Tiny Music displays a drastic change in the band's sound, featuring music strongly influenced by '60s rock and bands such as The Beatles. Stephen Erlewine of Allmusic stated in his review of the album that "Tiny Music illustrates that the band aren't content with resting on their laurels" and "STP have added a new array of sounds that lend depth to their immediately accessible hooks," naming shoegaze and jangle pop as two examples of genres explored on the album. Erlewine also wrote that the album "showcases the band at their most tuneful and creative."Rolling Stone also favored the album, regarding it as the group's best effort to date. They expressed surprise, however, at "the clattering, upbeat character of the music" given Weiland's much-publicized run-ins with drugs and the law. The magazine also featured STP on its cover of issue No. 753 in February 1997.
In early 1995, shortly after the band was forced to scrap two weeks worth of recorded material, lead singer Scott Weiland was arrested for heroin and cocaine possession and sentenced to one year's probation. In the months following this incident, Weiland formed his own side-band, the Magnificent Bastards, and recorded songs for the Tank Girl soundtrack and for a John Lennon tribute album.
During this time the rest of the band decided put together their own side project, which would later become the band Talk Show. In the fall of 1995, when Stone Temple Pilots regrouped to record again for Tiny Music, Robert and Dean got together to figure out which songs should be Tiny Music songs and which songs should be Talk Show songs. Dean would later say "Robert and I had about 30 songs, and we sat in the room one night and basically went down the list and marked next to every song: Scott, Scott, Dave, Scott, Dave, Dave, Scott.... It's really weird, because in all reality it was like 'Big Bang Baby' could've been on [the] Talk Show record and 'Everybody Loves My Car' could've been on Tiny Music."
Issues with Weiland's drug use did not clear up after his sentence, and STP was forced to cancel most of their 1996-1997 tour for Tiny Music. Because of the tour cancellation, Tiny Music did not receive as much exposure as initially intended. The album was certified 2× platinum but was not as commercially successful as STP's first two albums.
The album cover features a woman doll in a swimsuit standing before a pool with a crocodile in it. The band said that they wanted "to create the old '70s and '80s LP kind of style to their cover." The album was released on CD, LP, and CS. The cover was made by Tom Carolin.