Mega and TikTok Are Changing How We Discover Artists
There’s no doubt about it: TikTok has changed the music industry. Depending on who you ask it could be for the better or for the worse, but if you asked Mega(she/they), it’s for the better. The 19-year-old TikToker, who recently surpassed the 1-million-follower milestone, has seen her music career blossom since her start on the popular video-sharing app.
“Everybody my whole life told me I could sing but I was never really into the arts side of music, but I joined the floetics club and it just opened me up to all sorta new artists and it really showed me what you can create with music and what music can really be about,” Mega said of the start of their relationship with music.
The Floetics Club is a group of spoken-word artists such as musicians, poets and rappers at her high school. Mega describes it as a “safe space” where students could go and share their words with one another. Despite her parents being really into music, Mega didn’t get a start with music until she joined the club. She was even president of the club for a year!
I asked Mega why she joined TikTok in the first place, and she replied with a laugh, explaining that she was on TikTok before everyone. She even made references to earlier TikTok trends, such as the “Hit or Miss” song. She wasn’t there to become a viral musician, initially.
“[The app] got more popular, so I want to see what it’s about,” Mega said. “It’s some pretty cool stuff in here. Everybody joins TikTok and they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s lame! I want to see all these lame people,’ and then they’re addicted. And that was just the way it was for me.”
Mega posts a cover of a song almost every day, which is a whole lot of work. But the content found on @megagonefree wasn’t always covers and original songs. One of their music-related videos garnered a bit of attention back in 2018, but after that, she wasn’t really posting much more music.
POVs, or Point-of-Views, were a trend for quite some time on the app to create a video from the perspective of another person, while they act out some sort of scenario. Some are comedic, others take on a more serious vibe.
“Those were the things that made me first start getting followers,” Mega said. “I gained my first 50k [followers] off of my POVs, so I was literally just going to have fun. I was doing what was most fun for me to do at the time.”
So how did Mega go from acting in POVs for 50,000 people to sharing her talent with over 1.5 million followers? She did it by following the trends.
“I was pretty much just making content for myself, but then I came out with my next song ‘U.V. Light,’ that’s when I was pretty much doing what all the indie artists are doing on TikTok: trying to find creative ways to get people to check out my music,” Mega said. “It got to the point where I started making transition videos to my song. It was the very first TikTok to get the ball rolling.”
In one of these transition videos using their original song U.V. Light, Mega starts the video off with a bare face, but when singing the line in the song “feigning for anxiety,” the beat of the chorus drops, they move their arms down their face, and before you is them with their makeup done – likely donning their signature dragonfly-wing sunglasses. People ate it right up.
Some once left a comment under one of Mega’s covers, complimenting how powerful her voice was. “Thank you, I’m powerful,” she replied, doing the transition mentioned above.
“After that, people liked those videos,” Mega said. “I started doing them more and more. I did one more cosmic look, I did one where I did a sunflower Mother Earth look, and people started loving those.”
After their original songs came the covers. The first cover to bring even more attention to their profile was a cover of “American Boy” by Estelle and Kanye West, but for non-binary people. Instead of singing, “I’m likin’ this American Boy, American Boy,” Mega sang, “I’m likin’ this Americ-enby, Americ-enby.”
After that cover she kept posting more, which only brought more attention to her page.
“It kind of caught me off guard, because I’m like, why did this happen? Again?” Mega said. “I understood it was a whole community of people that were liking it, because it was a non-binary version of ‘American Boy.’ But now people are liking the video because they liked my voice.”
With this sudden rise in popularity, one might assume it could all be a bit too much.
“The time I felt most overwhelmed was the beginning of February because that’s when I first started gaining more momentum,” Mega said. “Then it was … it was crazy. I had just quit my job and pursued this full-time.”
At the beginning of 2021, there were 150,000 people following the account @megagonefree on TikTok. Now, about eleven weeks later, there are 1.5 million people following the account, with the most recent two videos having a combined view count of over 3.5 million.
At one point during our conversation, we were discussing the unpredictability of TikTok’s algorithm. Mega mentioned feeling overwhelmed because at any moment it could all go away, then mentioned that it has, to a lesser degree, happened to them before.
“After the POVs, my account died completely,” Mega said. “I would get a couple hundred likes on every other post, it would get below 100 likes sometimes.”
This occurred after the musician had already garnered around 50,000 followers for their POVs, which just goes to show that one can never be too comfortable with one’s popularity on the app.
But as of now, Mega’s content doesn’t seem to be heading in a downward trend anytime soon. Especially not with what’s in store for the singer come summer. They shared with me that they have plans to move to California this June and also have started to write an EP.
Success on TikTok is not easy, nor is it a linear rise to the top, but @megagonefree on TikTok is a perfect example of hard work paying off. I’m sure I speak for any one of their 1.5 million supporters on TikTok when I say that I am more than excited to see what the rest of 2021 and beyond has in store for Mega. Who knows what the future holds?