TikTok is currently a leading social media platform, with a 500% year-over-year growth since 2017 and 120 million monthly active users. For musicians, it’s not just a social media platform, it can turn independent artists into stars overnight and creates global hits, making it a music marketing phenomenon.
For reasons unknown to music industry professionals, TikTok still doesn’t seem to be part of every artist’s marketing strategy, even though it could be what blows up your next release. Although the app is a Gen Z playground, it’s time to get your head around it and start promoting your music on TikTok today as you’ll immediately start to see the results.
What is it?
Formerly known as ‘Musical.ly’, TikTok is a mobile app available on Apple and Android that allows users to film and upload short clips up to 15 seconds long, many of which are in a lip sync style using music from the app’s library.
Much like vine, TikTok has challenges that start trending, app stars who have millions of followers and the content is pulled on to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook due to its viral nature.
Much like other social media platforms, TikTok users can interact with each other by following, liking are re-sharing content, with the current most followed individual on the app being 17-year-old Loren Gray sporting a reach of over 31 million followers and a total of over 2030 million hearts and counting.
Get Your Music Used In TikTok Videos
Getting your track on TikTok is the first step and this can be done one of two ways. The first being through a distributor or Apple Music and the second being a more DIY method explained below.
Anyone can upload their own audio to the app and then this can be searched and used by others.
1: Upload a video with the clip of that track in that you want to use.
2: Click the profile photo in the bottom right hand corner
3: Name your sound, so you’ll want to go with the ‘Track Name – Artist Name’ so it’s easy for others to find
Get Your Music To Go Viral on TikTok
Now your music is available on TikTok, you need to get the track out there to TikTok influencers and users across the globe. This is completely do-able for any artist, no matter what level they’re at in their career.
The latest success story with TikTok is ‘Old Town Road’ by Lil Nas X. TikTok was crucial to the success of Hill’s ‘Old Town Road’ hit, which is now sat at number 15 on Billboard’s Top 100 chart. A hashtag for “#yeehaw” has manifested thousands of videos with more than 67 million play. Hill even states he felt he should be paying TikTok for the promotion and gives the platform all the credit for his success to date.
This didn’t just happen by Hill uploading the track to TikTok, he pushed the release in the exact same methods we’re going to explain. He used influencers, memes and challenges to guarantee his track went viral.
Which Track To Promote on TikTok
Before starting your promotion via TikTok, you need to make sure your track is TikTok friendly. Not all styles of music thrive on TikTok as it needs to give users something to create content around, lip sync to or develop a challenge on.
Most of the tracks that see great success on TikTok typically tend to have catchy memorable lyrics or lyrics that can be brought to life. TikTok content can be no longer than 15 seconds, so the clip needs to make sense as a stand-alone moment outside the context of the whole song.
The best way to find your most TikTok friendly track is to listen to them all in full whilst reading the lyrics. Play the track in 15 second clips to try to find lyrics or melodies that could fit with TikTok’s theme and content.
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Create A Challenge
To start engaging a TikTok audience, you yourself can create an account and post a challenge, you can pay an influencer to create a challenge or you can push your fans from other social media platforms to start a challenge.
Posting a challenge video yourself can definitely start engaging an audience on TikTok and potentially get your music viral. An example of this is Mxmtoon who started to create challenge videos for her music on TikTok and now has over 630K fans on the app and over 2.3 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
If you’re slightly camera shy and creating the TikTok content isn’t your thing, then perhaps you could look to invest in TikTok influencers to get your music viral. TikTok influencers are heavily in demand at the moment, with some of the world’s biggest brands turning to TikTok to expand their marketing campaigns. Still, TikTok influencers are cheaper than Instagram influencers, so it’s key you jump on this before their prices rocket up and your marketing campaigns cost a fortune!
To find these influencers, you can log in to the app and scroll through trending TikToks or search by hashtags relevant to the influencers you’re looking for. TikTok doesn’t allow you to private message other users unless you’re friends on TikTok, so the easiest way to find these influencers is via an Instagram search where you can DM them or they’ll have an email in their bio.
Allow the influencers to have control over the challenge they create as they’re the experts and have the knowledge of the app and a better understanding of what can go viral. In your pitch email, definitely give suggestions of what you think could work but make sure you allow the influencer to make the final decision as it’ll be a better investment if you give them creative freedom.
The final way to get a challenge trending on TikTok is to get your fans to join the trend. If you’re marketing your music correctly, pushing out social media content daily, you’ll have some sort of a following on Twitter, Instagram or YouTube, therefore you can use this audience to move across to TikTok. Depending on the demographic of your fans, you may find that many of them are already TikTok users, so you can upload an Instagram Story or Tweet your fans, giving them the challenge idea and the hashtag to get trending.
If your audience is slightly older, chances are they won’t be TikTok users, so you’re going to have to be slightly more persuasive with this demographic. You can turn the TikTok challenge into a competition, uploading an Instagram Story, Instagram post, Tweet or YouTube video explaining the challenge you’ve created. From here, you can persuade your fans to get involved by giving a prize to your favourite TikTok video uploaded. Try to be imaginative with this as a t-shirt or signed poster won’t persuade someone to create a TikTok account, get to know the app and then create their first TikTok. Instead, offer a prize that cannot be bought, such as a private gig in their house or a behind the scenes tour of your studio.
Hashtags on TikTok work similarly to Instagram hashtags, acting as a discovery tool for users. The hashtag you use for your own TikTok videos, or you get others to use, should be designed to easily go viral.
As mentioned before, Hills started #yeehaw, which has been used over 67 million times on TikTok. The hashtag is effective because it represents the artist, the track and the challenge that was trending. If you based your hashtag on those 3 factors, your hashtag could get the same results.
Duet with TikTok Influencers
An extremely interactive method of growing on TikTok is duetting with other users. The ‘Duet’ feature allows users to put their videos together, side by side as if a duet or reaction style video.
You can find similar artists to yourself who would want to duet to grow their fanbase or you can use the influencer technique we previously mentioned. Using an influencer to duet with can have immediate results as you’re reaching their audience easily.
You can also duet with your fans to increase fan loyalty. You can share it on your other social media accounts and make it a weekly series as that’ll keep your audience engaged, following your social media platforms and TikTok videos, eagerly awaiting the next one.
TikTok is one of the best way to promote your music right now but is also the future of music marketing. Get ahead of the game and start putting these tips into action straight way.
Major labels are moving quickly to sign artists with songs that perform well on TikTok, betting their popularity will transfer to other platforms but also sales. The evidence is right in front of us, so head over to TikTok and start promoting your music today.