How TikTok helped new emo artist RØSÉ get her viral song released
Hannah Collins walks us through the process of finally putting out the music she wants thanks to TikTok.September 10, 2020
After years of working in other genres, Hannah Collins knew it was time she released a track for the emo scene she loved so much. As RØSÉ, the 23-year-old took to TikTok to introduce her debut track, where it got a lot of support. Though “Are You Tired?” found its way to No. 2 on the iTunes rock charts after the song’s release (it currently sits at No. 5,) the process of getting there was far from clean cut.
On TikTok, the singer was known on the alternative side of the app for making funny, relatable content about Warped Tour and her favorite scene artists. When Collins took to the social media site to ask for support for “Are You Tired?,” she had no idea the kind of feedback the single would get. The song soon went viral among the community, and her follower count skyrocketed.
Despite the track’s success on the platform, finding a distributor who thought her track would be successful on streaming sites was anything but simple. Check out RØSÉ’s debut single “Are You Tired?,” the process of getting it distributed and what she has to say about sexism in the music industry below.
You used TikTok as a way to share “Are You Tired?” ahead of its release. Why use that platform versus other sites such as Twitter or Instagram?
HANNAH COLLINS: I had already been making weird, emo nostalgia, funny videos, so I didn’t necessarily think TikTok was going to be the platform for my music. I linked my music on there to say, “Hey, I also have an artist project.” [Because] people followed me because of my funny videos, I thought maybe they would go follow my Instagram. It ended up blowing up, and I ended up getting nine times the amount of followers that I already had within a single week.
My two videos about the song ended up getting a million views, so now it kind of is my artist page. That’s definitely where I got the most traction.
You’ve had posts about Warped Tour, concerts and the scene gain traction before, but the first post on your song was next level. How does it feel for your original music to reach so many people like that?
It’s honestly surreal. I’m making music, I’m working, the right people are helping me in production even though I’m a nobody, they’re cutting me deals and that sort of thing. Because all that was happening, I always just saw myself as seven steps down from what I idolized. I think this whole thing happening made me realize that people are willing to support me the way I support all these bands. The first time someone asked me if I had merch, I was speechless. Why would you want my name on anything?
It feels unbelievable right now, but I feel very blessed and happy and grateful that anyone listened at all. I’d done a couple of projects before, and they got maybe 200 streams. So the fact that I could even get a thousand plays within a day is unbelievable to me because that’s so much bigger than I even anticipated.
@listentoroseAlright emo kids check it out with headphones ##warpedtour ##emoo ##scene ##metalcore ##ptv ##sws ##fyp ##foryoupage ##adtr ##bmth♬ Are You Tired by Rosé – listentorose
You had difficulties getting the track distributed because it wasn’t seen as a priority until DistroKid picked it up. Can you give us more details and walk us through that whole experience?
I went through a new distribution company. Before the song even came out, my manager reached out and said, “Hey, this is the song. We’re thinking of distributing it with you. What do you think?” In the eyes of the music industry, a woman in music releasing rock music—rock hasn’t necessarily been at the top of the charts in years now, so they were probably like, “Yeah, that’s probably not going to do anything.” It really didn’t get any attention from anyone, but [the distribution company] gave us an “Oh, that’s cool” sort of response.
We put the song out through them, and when the song started blowing up, I reached out personally to them and looked at what they could do. They could either take 10 days or the most they could do was push the song out in a day or two, which is the same as all distribution sites. The issue with that is you’ll have songs on Apple Music or Spotify on different days. If you have someone blowing up, in a lot of cases what they’ll do is help you get that release out because it looks better on them to be able to say, “We have this artist that blew up that used us as distribution.” But it didn’t really feel like they were taking me seriously. I’m going to chalk it up to the whole rock thing.
When the song started blowing up, my manager emailed them himself and said, “It’s getting all these streams,” and they still wouldn’t get back to him. I just ended up emailing them and said that I’m pulling the song. At the same time, someone from DistroKid DM’d me and said, “I saw your video and that you’re having issues. Email me, I’ll help you out.” I was ready to have that song come out in four different places at different times and was defeated at that point. But the TikTok worked. So they reached out, and the guy manually went in and pushed it for me, and it all released the same day, which is exactly what I wanted.
@listentorose##duet with @listentorose thank you so much for your support time to show the emo scene what a girl can do! ##warpedtour ##emoo ##scene ##fyp♬ Are You Tired by Rosé – listentorose
As you were saying, being a woman in rock isn’t seen as “normal” in the industry, which is really unfortunate because there are a lot of great women and nonbinary artists out there who are pushing great music. Do you think this experience would have been different if you were a man?
In the music industry, as a female artist, it’s difficult. People will post things [with] female artists, but then when they’re posting “Top 10 artists that you should see now,” you’re seeing maybe one woman. Instead of incorporating them, you see all these posts where they almost put it in its own genre like “Top 10 women that you should see right now.” For me, I think a massive part of what I’ve been trying to do with my music and TikTok is draw more attention to female artists that are killing it.
Right now, my song is No. 2 on the iTunes rock chart, and I’m the only woman in the top 20, and then in the top 50, there are four women. It’s super unusual. I think, had I been a man in rock, I probably would have seen more traction or seen more attention from these companies. Because I’m a woman in rock, I think TikTok really supported me because they were like, “Yeah, it’s been so long since we’ve seen women at the top. Let’s do this. Let’s get this random unsigned girl help.”
Some will argue that sexism in the industry isn’t a problem or not as big of an issue as it used to be. Obviously, this isn’t the case. What do you think others in the music industry can do to make sure situations like these don’t happen?
We need to have companies that are pushing a lot more female artists and LGBTQ artists. We need a lot more men at the top drawing attention to it, and if they’re at the top of the charts, [they need to] point out, “Hey, look how few women there are.” And if there’s a ton of women at the top of the charts at that given time, they’re saying, “ How incredible is this? It’s been so long since a woman did this in the music industry.”
Right now, people don’t think the industry is sexist because it’s not overtly in their face at all times. It’s the same as when you’re sitting next to your sibling and he’s poking your arm. Is he really bothering you? No, but should your mom pay attention to [the fact] that for months and months he’s been pestering you, all day, every day? Yes, I would hope so because it’s irritating.
In one of your videos, you said you waited a long time to create and share this song. Despite all the difficulties you faced getting “Are You Tired?” released, why choose to drop it now? Why was now the right time to finally release a song in the genre you love?
I lived out in L.A., so when quarantine first happened, no one knew what was going to happen. So for the first few months, I went back to Ohio and was staying with my parents. I had my 23rd birthday sitting alone with my parents and little brother inside our house not being able to leave, eating pizza from Pizza Hut. Last year, I was celebrating my birthday at a club in Hollywood. In that place, it almost made me realize how old I was. I’m not that old at all, but I was like, “Man, I’m 23, and this just isn’t how I thought my life was going to be.” Living with my parents put me back in my high school emo phase. Putting myself back into that mindset like when I was actively involved with the scene made me really get inspired to write again within it.
Because I was living with my parents and unemployed, I thought, “What could I possibly lose by doing this?” If 10,000 people follow me on TikTok and hear a clip of my song and don’t like it, what am I going to lose? I’ve never met any of these people. Also, I’m a massive fan of the genre, so being sad, I listened to Pierce The Veil like every single day of quarantine because that has always been my biggest influence. Being around that music all day, every day just reaffirmed that this is the genre that I’m in love with. When you half-heartedly do something, it’s never going to take off. I think because I had to re-fall in love with the genre, I re-fell in love with making music at the same time, and I was way more inclined to put it out.
Now that you’ve released your debut single, do you have any plans to drop anything else in the coming months?
In the near future, I want to do a follow-up single. I want to be writing an album, but as of right now, I’m an independent artist. Funding an album by yourself and the level of production that I want to do, I don’t want to half-heartedly do it. I have to pick up a second job or something right now to do that. Ideally, within the next year, I want to have a full-length album out as well. Within the next month/two months, I want to have a second single out and ready for everybody to hear.