TikTok drives Olivia Rodrigo up into the Radio Charts

by Tommaso Rocchi
Published February 21st, 2021

If I had mentioned Olivia Rodrigo a few months ago, anyone above 16 years old would have just stared at me. Now, the singer and actress from High School Musical: The Musical: The Series has just passed the 5th week at Number 1 in the Official Singles Charts, reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in the first week of its release, accumulated more than 350 million streams, and earned the biggest weekly streaming debut for any song in US Spotify chart history (30.433 million).

@spoiledmel

can this be a trend? :rouge_d'embarras: #oliviarodrigo #driverslicense #fyp @livbedumb stream drivers license!!!!

♬ drivers license - Olivia Rodrigo

Ever before the first lockdown, TikTok has become the go-to platform for launching singles to the stratosphere. From the Mannequin Challenge on the notes of Black Beatles by Rae Sremmurd to the gigantic success of Old Town Road, the social network has proven that fandom is still the most powerful marketing tool available. Some of the biggest songs of the last decade rose to fame thanks to challenges, memes, and funny dance routines. More surprisingly, TikTok has even proven its effectiveness to revitalize some back-catalog like Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams.

Olivia Rodrigo’s song 'drivers license' is no exception. In fact, the viral platform has demonstrated that even a sad, heartfelt piano ballad is able to climb the rankings of what is perceived as a funny and whimsical social media. And radios didn’t take long to recognize the song’s potential.

From TikTok to Radio

TikTok users embraced drivers license immediately after its release on January 8th. As of now, the song is featured in 1.8 million posts on the platform, with the majority of interactions made between the second and third week of January. As for radio, you can see from the visualization that they took a more careful approach, with a slow rise that culminated in a global radio airplay count of 8,732 on January the 27th. Check out the interactive map below - you can click on specific countries to know what the total radio airplay is like there.

It’s no surprise for anyone that music reacts way faster online than on traditional media. Platforms like TikTok or Instagram have the incredible advantage of allowing users to share what they like immediately. At the same time, radio placements need to be approved by the music team before broadcasting. However, what could be seen as a massive disadvantage of a “relic of the old media” could actually represent a way to extend the life of a song.

Olivia Rodrigo - Driver's License

While TikTok and other social media have the undisputable advantage of getting immediate feedback, that same swiftness makes trends shorter than radio does. This is due to multiple causes, such as how the platform prioritizes ‘snack content’ and the constant refresh of the feed, increasing the velocity of consumption and consequently lowering the user’s attention span. A challenge that was extremely popular one day could be completely forgotten only a week later. "The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long", as Lao Tzu once said.

Since radio is way slower than social media, the whole “getting sick of it” effect is less prominent as well, and a song can easily aspire to stay in the charts for several months. In our previous data story, we saw how Dua Lipa managed to keep five singles on heavy rotation for an entire year. Even if we can see a consistent drop after the key date of January 27th, drivers license managed to keep an average of 5,400 daily airplays, and is likely to be on heavy rotation for the entirety of February (and beyond).

drivers license around the world

It’s fascinating to see how the song reacted in different markets, isn't it? Take a look! Click on the top cities or countries to check them on the map below.

While on a country basis, the United States dominates in terms of the overall number of stations and airplay, European cities represent an excellent market for Olivia Rodrigo too. 8 of the top 10 cities are located in northern Europe, making the American artist one of the top choices for radios in Vienna, Hamburg, and Zurich. It’s also pretty usual to see Italy on the podium as the third biggest country: proof that radio stations in Milan and Rome couldn’t get enough of it.

Traditional + New media

While TikTok can indubitably propel a single to the stardom, a mix of traditional and new media is the best strategy to keep your music up and running for a healthy and extended period of time.

But in any case, none would ever grow tired of this version:

@donaldducc

The red lights made it better 🦆😉 (IB: @spoiledmel )

♬ drivers license - Olivia Rodrigo

The power of your radio airplay data

This analysis was made using WARM. By exploring our data you are able to make in-depth analyses that will give you a clearer overview of the market. Knowing when and where your music is being played will allow you to discover emerging markets, insightful data about your fanbase, and plan your promotion and PR strategies more efficiently. Furthermore, you will have access to certified data to collect your royalties. Get started with WARM now and don't miss out on any opportunity!

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