Music fans are always on the lookout for the next big thing. Music artists want to be the next big thing. Influencers want to be the ones that discover the next big thing. That hasn’t changed since the long-ago days of Elvis Presley and the Beatles. What has changed—what is always changing—are the platforms on which artists break. You may have heard of TikTok.
If you’re at all aware of social media and pop culture, you’ve at least heard of this video streaming service. It’s where the current two-time Grammy winner Lil Nas X blew up after uploading “Old Town Road” and a meme to the service. He spent a few months promoting it, but it really got a boost when fans began uploading their own content to TikTok in what came to be called the “Yee Yee Juice Challenge.”
That viral burst sent “Old Time Road” to the Number 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart where it stayed for 17 weeks. The vast majority of fans who uploaded content for the Juice Challenge didn’t know they were influencers, but they were the driving force behind the success of this song.
TikTok is a video-sharing service with over 689 million monthly active users worldwide. It has been downloaded over 2 billion times. The videos that users upload to the platform can be up to 60 seconds—and they’re played against an audio clip which is usually music. Sure, they may be amateur-looking recordings, but that’s part of their appeal which is real people trying to be funny, or look sexy, or be cool, and many times failing on all fronts.
TikTok says that in 2020 over 70 artists that broke big on their platform went on to sign major label deals. Artists such as Priscilla Block, Tai Verdes, Powfu, Claire Rosinkran, and Dixie D’Amelio are included in that group. TikTok also revealed that over 176 songs played in videos that got over 1 billion views. That’s a small percentage of the songs heard on TikTok, but an amazing number of people heard those songs.
If you're a musician or songwriter having your music backing a viral TikTok video would be a lucky break. Influencers make that happen, but more on that later.
A good thing to keep in mind about TikTok users is their age demographic. According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 48 percent of adults in the United States between the ages of 18 and 29 use TikTok. That’s almost half, but that figure goes down to 20 percent in the 30 to 49-year-old range. For those over 50, forget about it. So, if you’re going for the 18-29-year-olds, you’ll have a pretty big potential audience waiting to lip-synch and dance to your music.
When you are a TikTok user the platform creates a unique user feed for you (it’s called the ‘For You Page’ for a reason). Active users will see content that is tailored to them specifically. This is all performed by one of those algorithms that seem to run the world these days. Once an artist has their song featured as a snippet in a video, that video starts to appear in the For You Page of other users. If they like it, they may respond with their own video referencing it and it takes exactly two clicks for them to use the same audio clip in their video.
Once that starts happening, and someone lip-syncs to your song, others may do the same. The potential is there for a chain reaction that could send that song viral thanks to the algorithm that keeps pushing similar videos to other users. This is also made possible by the use of hashtags and other tools, but first, you need to make your music available on TikTok.A key aspect to understand: there is a ton of randomness built into the TikTok algorithm. That's why when working with influencers, it's best to spread your budget across as many as possible. Think of it this way -- every time an influencer posts your song, you're pulling the slot machine lever of virality. The more times you pull the lever, the better chance you have to hit the jackpot. Jackpot = viral.
Getting your music on TikTok isn’t difficult but you will need to go through a third party like CDBaby or Ditto. Once your music gets added to the music library’s music distribution services they’ll be available on dozens of platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. Once your music is available on the platform, there are a few things to keep in mind.
TikTok is more about the users than the artists. It’s not about making you the center of attention. It’s about encouraging users to use your song in their videos, so you have to make it about them.
Most artists think the last song they wrote is their best one yet. It may be, but it also might not be and if it isn’t catchy or fun then it probably won’t capture the imaginations of TikTok users. That said, consider your entire catalog and not just your latest efforts. Find the best one for your intended audience.
Hashtags are your friend. Put some thought into the ones you’ll create. Influencers are skilled in the art of the hashtag, which is another great reason to partner with one to promote your music on TikTok. The more popular a video starts to get the more it is pushed to an ever-expanding audience. Hashtags are a great way to boost exposure.
Once your music is available there are things you can do to increase the chances one of your songs will trend.
Since videos are only up to 60 seconds long, it needs to be catchy. If there’s a hook in it, it better be featured quickly. It should also appeal to TikTok’s users who tend to be younger. A good hook with a catchy, simple, easy-to-understand lyric is the way to go if you want to go viral.
TikTok users love a good challenge so give them what they want with contests. When users get creative and come up with their own unique content, it takes some of the burden off of the artist. TikTok fans are big on dance routines and lip-synching. They also like dressing up and getting goofy so consider that when making your challenge. Gaining traction isn’t as easy as posting a challenge, however, so consider offering a prize for the best challenge. Some past popular challenges include categories like best original dance, best lip-sync, funniest video, or most outrageous costume. Using an influencer is also helpful in promoting contests and content in general. More on that later.
You don’t have to be a follower of trends in music to go viral but you do need followers. To get followers on social media, you have to be a follower yourself. That means you should start following other artists and influencers, and your own fanbase will grow as a result. It helps to react and engage to other’s content too. Reacting on TikTok is posting a video response.
It’s not hard to do and it encourages other users to do the same. You never know who might see your reaction video, another artist or influencer perhaps, and they may start following you as a result.
Take advantage of the duet feature and you will increase the number of users who will hear your music. This feature allows two videos to play side-by-side at the same time. Collaborate with a musician friend and you can return the favor on one of their songs. You’ll see the Duet button after you hit the share button.
TikTok users love unique content. It doesn't have to look slick or well-produced. It just needs to be authentic. Lighting and framing aren’t as important as being fun. Make it look easy and others will take up your challenge or use your music in their own videos.
Memes are the ultimate tool for going viral so use them. They need to be memorable and it doesn’t hurt if they’re also funny. The meme should match the spirit of your music which you already chose carefully for its catchy melody and lyrics, right? That will make your job a lot easier. Influencers are experts at creating memorable visuals and clever memes, so consider using one to help your music go viral on TikTok.
TikTok is huge right now, but the next thing will come along soon. And don’t overlook older platforms to get your music out there. You want to appeal to the most people you can. That means sharing your content across all of your social media channels and that includes Instagram Stories, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and wherever else.
There are few features on the TikTok app that make shooting and editing videos super easy. A 60-second single-take video is fine, but you have options when shooting your video to upload to TikTok. The app has an easy way to edit together bits and pieces into one video. You just stop recording, change your location or costume, and then record again once you’re ready.
TikTok also allows you to record the video to the song. Once you have found the song you want to feature, and selected the section you want, then you record the video. The song stops when you stop recording and starts up again when you're ready to start shooting. It’s so easy anyone can do it, but if you have editing skills you can use a timeline-based video editing software application such as Adobe Premiere Pro then upload your video to the platform.
We have been talking about the value influencers add to the marketing efforts of artists. Not too long ago, but before social media became such a dominant force, some bands and artists had a street team working for them, more likely for the record label they were signed to. As the name suggests, the people on the street team went out onto the street and promoted the artist directly to people. These teams put up posters and stickers, called local radio and requested songs, and basically hyped the artist to anyone who would listen.
Social media makes this type of marketing much easier. It’s also less legwork, more affordable, and you don’t need a record label to do it. Influencers are one-person street teams and the street is their social media feeds. Influencers and their followers are “stream teams” essentially. They post content for their thousands of fans and encourage them to check new artists which could be you.
Influencers don’t spend their time looking for new music to promote. They’re already busy promoting. It’s up to artists to take the steps necessary to partner with one of these social media darlings. That’s where a company like SpaceLoud comes in.
SpaceLoud brings artists and influencers together. We help them connect and establish a relationship that benefits all parties (yes, we make money too). Artists grow their following and get all the increased exposure that goes along with it. Influencers make money, but they also raise their own profiles by consistently creating and posting new content with the best music out there.
After a campaign is finished and the influencer has shared your music with their followers on the channels you’ve specified, they will upload screenshots showing the stats for their posts. You’ll be able to see how many times users engaged with the content, how many likes and shares it got, and how many times people clicked through to your website or other music pages.
It’s easy to get your music to influencers so they can start promoting you to their followers. The first step is signing up for a free account. Yes, it’s free to join and you won’t pay a dime until the campaign has been completed.
As an Artist, you don’t have to give up control of anything, especially your music. You are in control of:
You control how much money you’ll spend on a campaign. You decide how much it’s worth to get your music in front of a large audience. And even then, you set the budget upfront.
You also have control over who you partner with. You can search for influencers that use certain types of platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube. You can also search for influencers who are into the same music as you create. Choose the ones you think will be the best fit. You can also create a campaign and let influencers come to you.
You also let the influencers know where they should direct traffic. That could be to a music platform such as Spotify, Bandcamp, SoundCloud, or to your website where they can purchase your albums, concert tickets, and merchandise.
Timing is important. Once you have a campaign accepted or you have accepted an influencer, you tell them when they should start their promotion efforts. This is helpful when you’re planning a record release or a concert tour.
Once your campaign is underway it's up to you to leverage the results. Repost the content, and take full advantage of the reach and social proof that influencers give you. By working with influencers, you’re taking advantage of the most cutting-edge way to promote your music today. Influencer music marketing should play a key role in your overall strategy, and will likely only become more important in the future.
You may be an influencer whether you know it or not. Do you have thousands of followers across multiple social media channels? Do you post content regularly? Does that content get shared, liked, retweeted, and engaged with? You can leverage that audience to promote emerging talent while earning money for your efforts. When you join SpaceLoud you can choose the artists you want to work with based on the style of music they make or just because you like their hustle. You have the power to grow their fanbase and you’ll expand your own influence at the same time. It’s a win-win situation (did we mention you’ll get paid to do it). It’s easy to get the ball rolling and become a SpaceLoud influencer.
You want what every artist wants: to have their music exposed to as many people as possible. SpaceLoud helps artists achieve this goal by pairing them with the best social media influencers. We make that process easy. Join now and get your music heard!