In the past couple of years, TikTok has become a phenomenon, with millions of users in almost every country. And while it has been used primarily for meme videos and edited music videos, the platform is becoming a place for musicians to share their music with fans and promote their latest releases.
With more than 600 million active users, the TikTok social video app has the potential to be an effective way to promote your music, making it a useful tool for musicians. The fast-growing social media platform already boasts more watch-time per user than YouTube. Would you consider using TikTok for your music promotion? Do you already have some success and are looking to take it to the next level?
What makes the app unique is its simplicity: you can create and share viral short-form videos with the touch of a button. No wonder it’s popular among millennials and Gen Z. In fact, over 60% of TikTok users are between the ages of 10-29.
For musicians, TikTok can be an excellent place to share your songs and push your brand. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to tips and tricks you need to start topping the TikTok charts. We’ll also give you some tips to beat the algorithm.
Promoting Your Music on TikTok
Building your brand is the first step to promoting your singles or albums. Always keep in mind that you should create content around a unique theme or subject area.
Aside from helping you build your brand on TikTok, being focused also helps the algorithm match your music to a theme, and helps deliver your music users who like your type of content. You can create content in a variety of niches, but consistency is key to building a loyal following.
Another crucial strategy to building your TikTok brand is to use hashtags as you would on Instagram or Twitter to help make your content discoverable. It’s worth creating your own hashtags. Why not? You’re creative, be creative! New hashtags may not catch on quickly, but you might soon have a viral hashtag if you keep at it.
One popular TikTok hack is to reverse engineer already popular hashtags. Find hashtags that are trending and piggyback on the trend. Using these trending hashtags with your content increases your chances of becoming visible on the “For You” and “Discovery” tabs as well. You can find trending hashtags and hashtag challenges by clicking on the Discovery tab at the bottom of the mobile app.
You can also ensure that your music is heard by joining trends and participating in challenges. TikTok thrives on trends and challenges, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find one.
For instance, several top artists create cover challenges around their music. Pick a catchy song by an artist you respect and admire, and give it your best shot; imagine how many followers and traction you’d gain if that artist shared your entry.
Remember that the goal is to be consistent. A trend may be popular, but if it has nothing to do with the theme you’ve chosen, then you should avoid it. Also, be sure to avoid hashtags that have been banned.
Finally, post announcements about your songs or album releases on your TikTok page. Create an announcement video and use snippets of your new piece as a soundtrack. Don’t forget to tag it using the relevant keywords so that your video will be shown to potential listeners.
A song challenge allows you to get your followers involved in your new song. The best challenges are simple things that everyone can try out. You can give your new music a twist with some easy, unique, and fun dance moves anyone can copy. This will boost engagement and get your message out.
Understanding the TikTok Algorithm
TikTok’s algorithm may seem complex and difficult to understand, but it’s actually straightforward. In a recent press release, the company outlined key factors that determine how well a video ranks in a press release:
- User interaction
- Video information
- Device and account settings
Let’s examine each in a bit more detail.
First, your audience needs to engage with your videos to rank well and appear in “For You” feeds. A video posted by an account that has more followers is likely to get more traction. That’s why we mentioned earlier that on TikTok, it’s essential to focus on building a loyal audience base.
Similarly, videos with more likes, shares, and comments are likely to become more popular on the app and be recommended by the TikTok algorithm. Your first set of shares, likes, and comments on a particular video determines how the algorithm recommends it to others in the future.
Secondly, the information you add to your videos makes a world of difference. For instance, videos without captions are less likely to generate audience interest. Captions, especially juicy and click-worthy ones, act as a hook and draw an audience.
Imagine how a caption like “The best Celine Dione cover you’ve ever heard” can entice many people to click and see if it’s true or it’s just a wild claim. You can also make captions personal. Something like “Listen to this if you’re going through a heartbreak” is sure to get attention from people in that situation.
In addition, you should add relevant hashtags to your videos. Users often search for content using hashtags, and if your content is up there, you’re likely to get some views. For instance, if you’re taking part in a challenge, make sure you use the relevant hashtag to gain traction. You only have 150 words for your caption and hashtags, so use them wisely.
You can even add more than one hashtag so that your content cuts across different interests and trends. Whatever the case, make sure you don’t use banned hashtags. Your account could be suspended for such violations.
The final metric that TikTok itself mentions is your device and account settings. This means that factors like your location, language preference, and device type have a bearing on your video’s rankings and popularity. For instance, if you post videos from the U.S., there’s a good chance that many of your viewers will be from that country.
Ultimately, your best bet for viral success is producing great videos. Invest your time in understanding what cool video content works and invest in equipment for creating high-quality videos. This doesn’t mean you should buy top-of-the-range equipment.
Your phone might even suffice in most cases as you can shoot videos in the recommended 9:16 vertical format. But you might need to get some lighting equipment and a microphone to ensure good production.
If you have video editing software, all the better. That way, you can tweak your video to make sure it’s inch-perfect. However, TikTok has editing features that allow you to add text, stickers, filters, and sound effects to your video.
TikTok Ideas for Musicians
Whether you’re a new artist or you’ve been in the music industry for a while, there are ideas you can incorporate on your TikTok account to ensure that you reach your target audience.
For one, you should focus on posting shorter videos. Although your videos can be as long as 60 seconds, videos that are around 15 seconds tend to perform better on TikTok. The sweet spot is between 12-13 seconds. Regardless of how long your videos are, you should try to hook your viewers in the first few seconds.
Then, we recommend that you ride on the popularity of others. You may be eager to upload your own music posts, but posting covers can reach more people who might not have heard about you, especially if you’re an upcoming artist.
Search for popular songs that are trending and create a cover. Several other musicians on this platform are probably doing covers of the music you’ve chosen, so you have to ensure that the content you’re putting out is memorable and share-worthy.
Beware of copyright infringement issues, though. The last thing you want is to be slapped with a lawsuit just because you performed a cover on TikTok.
Posting tutorials is another excellent way to build your brand as a musician. A tutorial can cover anything from the lyrics of your song to the story behind your song. You can even take your viewers through vocal exercises. Whatever you do, try to add an element of fun as that’s what TikTok is all about.
Finally, if you have the funds, you can use TikTok influencers to spread the word about your music. Popular influencers on the platform include names like Jason Derulo, Addison Rae, Josh Richards, and Charli D’Amelio. Make sure you choose influencers whose fanbase is your target audience.
How to Get Your Music on TikTok for Free
As a musician, you can’t just upload your music on TikTok; you need to go through a music distributor. Fortunately, several music distributors allow you to upload your music on TikTok for free.
Distrokid, for example, allows you to get your music on several social platforms, including TikTok, easily. If you want to add new music to TikTok, just select the TikTok checkbox during upload.
For songs already available on Distrokid, follow these steps to add your music.
- Sign in to your Distrokid account
- Click on Add to More Stores
- Select TikTok
- Click on Add
If you don’t see TikTok in the options provided, you’ve probably already selected it, and your music is on TikTok.
Like other platforms such as Spotify, TikTok pays musicians for their music. However, royalties are calculated differently. The social media app pays you for the number of videos made with your song. So even if the video has no viewers, you still get paid as long as your music is among the releases in the TikTok music library.
Whenever your music is used in a video, your distributor receives your royalties and pays you accordingly. However, note that you won’t receive royalties if you upload music on TikTok by yourself without going through a distributor.
Use this TikTok Earnings Per View Calculator to find out how much artists can earn on the platform.
How to Find Your Music on TikTok
To search for your music, open the mobile app and go to the Discovery tab. Type your name or the title of the song you want to find. Remember to search using the name attached to the song. When the search results have loaded, go to the Sounds tab, and you’ll be able to see all your releases.
You’ll see the number of people on TikTok that have used your music on the right-hand side. You can also get insights into what they’ve used your music for.
TikTok Analytics Tools
If you have a TikTok pro account, you can track your performance directly from the app without downloading an analytics app. You can monitor your users’ engagement and see how well your account is doing right from the analytics dashboard.
If you want to switch from your regular account to a Pro account, follow these steps:
- Go to your profile page and click on the three dots at the right-hand corner of your screen
- On the drop-down menu that appears, click on Manage My Account
- Click on Switch to Pro Account
- Select an appropriate category and gender
- You’ll be asked to provide the confirmation code sent to your phone number
If you don’t want to use a pro account yet want to check your analytics, you’ll have to download an analytics app. Let’s take a look at some analytics apps and their features.
Analisa is an analytics app that helps track your account performance on social media apps like Instagram and TikTok. It has features such as content and influencer optimization, profile analysis, and follower demographics.
This app allows you to search by TikTok usernames and hashtags. You’ll be able to track how many people like your videos, leave comments, and even share your videos. The charts are easy to understand, even if you’re a beginner.
Another app that helps you track analytics is TikLog. It allows you to analyze your profile, track hashtags, and trace your competitors’ accounts. With access to the growth of your subscribers and other indicators, you’ll be able to adjust your account to extend your reach.
This list won’t be complete if we don’t mention Exolyt. This analytics tool was created with TikTok in mind. It’s designed to help you monitor the progress of your videos.
With Exolyt, you can compare two TikTok profiles to determine which is bigger and has more follower engagement. You can also compare total views and total followers. The amazing thing about Exolyt is that you can track your progress daily.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Musicians Use TikTok?
Yes, TikTok is a platform that both underground and mainstream musicians use for promoting their songs and building a fan base.
Can I Sing Cover Songs on TikTok?
Absolutely, nothing stops you from doing covers, except if the song owners have placed a ban on it.
Which is Better for Marketing Music? Instagram or TikTok?
TikTok is better. Although Instagram has a larger user base than TikTok, most content focuses on beauty, travel, and food. In contrast, TikTok thrives on music-backed video content.
What Makes TikTok Unique for Music Promotion?
A whopping 75% of TikTok users say they discover new music through the platform. With so many producers, labels, and music artists on the platform, it’s the perfect place to get your music out.