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Austin City Limits 2022's Unexpected Headliner: TikTok

Image courtesy of Austin City Limits

This year, Austin City Limits was host to some of the biggest names in music, from The Chicks, Kacey Musgraves, to Lil Nas X. But out of all the incredible artists who played this year, we couldn’t help but notice one presence emerging as the biggest headliner; TikTok.

Being the digital natives we are, we’re constantly reminded of the power that social media has to bring brands, people, and ideas to the forefront of the zeitgeist, and over these recent two weekends of ACL, no platform’s impact was more apparent than TikTok. What is so interesting about TikTok, is the influence that it has on the music industry, bringing the artists and the music you scroll through on your phone, straight from the screen and onto stages all over the world where they perform for thousands of fans who sing along to songs that only months ago, they had never even heard.

While Cristina Garcia, the founder here at The Social Hour, was having the time of her life during ACL, she said that it was clear the app was right there on stage along with the performers. She watched artists like Oliver Tree and Lil Nas X whip out their phones to make TikToks and said a few of them even mentioned it during their performances, crediting it as the launching pad for their careers or for helping them gain an entirely new generation of devoted fans.

Image courtesy of Austin American Statesman

You know Conan Gray? Whether you’ve listened to his songs on Spotify or just recognize the name, we can thank TikTok. Conan, who hails from right outside of Austin in Georgetown, went from being virtually unknown to landing hits at the top of the charts after exploding on TikTok when his music went viral on the app. While on stage at ACL, he remarked how TikTok has given him the amazing gift of a platform where he can discuss mental health issues and help bring certain issues to light for his audience and fans.

We also can’t fail to mention fellow ACL performer, Wallows. Daniel Minnette was already a name many people knew from his role on 13 Reasons Why, but practically no one had heard of Wallows, the band he formed with his friends back in 2011. Now, because of TikTok, more people are familiar with Wallows and their music, and are usually surprised to learn the actor is their lead singer and guitarist.

Image courtesy of The Daily Texan

Even established bands credited TikTok while on stage at ACL, like Paramore’s lead singer, Hayley Williams. Before performing their hit song “Still Into You,” she thanked the millennials in the crowd that have grown up with Paramore as the soundtrack to their childhoods for their continued support, following the acknowledgement with a call to her new generation of fans who “have heard this song on TikTok” to sing along.

As locals of Live Music Capital of the World and social media experts, we love that TikTok has become a powerhouse of music. TikTok today is more than a place to watch Charlie D’Amelio perform the newest dance trend or where we go to find out which products we absolutely must order during Sephora’s annual sale, it’s an incredible platform that gives musicians a way to start their careers.

We don’t know about you, but we are so excited to see which musicians from our FYPs are taking the stage at next year's ACL and making musical waves performing for crowds around the world!

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