How a Viral TikTok Got Rosie a Record Deal and Her Dream Career

  • Rosie, a 21-year-old singer-songwriter from New York, went viral for her original song “Never be the 1” last year.
  • In the year since she signed with a record label and released a 7-track EP titled “20mg of Happiness.”
  • Rosie spoke to Insider about how online virality helped her forge a career she was ready to abandon.

Just over a year ago, Rosie Scher was about to give up her dreams of becoming a singer-songwriter.

The 21-year-old, who is a native to Nyack, New York, and goes by Rosie, had lost opportunities to connect with live audiences when the pandemic hit early last year. Before the pandemic, she’d perform at “gigs here or there,” she said.

“I truly had nowhere to go, no one to see,” Rosie told Insider from her apartment in Brooklyn. At the beginning of the pandemic she’d quarantined with her parents, she said, and she stayed home to protect her family, who she said were “high risk” of serious symptoms of COVID-19.

“I was ready to give up on being a musician and being an artist,” Rosie said. “Even though I’d really never given myself a try. I decided maybe I should try something less taxing and grueling.”

After the pandemic hit, Rosie resorted to posting covers on Instagram and singing on Instagram Live broadcasts. She also tried posting on TikTok at least two times earlier during the pandemic but found little success sharing her music on the app.

Her audience mostly consisted of her friends from college and people she met after moving to New York City. But that was until last summer when one of her songs went viral on TikTok.

In September 2020, Rosie’s original song “Never be the 1,” a catchy pop breakup song, went viral on TikTok and garnered her the overnight attention she’d dreamed of for years.

TikTok has seen a flood of songs from record labels to everyday users, becoming a go-to platform for discovering new music. Rosie joined the ranks of creators who used the app to intentionally launch a music career.

As of October, Rosie has released a 7-track EP titled “20mg of Happiness,” and at the beginning of November, she performed to a sold-out crowd of around 250 at Manhattan’s Mercury Lounge, a venue that often features up-and-coming and indie artists.

‘Rosie, check TikTok’



Rosie poses with a fan at her show in New York City on November 2, 2021.

Justin Schmalholz/ Provided by Matteo Scher

Rosie’s brother and manager, Matteo Scher, pushed her to commit to several weeks of consistently uploading videos of her songs to TikTok.

“He was like, just try posting them. Try posting 10. Try posting 20. And so I started a challenge on September 9th. It was day one of posting my music ’till I get some love,” Rosie said. “So I had committed to six weeks. I was like okay, after six weeks if I don’t get recognized, I think it’s time to rethink my entire life.”

She said she had about “a hundred songs stacked up,” by the time she posted to TikTok the chorus of  “Never be the 1,” which cleverly counts down from 10 to one. Given her past TikTok experiences, she hadn’t thought she’d go viral at all.

In the video, there is no editing, elaborate filter, or trendy dance or sound. It’s just Rosie, a junior year at the Berklee College of Music, singing into a microphone from her bedroom.

Over the past year since she posted the video, it’s gained over 4 million likes. More than 4,000 videos have been posted to TikTok using the sound from Rosie’s video.

Rosie was locked out of her new apartment when she found out her breakup song made a breakthrough on TikTok the day she uploaded her performance. With only a laptop, she connected to her apartment’s WiFi, and texted her roommate to ask her to let her in. That’s when she was bombarded with messages about her TikTok video.

“I received like 30 texts like, ‘Rosie, check TikTok, Rosie, check TikTok.’ And I was like, ‘what do you mean, what’s happening?'” Rosie recalled.

Thirty minutes later, she was in her apartment where could charge her phone and turn it on. Within hours, the video had reached 960,000 views, she said. She called Matteo.

“I was shocked,” Rosie. “I was like, what is happening? Do you think it’s going to hit a million? And he was like, shut up.”

“We thought the song was complex,” she added. “We didn’t think anyone would understand it. The chords, the theory, in terms of chord-wise and structure-wise, was bizarre.”

The sudden rise to popularity was, at first, taxing. She said she felt pressured to respond to every nice comment and direct message. She felt like she needed to post even more to TikTok. Eventually, she said she realized she was the only person putting that pressure on herself.

“As soon as I came to the realization, like even a couple of days later, I felt immediately better,” she said.

TikTok has opened a new pathway to the larger entertainment industry for some of its biggest creators. TikTok personalities like Addison Rae, Dixie D’Amelio, and Bella Poarch, who are individually some of the most followed creators on the app, have attempted to forge music careers outside the app with varying degrees of success. Notably, those stars ventured into music after they reached TikTok fame.

‘You have a moment. How do you turn a moment into a career?’



Rosie poses in the cover shoot for her EP “20mg of Happiness.”

Ragan Henderson /Provided by Matteo Scher

In the four months that followed the viral video, Rosie said she felt like she was living a “double life.” She was still attending virtual classes at Berklee, where she studied music therapy and songwriting, while she and her brother met with record company executives in person and over


to determine the best path forward.

“I truly do not remember most of it,” she said of her meetings across the music industry. “I remember telling my story over and over. I remember people telling me that I had a good catalog and I wasn’t just a TikTok artist. I remember the promises and the encouragement.”

Within the week after she went viral, Rosie said more than 10 labels had reached out, interested in signing her. Before she ultimately signed with Arista Records, she and her brother also worked quickly to retain a lawyer, and within a week, the two had selected a producer for the official release of “Never be the 1.” The song was released in October of 2020, just over a month after it went viral.

On its first day on


services, 130,000 people streamed the song, Matteo told Insider. The original TikTok version of “Never be the 1” has since reached 18 million views.

In December, Rosie made the decision to drop out of school to focus on her music. She had started to feel like she was wasting money and time staying in school while trying to establish herself as an artist. She was tired of “living the Hannah Montana life,” she said.

When looking for a label, Rosie said it was most important that she be able to maintain her brand

Rosie’s bio on Instagram states the brand plainly: “No filters, no Facetune, no Vsco, no makeup, 100% real content!”

Rosie said she had nothing against makeup or filters as a means of expression, but said she didn’t use them. Branding herself this way, she said, was the most authentic.

“The brand itself in my opinion is really hard to get across to people, because it’s like my brand is no brand,” she said. “My brand is: I am just a human being who wants to appear as a human being on social media.”



Rosie performs at the Mercury Lounge in New York City on November 2, 2021.

Justin Schmalholz/ Provided by Matteo Scher

Rosie said it was important to her to release the songs she wrote in her bedroom so she wasn’t in a rush to be paired with big-name co-writers and producers.

“We made it clear from the very beginning that we knew what we wanted, and we made it clear that those were the only ways we would decide,” her brother and manager said.

Most of the songs on “20mg of Happiness” were recorded in California with her producer, she said. “Retail Therapy,” the second of the seven tracks, was recorded in her bedroom.

“You have a moment. How do you turn a moment into a career?” Matteo said of the decision to record the EP, which was released October 22, after the success of “Never be the 1.”

Rosie described her EP as “cohesive” despite working with a team spread across the globe — in California, New York, London, and Greece — during the pandemic.

“So much of my career is controlled chaos, and TikTok is uncontrolled chaos,” Rosie said. “It’s just like you put it out there and you hope it does well. And I actually appreciate that about TikTok, because I think so much of a professional career, especially in music, is planned out and is meticulously crafted.

“And so when you have something as random as TikTok and an algorithm that changes every month, it’s actually quite exciting, but also unpredictable,” she added.

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