How Tiktok Influences the Music Industry (‘Driver’s License’ by Olivia Rodrigo)


Madison Dingee, Staff Writer

On January 8th, 2021, Tiktok exploded when Olivia Rodrigo released her latest single, ‘Driver’s License’. I don’t mean that there was just a couple of TikTok’s using her song as an audio, practically every TikTok you’d scroll through that day (and many more to follow) was her song and I want to talk about how this happened. Artists release music all the time and there’s a small percentage/likelihood that it’ll go viral on TikTok so what makes Olivia Rodrigo’s song different? Today I’d like to touch on how TikTok has a major role in determining an artists’ success, career, and if the said artist has potential (specifically Olivia Rodrigo’s). 


Olivia Rodrigo isn’t a “new face” in the entertainment industry, she’s been in Bizaardvark (a Disney show lasting from 2016 to 2019) and is currently in the new Disney+ series, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”. So with that being said, fans weren’t surprised to see her come out with a single of her own because she’s already had a big hit with ‘All I Want’ (a popular song in the Disney+ series I listed above). In “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”, Olivia Rodrigo’s character, Nina, has a romantic relationship with Joshua Bassett’s character, Ricky and it’s believed that the two actors carried that dynamic into their real-life (a.k.a. they dated if my phrasing was a bit confusing). I’m not quite sure how long these two dated but I would assume no longer than two years because Joshua Bassett is now dating Sabrina Carpenter who’s the famous “blonde girl” in Rodrigo’s song. I just wanted to preface all of this to indicate how most of TikTok was already familiar with Olivia Rodrigo and her relationship with Joshua Bassett, making her song even more explosive and drama-inducing. 


If you’ve never heard of or been on TikTok yourself, what’re you doing?! No, I’m obviously joking it’s probably better that you don’t have it for the sake of your sanity and screen time but that’s beside the point. TikTok’s a complex place to say the absolute least, whenever you’re trying to advocate for something you care about, there’s going to be haters lying away in your comment section, it’s inevitable. However, there’s nothing TikTok users relate to more than feeling heartbroken even if they’ve never experienced that pain before. Say you’re feeling left out, insecure, anxious, depressed, angry, any of the sad or mad-oriented emotions, teenagers (particularly on TikTok but also in real life) love drama and not feeling alone in our big, confusing, pandemic world.

Olivia Rodrigo’s song, ‘Driver’s License’, exhibits these feelings incredibly well, with her talking about how she’s always doubting herself when in the presence of “that blonde girl” (who fans think is Sabrina Carpenter) and how she understands that even though her relationship with Joshua Bassett (presumably) wasn’t perfect, she still loves him. Relatability means a lot to teenagers especially on TikTok because when a popular, young entertainment star like Olivia Rodrigo says that she too feels heartsick and insecure, it sparks a feeling of validation and comfort to the teenagers going through those emotions as well. Thus, helping Olivia Rodrigo’s song chart big numbers globally and also providing activism for mental health in general. 

Overall, I want to just congratulate Olivia Rodrigo on her immense and well-deserved success and only wish her even greater things in the future. Apart from the relatability and familiarity factor of Rodrigo’s song, I find the aesthetic of her music vide0 and her vocals absolutely breathtaking. I can say that Joshua Bassett claiming the songs great when it’s presumably about him is hilarious and definitely something I wanted to add in here. Joshua Bassett and Sabrina Carpenter have upon writing this, released “song responses” to Olivia Rodrigo’s song which in my opinion proves that her initial song was about them even further. Whether or not this whole situation with Rodrigo, Bassett, and Carpenter is a publicity stunt, it was still a fun ride to see all the memes and drama this created because it allowed us to escape our rather unpleasant reality, and isn’t that what’s most important? (Don’t worry, I’m aware of how cheesy that sentence was, we’re just going to roll with it, okay?) Okay great!