H2 Social Trends: Music & Sounds

By Henley Worthen · August 31, 2023

Get ready to boogie! It’s the fourth part of our five-part series where we spill the tea on H2’s hottest social media trends. Over the past few weeks, we’ve covered the highlights from our H2 2023 Trends report in greater detail using real-world examples from social. 

Check out the trends you may have missed: 

  1. Short-form video
  2. ChatGPT & AI 
  3. News broadcasting on social

This week, we’re diving in to discuss a really exciting topic: Music and sounds! Just two years ago, the soundscape of social looked incredibly different. But with new technology coming into play and video formats exploding in popularity, music has become a quintessential component of social video. 

Below, we explore the magic that has stemmed from social audiences and music producers interacting on social platforms and how that has revolutionized the music industry as a whole.  

Social Media Surfaces Undiscovered Artists

Social video and music have become synonymous. With so many creators utilizing sounds and music to overlay their own creations, it’s no surprise that scrolling through Instagram, TikTok, or YouTube has opened up a new pathway for audiences to discover new music. 

And while it’s not uncommon for small creators to strike gold and go viral seemingly overnight, the same is now true for musicians and the songs that overlay videos.


One of the most iconic social media songs of 2023 is “Makeba” which was originally released over 8 years ago. Upon its initial release, the song achieved very little popularity. But leave it to TikTok to breathe new life into the once-forgotten song. 

In the case of “Makeba”, we found that TikTok resurfaced the song as a viral sound, and YouTube locked the song’s cultural significance into place, helping it skyrocket on music charts.

TikTok views racked up over the summer as audiences posted their own renditions of a viral “Makeba” dance. What’s interesting is that we found that YouTube viewership correlated with TikTok growth. For every 20% day-over-day growth on TikTok, the data indicated a 2% growth for the YouTube music video.

Rich Men North of Richmond

Over the past week, a virtually unknown country artist, Oliver Anthony, has skyrocketed to fame reaching #1 on Billboard Hot 100 after another relatively unknown creator, @radiowv, posted a video of the singer’s “Rich Men North of Richmond” performance to TikTok. 

On YouTube, the song has gained over 49.2M views in less than a month. For reference, the only song beating Oliver Anthony on Spotify’s Top Music list is Doja Cat, and her music video “Paint The Town Red” has only reached less than half the same amount of views: 20.7M views. 

The song is being labeled across the music industry as a new genre of “blue-collar music” that is a sort of protest for the forgotten working class in America. So far, there are over 3,080 TikTok videos posted using the song as a sound stitch. The third video posted on TikTok using the sound was posted by @radiowv – the same account that surfaced the song on YouTube – which has since created a massive wave of both social video views and off-platform streams. 

The song’s overnight viral success underscores its resonance with audiences who aren’t happy with the US government (as well as global leadership). After all, no one is 100% happy with government legislation— so this song was written with the potential for massive appeal. But since its rise to popularity, the left and right political parties have attempted to polarize the song’s message, with Fox News even playing it prior to their broadcast of the Republican presidential debate.

Singer-songwriter Oliver Anthony posted a video defending his music from being used as a political tool:

“I do hate to see the song being weaponized. I see the right trying to characterize me as one of their own, and I see the left trying to discredit me in retaliation”.

– Oliver Anthony

While some outliers continue to criticize Anthony’s music or use it as political leverage, the social video data and music charts reinforce how meaningful this song is to the vast majority of audiences.

We thought it would be interesting to take a peek into the audience demographics and consumer behaviors of RadioWV’s vast new audience that has cultivated Oliver music fans.

Overall, the channel’s audience is massively male — 87% to be exact — with one-third of the total audience made up of males ages 25-34. However, digging into the audience using Tubular’s Consumer Insights tells an even more interesting story.

While some of the top categories like Hunting and Camping products reflect a male-dominated audience, we’ve also seen a ton of products from the Cooking category!

For example, those who watch RadioWV’s content on social are…

  • 35x more likely to shop for sauces, gravies, and marinades
  • 34.7x more likely to shop  for single herbs and spices
  • 32.9x more likely to shop for syrups, sugars & sweeteners
  • 29x more likely to shop  chocolate & candy

On the surface, it may seem that since this audience is male-dominated, they must only shop for traditionally male products. However, with this short-sighted thinking, brands and advertisers are missing a massive chance to partner with similar channels and artists who actually drive sales for other categories – like Food and cooking-related shopping. 

Old Music — but make it new

Another trend we’ve seen on social is nostalgia music — particularly old rap and hip-hop from 2010-2014. Of the Top 50 viral TikTok sounds in H1 2023, 13 of the 50 were Rap, Hip-Hop, or R&B. And over a third of those songs were nostalgia songs! However, it’s not always the same ole’ song and dance. Some of these nostalgic songs are brought into the modern by remixing. Social audiences enjoy speeding up old songs into shortened pop versions better tailored to fit social video formats.

Miguel’s “Sure Thing” originally hit #1 on the Billboard charts back in 2011. Now, the sped-up version is one of the most iconic tracks of 2023. After this song resurfaced on social, it broke the record for the longest song to ever sit on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart with 76 weeks in May 2023. Today, there are a whopping 3.4M videos on TikTok using this track, some around a viral dance that was made acting out the lyrics, and others stitched over all types of content.

Following this massive resurgence of popularity, the full song was eventually sped up and officially released by the label. At first, we’ve seen small-time creators take the songs and speed them up themselves. But now, music labels and artists are learning to follow suit. Nima Nasseri from Universal Music Group told Billboard that sped-up remixes “are great mechanisms for growth. Every label is putting them out”. Some are putting out new versions for social only, while others are reworking entire songs for official release.

This trend also allows artists and labels the ability to re-release old music in new ways. And while remixes are nothing new to the music industry, what is new is the way they are being produced. 

Gone are the days when a music producer would decide where to insert rap remixes into pop songs or collaborate with a DJ to create a club version. Now, labels are allowing social audiences who can manipulate and remix songs on their mobile devices to take the reins. After all, social audiences are usually more in touch with their peers than music producers and executives from labels could be. 

These new trends also allow labels to put out new music to cater to audiences in multiple ways. They can promote new music on social with sped-up versions while also maintaining original versions. 

Considering how vastly the soundscape has changed in just a few short years, we see endless possibilities for the future of music and social media.

If you missed the first three segments of our H2 Social Trends series, you can find the data deep-dives here: 

In the fifth and final part of our H2 Social Trends series, we’ll cover e-commerce

As brands and creators prep for the holiday season, Tubular is diving into all the shopping trends and consumer data. 

If you can’t wait until next week to have all the data, download the full report here:

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