How TikTok influences the German charts: catalog return

TikTok is once again changing the music industry by affecting the charts in Germany.

Guest post by Jannick Steinke, Sebastian Gorki, Valerian Dilger by How Music Charts and chartmetic


Social media platforms like TikTok have undoubtedly become an integral part of our society, but they also influence user behavior and opinions. Anyone who is active on TikTok has probably experienced how certain songs suddenly appear multiple times in their stream and soon end up on the music charts. In this joint research project with Chartmetric, we sought to make this influence measurable and to analyze the musical impact of TikTok on the German charts leading us to the following hypotheses:

  • It can be assumed that TikTok influences the German music charts and that a significant part of the titles of the TikTok charts can be found in the charts of other streaming and media platforms as well.
  • Since the number of TikTok users has grown exponentially in recent years, it can also be assumed that its influence on other platforms has increased in this development as well.
  • And it’s likely that catalog titles in particular will regain visibility through TikTok and be sent off in a new round of success.

With total sales of $ 2.1 billion, the German recorded music market is considered the fourth in the world in terms of revenue. Unlike the leading US market, where in 2020 over 89% of revenue already came from digital stocks, the German market only accounted for a 71.5% share of digital revenue. Due to these proportions, we have decided to include not only the Spotify Top 200 Germany digital, the Spotify Viral 50 Germany and the Apple Music Charts Germany in the analysis, but also the Shazam charts, the classic radio charts and the charts. German officials (tables of values).


To visually represent the correlations, we created a heat map that crosses the correlation coefficients between the respective platforms.

If we define correlations of 0.5 or more as strong, correlations around 0.3 as moderate, and correlations around 0.1 as weak, we find that the official German charts and Spotify charts have moderate correlations with TikTok charts, with by far the strongest correlation occurring among the tracks in the catalog. The higher the songs in this category are positioned on the TikTok charts, the higher their ranking is in the official German charts. This finding suggests that TikTok can breathe new life into individual songs that are already of considerable age, namely over 18 months. And looking back at some of TikTok’s hits from last year, that finding is reinforced by some of the bigger viral thrills, such as Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” or Boney M’s “Rasputin”. In some cases, these songs do. even a full return. to the charts after its last appearance decades ago.

Digging deeper into the data, we mainly find moderate correlation coefficients between the different streaming charts (Spotify Top 50, Apple Top 50) and TikTok charts. Interestingly, the charts for the different streaming platforms don’t look much different, as the charts from Apple Music and Spotify show one of the strongest correlations. A plausible explanation for this is that the two platforms, as the largest music streaming providers, mirror the listening patterns of very large groups of customers whose music preferences do not appear to be much different on average.

For Spotify’s viral charts, the correlation was quite surprisingly low, which is probably due to the large fluctuation of the tracks in this charts. While we found the highest number of matches with 152 individual songs appearing in both TikTok Top 100 and Spotify Viral 50, this hit parade also showed very strong track fluctuation. In other words, songs are more likely to enter the Viral 50, as they change daily based on user interaction, which in turn results in a higher total track count. It could also explain the low correlation.

With radio considered to be an aging medium, it’s no surprise that it has a moderately negative correlation with the TikTok charts, meaning that a song on TikTok is already in decline when stations finally start picking it up.

We also examined whether the number of daily matches (songs that appear on both charts) between the German charts and the TikTok charts increased from November 2020 to April 2021. Since this does not appear to be the case and the number of matches has remained roughly the same, we cannot conclude that the importance of TikTok has increased during this period.

As a result of these findings and for the purpose of further consideration, the songs analyzed were grouped into categories distinguished by both release date and relevance at the time of release for Spotify (indicated by the appearance of the songs. in New Music Friday playlists).


Duncan Laurence’s catalog track “Arcade”, which did not appear in any New Music Friday playlists, showed a clear succession of platforms. According to the report, the song first developed on the TikTok platform and then was included in the Spotify Viral 50 chart. On Spotify, the song’s reach through playlists developed the most through custom playlists (most of all success stories studied), then through viral playlists in individual territories (in particular countries with Trigger Cities), to finally end up in the Top 50 Global Charts and the Top 50 Charts of the most sold. In the end, the catalog track ended up in the official German charts without even appearing in the radio charts.

Akansha Kumar, Jannick Steinke, Sebastien Gorky, and Valerian Dilger are students of music business at the Popakademie in Germany. They gained additional industry experience at companies such as Live From Earth, Electric Feel, Amazon Music, and Ease Agency. Over the past few months, we have been accompanying the students in their academic project to study how TikTok influences the German charts. This article highlights some of the main findings and is available as a full academic research paper here.

James R. Rhodes