At this point, it’s no secret that what TikTok creators possess is incredibly valuable. That’s why artist and celebrity teams throughout the entertainment industry are urging their clients to join in on the frenzy. It’s also where they’re going to find talent, like Los Angeles rock duo Loveless.
Multi-instrumentalist Dylan Tirapelli-Jamail and vocalist Julian Comeau have only been together just over two years and are already reaping the rewards of their social media success. Navigating the music industry can be a daunting task for any baby band, but not Loveless. “Honestly, it’s been kind of easy because the industry kind of ignored us,” says Comeau. “They didn’t really give a shit about us, so we just made a name for ourselves without them.”
“We weren’t really navigating the industry, we were navigating social media,” adds Tirapelli-Jamail. And they succeeded — amassing 1.2 million followers on TikTok. Hank Green sang along with Comeau in a TikTok duet, and their cover songs have millions of views. Lizzo even lovingly put them in jail for their take on “About Damn Time.”
@lizzo #stitch with @thisisloveless ♬ original sound – lizzo
With the original “About Damn Time” cover post garnering 7.4 million views plus the 4.2 million from Lizzo’s response, less than 60 seconds of content on an app gave Loveless exposure to an entirely new fan base. Comeau was surprised Lizzo even saw the TikTok: “My mom actually was like ‘Do you think Lizzo will respond?’ and I was like ‘No way.’” It was a major milestone for the band, especially for Tirapelli-Jamail, who originally hails from Lizzo’s hometown of Houston, TX.
That wasn’t the only cover Loveless posted to TikTok that got attention. After their take on Billie Eilish’s “Happier Than Ever” went viral, they followed up by releasing a full-length version to DSPs, getting over 1 million streams on Spotify alone in just two weeks. Their cover of Elley Duhé’s “Middle of the Night” has 12.5 million views on their original TikTok post and 11 million for a version that intertwines clips from a music video they made for the song. Their full-length version currently has over 13 million streams on Spotify, and it hit No. 1 on the iTunes rock chart and No. 2 on Billboard’s Hot Hard Rock Songs — behind My Chemical Romance’s “The Foundations of Decay.”
“When I saw our name second below My Chemical Romance, my 13-year-old self shit my 30-year-old self’s pants,” gleams Tirapelli-Jamail.
Where they’re grateful for the success their covers have seen, Loveless is far from a cover band. Their goal with posting these covers to TikTok is to get eyes on the band and most importantly, on their original music. That’s a strategy mirrored by the release of the more popular covers to DSPs.
“Even if like 1% of those people listen to an original song,“ Comeau sees it as a win. “I wanted to hit 1 million monthly listeners by the end of the year,” he says, “and we hit that goal in June.” When managers finally started to take an interest, this particular objective was laughed off. “We aren’t talking to those managers anymore,” quips Comeau with a smirk worthy of a frontman.
This wasn’t the only time the industry has brushed off the duo. “Quite frankly, they just look at us as less-than because we’ve made covers. I love these songs that we’re covering, but I don’t want to be perceived as less than an artist because I appreciate other people’s art. I think that’s unfair.” They also noted that it took months after they went viral for Spotify to give them editorial attention and no labels had been reaching out.
“In fact, we got turned down for [SiriusXM’s] Octane repeatedly. They told us they couldn’t play our songs because it’s not Active Rock, it’s not going to fit the mold, the listeners wouldn’t like it,” says Comeau. Soon enough, those tables turned. Labels, managers, and even SiriusXM have since reached out to Loveless.
After the success of “Middle of the Night,” they proclaimed “No more covers.” So why follow up with a cover of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” shortly after? “Because Octane asked us to,” laughed Tirapelli-Jamail. Caity Babs, on-air talent for Octane, reached out and asked them to cover the song for a “Stranger Things” special, but the song is still getting airplay on Octane.
They both love seeing the success of their covers beyond TikTok, as well as their short-form content on the app, but say it’s not as rewarding as making an original song. Even though their original music on TikTok is growing in popularity, the app’s algorithm tends to push content that isn’t inherently theirs. Comeau explains, “I’m very grateful to TikTok and its algorithm for how it’s given us a lot of our success, but at the same time it’s not built for artists to succeed; it’s built for the platform to succeed. And ultimately, spreading new music and getting new people to experience our songs and become fans is not profitable to TikTok.”
This is why TikTok is simply a tool, not the end-all-be-all for artists, they suggest.
Covering very serious topics with very catchy hooks, Loveless explores “the darker, sadder parts of their psyches, but in a way that’s fun to listen to,“ explains Comeau. And they’re just starting to scratch the surface. “Guitars, pop punk, and metal will always be a core part of our foundation, but there’s a lot more that we want to do.”
Growing up listening to everything from jazz and musical theater to punk, there’s more to explore sonically, visually, and thematically. Their debut album was fully written by the time Comeau dumped his band and fully embraced a musical love affair with Tirapelli-Jamail. They know who they are as writers individually, but now they’re really discovering who they are as Loveless. This journey to discovery will be on full display with their forthcoming EP, “End of an era,” slated for release in early September.
“Even though a lot of the lyrics are dealing with dark things and kind of troubled, intrusive thoughts, I think there’s an air of hopefulness and really trying to find the joy in pain,” says Comeau. “I live with a chronic mental illness. It’s not like I’m anxious about something going on in my life, I’m always fucking anxious. Instead of being destroyed by that, I decided to find some hope in that.”
“Our dreams for this project have grown significantly,” says Comeau. They’ve signed to UTA and have started getting attention from several record labels. With a growing fanbase and live shows on the horizon for fall, they’re taking it all in.
“I’ve played in a lot of different bands, and I’ve had a lot of different roles in the industry. None of it felt like mine,” says Tirapelli-Jamail. “Having something that’s part of me see any success is validating in a way.” And to other new artists attempting to use TikTok as a tool for success, stop being your biggest critic and start being your biggest fan. Offers Comeau, “You have to love what you’re doing, otherwise, how is anybody else going to?”