they’re becoming a little bit more peripheral compared to what music is being focused on. And TikTok is really driving that.
So there is a devil’s advocate side to that: everything becomes so bite sized, that for those who want something a little bit more and a little bit more deep. It’s not totally driving that side of music, it’s doing the opposite.
E: What is the future of Show & Tell? Any big goals?
K: Yes, I’m working on nailing down the thing that I look at when I am trying to figure out if I’m going in the right direction. The somewhat cliché and colourful answer is the slogan that I came up with, which is sharing stories and connecting through music, because ‘Sharing is caring’. I want to be the person that takes in artists’ stories, and presents them to listeners, so they can connect.
One of the main goals of the podcast was to show people that artists are not any different than we are. We put them on pedestals, but they’re not that different. We all think the same things, we all go through the same struggles, triumphs, etc.
I want to be the person that takes in artists’ stories, and presents them to listeners, so they can connect.
I would love for it to encapsulate everything that’s good about the brands and projects that inspired me, embodying community, and being a platform for people to find new music. I want it to be a hub where people can interact with each other and find new music, and also, from the artists perspective, be able to help these artists grow their fan base and connect with people who like to listen to their music.
Check out Creator K’s podcast here, watch him boogie and share golden musical nuggets on Tik Tok, here, or, my personal favourite – his “Instant Groove” playlist, here.