The son of Music Ally’s editor has been regularly breaking out into “Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride, nobody gonna slow me down, oh no, I got to keep on movin’” in recent months. Why would a 10 year-old in 2020 have an earworm of a 1983 hit by American artist Matthew Wilder? TikTok, of course.
Wilder would never have as big a chart hit again, although he’s since carved out a good career as a songwriter and producer. Now he’s back in the charts though, thanks to ‘Break My Stride’ finding a new lease of life on Bytedance’s social video app, complete with a #BreakMyStride challenge to accelerate its resurgence.
The track has been popping up in Spotify’s Viral 50 and Apple Music’s Top 100 charts around the world, buoyed by support from in-house playlists (Spotify added it to its ‘All Out 80s’ playlist, which has 6.8 million followers, a month and a half ago, while Sony Music’s Filtr team has also got behind it. The track has been streamed 87.3m times on Spotify so far, many many times more than the rest of his catalogue (bar a ‘Mulan’ soundtrack song that has 53.9m streams).
Wilder is joining in and fanning the flames on TikTok, setting up his own profile on the app, and recording his own videos for the #BreakMyStride challenge. “Until Stride had exploded on TikTok, I was unaware of the platform. I had heard of it, but it wasn’t on my radar. It is now! TikTok has brought a whole new life to ‘Break My Stride’ and a new generation. I am so grateful and laughing so loud!” said the 66 year-old. A lyric video showing the song’s lyrics as modern-day text messages is imminent to ride the wave.
We wrote about Midia Research’s ‘song economy’ theory yesterday, and the lucrative, streaming and social-fuelled second lives of older tracks. The question for labels, as they scan their back catalogues for catchy refrains, is whether engineering this virality on TikTok in particular is as unlikely as catching lightning in a bottle.
Currently the strategy is generally to swing into action when a track goes viral organically, to amplify its effects on as many platforms as possible (particularly those that generate royalties). ‘Break My Stride’ is definitely seeing some of that, alongside Wilder’s refreshingly joyful embrace of his track’s new lease of life. But for any label with a catalogue harbouring similar songwriting gems of the past, it’s another spur to explore ways (non-cringey ways, as 10 year-olds would put it) to be the catalyst for this kind of virality, rather than just its happy beneficiaries.
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