Rock

Fleetwood Mac's 'Dreams' Team: Making the Most of a Viral Moment

Fleetwood Mac
Danny Clinch

Fleetwood Mac

For as many new songs as TikTok helped make popular in 2020, the clearest illustration of its influence this year might have been the chart resurgence of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” — a rock perennial that first ruled the Billboard Hot 100 in 1977 and made it all the way back to the top 20 this October. Here’s how an unassuming TikTok clip turned the Me Decade classic into a Generation Z smash.

Sept. 25: TikTok user @doggface208 posts a video of himself skateboarding to "Dreams"

A 15-second clip of 37-year-old Nathan Apodaca cruising on his longboard while singing along to “Dreams” and swigging from a bottle of Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice quickly captured the public’s imagination — and sent sales and streams of the song skyrocketing. “You started seeing the video translate into streaming numbers virtually overnight,” says Jeannette Perez, chief experience officer of Kobalt, Fleetwood Mac’s publisher.

Oct. 5: Mick Fleetwood joins TikTok, posts his own "Dreams" video

Fleetwood Mac’s management group, Shelter Music, seized the opportunity to get the band engaged with Apodaca’s viral moment, as CEO Carl Stubner enlisted group co-founder Mick Fleetwood to film his own no-frills response video (skateboard and Ocean Spray bottle included), keeping the “Dreams” momentum rolling. “He called me and said, “It’s pissing down rain. ... Do you want me to do it again?’ ” recalls Stubner. “‘No! One take, that’s all we want!’"

Oct. 8: "It starts on TikTok" commercial debuts

Within two weeks, the “Dreams” moment had grown large enough that TikTok debuted a TV commercial combining Apodaca’s initial video with 10 other response clips, including Fleetwood’s, in a simultaneous split screen. The spot, which aired heavily during the NBA Finals and the Billboard Music Awards, served to introduce the moment (and TikTok in general) to a wider, generation-spanning audience — including Shelter head of strategy Brian Frank’s mother. “She saw the TV spot on the NBA Finals,” he recalls, “and was like, ‘Oh, now I get it!’"

Oct. 13: Stevie Nicks joins in the fun

“Dreams” had been a viral phenomenon for weeks by the time the song’s principal singer and songwriter blessed the moment with her own gothic-tinged video. Nicks laced up roller skates at her piano while belting out lyrics as the song played on a nearby turntable. “It’s kind of like this game of improv, where people want to add their twist as it keeps going,” says TikTok head of music content and partnership Corey Sheridan, who worked with Nicks’ team to get her on TikTok. “By the time Stevie got into it, she did her own very Stevie thing.”

Oct. 17 "Dreams" reenters the Hot 100

With sales and streams of “Dreams” still spiking three weeks after Apodaca first uploaded his video to TikTok, the song returned Fleetwood Mac to the Hot 100’s top 40 for the first time in 30 years with its reentry at No. 21. It climbed to No. 12 a week later. Streams of the band’s overall discography doubled as well, an unprecedented (and possibly unrepeatable) boost that snapped the entire catalog industry to attention. “Managing other bands, everyone’s coming to us like, ‘We want this — how come I don’t have this?’ ” says Stubner. “And it’s like: ‘You can’t script this.’ This is something that just happened.”

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 19, 2020, issue of Billboard.