When 25 year-old Robyn Ottolini posted a sample of her hit song f-150 on TikTok, she had no idea it would take off.
“Everybody started to use my sound and it went from like 1,500 users to 35,000 users,” says Ottolini, raised in Uxbridge, Ontario. “It went viral I guess on streams like spotify and other services. I just had people saying, ‘Hey, it’s your video.'”
But it wasn’t just garnering attention from TikTok fans, it was also getting the likes she needed that would help her career.
“All the label executives were just like who are you?” she said. “Why don’t we know who you are?
“They were just like, oh wait, we like her as a person not just the song. And that’s when all the conversations started and then I signed with Warner Music Nashville.”
The song that went viral is called ‘F-150’ and is about a break up and the pickup truck her ex-boyfriend drove. Now it’s ended up driving the country music artist on the road to Nashville.
She signed with the label in October, but hasn’t met anyone in person just yet.
“Usually record deals don’t happen in less than a month. They usually want to get to know you, see if you’re a good fit,” says Ottolini.
“I just got really lucky.”
But because they aren’t going to the U.S. quite yet, it means her success also helps others in the region land jobs as well.
“We’re using photographers and videographers from up here,” says Mark Schroor, Ottolini’s manager. “That’s extremely rare for an artist signed to a Nashville label.”
The artist has been meeting people with Warner Music for Zoom meetings since the signing, but says it still feels like a dream.
“It doesn’t feel real. I signed it, but I’m still at my parents house and go to the local grocery store,” she says.
“When I go to Nashville and meet everybody, it will be like oh, I signed an American record deal. But right now, no, it’s not hitting me.”
Ottolini says music has been her life-long passion and started writing at just 13 years old. Her parents, who have supported her the whole way, say they couldn’t be happier.
“Really, really proud. I guess it’s very surreal,” says Lorraine, Robyn’s mom.
“I didn’t quite know what TikTok was and didn’t know what it meant at first,” she says. “After she told me, I was like, oh that’s great.”
With COVID-19 putting the whole music industry on hiatus, having platforms like TikTok is a great way for talent to be found, according to radio host Alan Cross.
“This is a good way to search for new talent and maybe find somebody that you can develop for when the vaccines come online and we can go back to having shows,” he says.
The host of The Ongoing History of Rock and Roll on 102.1 The Edge, Cross says he expects a lot of so-called ‘quarantunes’ to come out in the near future.
“We’re probably going to end up with more music than we know what to do with because everyone has been locked down with nothing to do,” he says.
Now Robyn and her team are working in overdrive as they get ready to launch a new music video and begin her Nashville journey.