Halsey and their record label aren't seeing eye-to-eye as of late. On Sunday morning, the singer posted a TikTok (that later went viral) expressing frustration with their label, saying they were barred from posting a “song I love” because of marketing plans.
"Everything is marketing," Halsey said — also sharing a snippet of the song-to-come. "And they are doing this to basically every artist these days. I just wanna release music, man. And I deserve better tbh. I'm tired."
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But Halsey isn't the only musician fed up with the recent push to churn out TikTok content in the quest for track virality. Florence Welch, Charli XCX and FKA Twigs have all recently posted on the app giving fans insight into their latest stressor. While we know Florence would be a cottagecore icon, forcing the decades long queen of ethereal indie pop onto TikTok feels like a step too far.
what tiktok has done to the music industry is upsetting like… pic.twitter.com/bSJ0EIVfv1— allure (@alluregaga2) May 22, 2022
For Halsey, the latest pressure from their label was the last straw.
"I’ve been in this industry for eight years and I’ve sold over 165 million records and my record company is saying I can’t release it unless they can fake a viral moment on TikTok."
Halsey continued the conversation on their Twitter, sharing that even the viral TikTok about having to make a viral TikTok — which feels like a weird form of meta performance art — was not enough to confirm the release of their song.
Talked to my label tonight after my tiktok tantrum. They said “wow the tiktok is going really strong!” I was like ok cool so can I release my song now? They said “we’ll see!” 🙃 tell me again how I’m making this up.— h (@halsey) May 23, 2022
The whole situation feels a little too ironic, but Halsey also addressed the commentary that their “tiktok tantrum” was a marketing ploy in and of itself.
I’ve been minding my own business on tour taking care of my baby. Four albums deep. Coasting. I’m way too established to stir something like this up for no reason or resort to this as a marketing tactic but now I’m in too deep so there’s no going back 🤷🏻♀️— h (@halsey) May 23, 2022
Halsey, who was previously signed to Astralwerks, is currently with Capitol records, who has not commented on the singer's dissatisfaction. Astralwerks played the good guy, though, sharing their support.
“Our belief in Halsey as a singular and important artist is total and unwavering," they said. "We can’t wait for the world to hear their brilliant new music.”
The wait may be longer than anticipated, but Halsey shared they are toying with the idea of playing the song live, without a formal release, while on tour. The Love and Power tour is currently running throughout North America with Beabadoobee, The Marias, Äbby Roberts Wolf Älice and, of course, TikTok’s princess, PinkPantheress.
Raising the question of when virality can help versus when it hurts artists, Halsey’s complaint sheds light on the way the music industry aims to manipulate fans; PinkPantheress’ sudden success was fan-first, with songs like “Pain” going viral as TikTok sounds, meanwhile, Halsey’s label trying to fake virality takes the TikTok music model a step further.
With other artists having spoken out against industry demands, like Doja Cat’s tongue in cheek Taco Bell ad on TikTok, it seems many are growing weary of an industry that prioritizes content over creativity, and if it means more haunting Charli XCX turned Chucky TikTok filter videos, maybe we’re tired too.
lol going on in 5 see you in a sec MANCHESTER
Photo via Getty/ Axelle/ Bauer-Griffin/ FilmMagic
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