TikTok is full of leaks, and someone needs to patch them up.



The TikTok logo as it appears on the app store.

Mason Montano, Music Editor

If you’ve recently come in contact with any member of Generation Z, then you’ve probably heard or seen them using an app called TikTok. 

TikTok is a social media platform that allows the user to make short-form video content, usually 10 to 15 second-long clips of themselves dancing or acting out funny skits, that’s become increasingly popular among younger demographics over the past year, and as you can probably assume, music is a big part of the app’s content.

One of TikTok’s primary features is the ability to import music and audio into one’s videos, and while this may not seem like a bad thing at first, some of the most popular songs on the platform are actually unreleased, leaked music. This is not okay.

Leaks in the music industry are a result of someone on the inside uploading files containing unreleased content, usually songs in large quantities, onto the internet, either intentionally or by accident.

Accidental leaks occur when a label publishes music before the intended release date — Canadian singer-songwriter and visual artist Allie X’s unreleased song “Sculpture” briefly appeared on streaming platforms in September 2018 before it was taken down — or if physical copies of an album are shipped out too early — the cassette pressings of American singer-songwriter and poet Lana Del Rey’s sixth studio album, Norman Fucking Rockwell!, were erroneously shipped two weeks ahead of its scheduled release in August 2019 — and while extremely frustrating, they are usually easily rectified and resolved rather quickly.

Intentional leaks are a different story, as they are often malicious in nature and occur when disgruntled producers or management leak music out of spite — after his falling out with American singer-songwriter and actress Lady Gaga, American producer Rob Fusari leaked an old song that they made together called “Reel Cool” in May 2012, and a legal battle ensued — or if an artist is hacked or scammed — English singer-songwriter Charli XCX’s Google Drive was infamously doxxed in August 2017, and the entirety of her original third album was leaked online alongside countless other unreleased songs and demos, resulting in the record getting scrapped altogether.

Not all leaks are malicious, however, as an artist will sometimes leak their own music when a former label refuses to relinquish ownership of older songs — American rapper and singer-songwriter Brooke Candy leaked the demos that she made during her time with RCA Records in December 2018, as the cost to buy them back was reportedly extremely high — when a sample is unable to be cleared — American singer-songwriter Slayyyter leaked her song “Sweet 16” in May 2019 due to an uncleared sample of American singer and actress Lesley Gore’s 1964 hit “It’s My Party” preventing it from seeing an official release — or if a song is simply not going to get released, and the artist still wants it to be heard — German singer-songwriter Kim Petras leaked her song “Dark Part of Your Heart” in September 2018 as a gift to her fans.

Unfortunately, the songs that are being used on TikTok were not leaked on accident or by the artists. They were leaked on purpose with malicious intent. 

For example, two popular TikTok songs belonging to Lana Del Rey, “Serial Killer” and “Queen of Disaster”, were recorded in 2011 for her sophomore album, Born to Die, but were ultimately cut from the final tracklist. In early 2013, her laptop was stolen and an entire career’s worth of unreleased songs and demos appeared online, including “Serial Killer” and “Queen of Disaster”, and now, they’ve found their way onto TikTok.

Another example, and one that really makes my blood boil, is the fact that people are using American singer-songwriter and producer Ayesha Erotica’s music on the platform. 

Erotica was a prominent figure on the underground pop music scene before she quit music in late 2018 after she was doxxed and personal information about her was leaked online. As part of her retirement, she deleted all of her music and social media accounts, and she made it clear that she did not want people sharing her music or using photos of her. Her “fans”, however, didn’t listen and have continued to reupload her music, leak new music, and share photos of her against her wishes; and having known this had been going on, I was horrified to see people making TikToks containing her songs. 

The spreading of these leaks is not only disrespectful to the artists and distressing to the fans, but it infringes copyright laws, as the material is essentially their stolen property, and people shouldn’t even be allowed to listen to them on YouTube or SoundCloud let alone freely use them on TikTok.

To see a platform that encourages creative freedom and creators’ rights host the spreading of leaks is extremely disappointing, and if they don’t impose some kind of regulation over what music can be shared on their platform, they could potentially face some pretty heavy lawsuits. These leaks need to be patched up immediately.

And one more thing: Leave Ayesha alone!

Lana Del Rey in the music video for her cover of American ska punk band Sublime’s “Doin’ Time”.