Where the next music stars will blow up online

"We're definitely at the peak of TikTok. There'll be another platform," says Talya Elitzer of artist development company Godmode.

Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, from Kate Lindsay and Nick Catucci.🧩

Plus: The definitive answer on whether or not Olivia Rodrigo is an industry plant. —Kate

Lil Nas X just topped the Billboard Hot 100 with “Industry Baby” featuring Jack Harlow, his third No. 1. Taylor Swift released “Wildest Dreams (Taylor’s Version)” early because it was trending. Olivia Rodrigo exists. If you’re a music exec only hopping on the TikTok train now, Talya Elitzer says it’s probably too late. 

For the past five years, Elitzer has been shepherding up-and-coming musicians through the full range of digital platforms in her role at Godmode, an artist development company she cofounded with Nick Sylvester. She’s no stranger to the rise and fall of the Next Big App that’s going to Change The Music Industry As We Know It. 

“I remember doing this with Vine, [I remember] when YouTubers were the hot thing,” she tells me over Zoom. “There's always something and it's honestly the same exact thing in a different place.”

There's no perfect formula to blowing up on TikTok, although there has to be a right place, right time, and right TikTokker to make a song go viral. Elitzer works with a team of teenage “internet ninjas” who help identify opportunities for Godmode’s artists, which include LoveLeo, whose song “Boyfren” went viral on TikTok in December 2019, rapper JPEGMAFIA, and Channel Tres.

When a snippet of a song or video might be your one shot to launch an artist, it's crucial to make sure the artist makes a strong impression. “Artists have never been more interchangeable and almost anonymous,” she says. “And so something that we worked really hard on with all of our artists is to really make sure that when you encounter one of them, you really encounter a whole world that you didn't even know existed.”

In this interview for paid subscribers, Elitzer gets into the nitty-gritty of TikTok marketing, how much creators get paid to promote music, and the next digital platform she thinks the music industry should focus on.

This post is for paid subscribers