Meet TikTok's Newest Stars: Frank Sinatra and John Lennon

No one can escape the quest to go absolutely viral: it doesn't matter if you're a child or have been dead for decades. TikTok's growth and success as a major social media platform has unsurprisingly led to major record labels seemingly using the platform to try to turn Gen Z onto some of the 20th century's biggest stars like John Lennon and Frank Sinatra.

The revelation was pointed out by journalist Dave Jorgenson (who runs the highly entertaining Washington Post TikTok account), who joked that Old Blue Eyes was an "exciting new artist." Seeing as Sinatra's TikTok account is verified and only follows the Universal Music Group and Capitol Records, it was most likely launched by UMG.

Check out this exciting new artist on TikTok

— Washington Post TikTok Guy Comma Georgia (@davejorgenson) December 4, 2020

Of course, don't expect to see Sinatra dancing along to "Savage" anytime soon. He died in 1998. The account features short clips of Sinatra performing some of his biggest songs like "Luck Be a Lady" or "My Way" at various concerts from his lifetime.

Lennon's TikTok account features similar archival footage of the Beatle, with some interview footage mixed in with the musical performances. It also features videos of Lennon's son Sean Ono Lennon lighting up New York's Empire State Building blue for the rockstar's 80th birthday. Lennon's account notes that it is run by his estate in the bio.

Looking through different labels and music conglomerates reveals that there are actually a number of dead musicians who have accounts on the app. George Michael and Whitney Houston both have TikTok accounts. Houston's does not follow any accounts, but Michael follows both TikTok and Sony Music's UK branch. Like Lennon, Houston's account notes that it's run by her estate.

While finding the accounts for the long dead musicians may feel strange, many have been active on the app for a few months. Lennon's first video was posted in September. Both Sinatra's and Michael's were in October. Houston's first post was in November.

Even if it doesn't feel right to see artists who have passed on to the great concert hall in the sky on TikTok, dead musicians having social media is nothing new. Lennon, Sinatra, and Michael all have verified Twitter accounts, mostly used as promotional tools for reissues, posthumous releases, etc. All four of the above listed musicians have verified Instagram accounts.

Aside from the occasional ad promoting something like a boxed set or a music video on YouTube, it seems the real reason that these accounts pop up is as a means of getting those artists' music onto the app. According to Digital Music Distribution platform TuneCore, artists can make money and collect royalties off of TikTok. Posts from some of the artists accounts specifically mention their music now being available on TikTok.


Finally George Michael's music has arrived on @tiktok! Celebrating George's career, humour, heart and individualism. #GeorgeMichael #FYP #Music

♬ original sound - George Michael

"Finally George Michael's music has arrived on @tiktok! Celebrating George's career, humour, heart and individualism," one of George Michael's posts read.

Introducing a new generation to these musical icons is an obvious benefit to these catalogues being on TikTok. While you can explore the archives of some of these famous artists with the clips posted on TikTok, more excitingly there's a chance to try to make a viral dance to "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" or "That's Life."

Newsweek reached out to Universal Music Group for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

In this photo illustration, the social media application logo, TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on an American flag background on August 3, 2020 in Arlington, Virginia. Various deceased musicians have popped up on the app with verified accounts, seemingly as a way to promote their back catalogue. OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP/Getty