In the last 18 months, there has been an undeniable buzz around TikTok, especially in the music industry. With multiple tiers of artists, labels, managers and marketers from Majors to Indies, attempting to break their artists, TikTok has sprouted hope (and some fear) throughout the the industry.

Marketers are always looking for the newest platform, that hasn’t destroyed organic reach for users and creators. The magic behind TikTok is that it’s free to use, organic reach is unbelievable and going viral is a lot easier than most. Best of all, the most engaged-with content can be shot straight from an iPhone and uploaded without cost or major editing. TikTok has shifted the mindset of content creators. There’s more freedom for expression and less rigidity in getting out ideas. Some of my favourite Tik Toks resonate to my core, like a 10/10 meme or Betoota Advocate post.

I’ve noticed some people perceive TikTok as ‘too young’. Every week there‘s a growing list of teens that have gained millions of followers by dancing to and miming viral songs. Whilst true, there is also 870M total users on TikTok which lends itself to a much more diverse audience that the most obvious 13–19 year-old dancing demographic — full breakdown on age groups and other cool stats here.

I see TikTok as a shorter version of YouTube— it’s much more direct and a different way of consuming content. When I’m sitting on Youtube, I’m prepared to sit back and watch longer videos. On TikTok, I’m scrolling and discovering videos. It’s a stripped-back, unfiltered space that uses an algorithm to personalise content to my taste. I’m not pretending to know EXACTLY how this algorithm works, but simply — it analyses behaviour through multiple factors (what you click, what you don’t click, what you watch more/less of etc) and begins to funnel tailored content onto your For You Page (FYP) similar to Instagram’s Explore Page.

Towa Bird (396K+ followers / 4.3M+ Likes) & Cōrt (437K+ followers / 8M+ Likes)

There is a huge opportunity for artists to build an audience on TikTok.

Across all social media platforms, the primary goal is to grow a fanbase of people who love and listen to your music. But without even trying, no one will see you, hear you or know you exist.

Each artist should develop their own style of content for TikTok, know who they’re talking too and translate this into engaging and relevant videos. Using a calendar to structure their time and ideas will ensure posting frequently doesn’t become an afterthought.

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Artists need to lean into their specific skillset, whether its guitar/drums/singing/producing/dancing/comedy/DJing and explore different ways to demonstrate this to the TikTok community (aka ALOT of people in the world right now).

Here’s a really simple way to look at TikTok growth:

  • In 6 months, between December 2020 — May 2021 (27 weeks) a band or solo artist could upload 2 selfie videos per week, covering a viral song or classic hit, from their iPhone, resulting in a total of 54 videos.
  • If each video got: 300 followers, 5K views, 10 comments and 350 Likes = Total 16.2K followers, 270K views, 540 comments 18.9K Likes (numbers will start smaller and grow exponentially)
  • This newfound fanbase can be guided onto Spotify and Apple Music and turned into lifelong fans + converted into real streams and income.
  • Fans will also follow you on Instagram and Youtube + any other social platforms

On the other hand, creating ZERO TikTok videos will see none of these results. A missed opportunity… Above all, creativity, consistency and providing value is key to gaining more followers and a larger fanbase.

Here are some tips and tricks that artists can implement right now. They’re proven to be effective for many other emerging artists on the platform:

Music Hashtags — Jump on hashtags to reach millions of people (Eg. #guitar #musiccovers #clairo #triplej)

Why?

  • This will place your video into the explore page of the chosen #hashtag, allowing millions of users to discover your video

Non-Music Hashtags — Use hashtags of non-music related interests

Why?

  • For example, you could use the ‘green screen’ filter, portraying a Mountain background then cover a Bon Iver song, using the #hiking or #outdoors hashtag
  • People who enjoy #hiking, who visit the hashtag will see your video, as something slightly unique and enjoy the music — visit + follow your profile or look up your music

Covering songs — Using voice, instrument, Ableton— particularly trending songs or ‘on the rise’ songs

Why?

  1. This will place your video into the explore page of the ‘sound’ or song, allowing users who enjoy the song to discover your video.
  2. Covering songs such as the trending, BENEE — ’Supalonely’ or ‘Harry Styles — Watermelon Sugar High’ in a cute indie-folk version could be used by other users in duets/their own videos
  3. Covering moderately famous musicians (under 100K) who might not have many covers, will encourage reshares across socials — make sure to tag their @username in the caption

Duets — Split screen of you reacting/collaborating to another user’s video

Why?

  1. This includes the @username of the original video user, encouraging them to engage, bring over their fanbase and likelihood of a reshare
  2. If you cover/react to someone else’s video, they could reshare via their other socials (IG story, Facebook etc)

Best practises:

  • Use captions — Using catchy title cards/interesting captions Eg. “Soundtrack to my childhood” then covering the OC theme song / “Tag someone who remembers this”
  • Be candid — Don’t over produce videos, be natural and allow stream of consciousness — let the creativity shine
  • Reshare — Download + reshare TikTok videos to Instagram/Twitter and encourage a feedback loop of followers and growth in numbers
  • Be authentic — Artists need to find their THING and do it on a daily basis — not try and do what they perceive as the ‘TikTok’ thing — there’s an audience for everyone on the platform, not just 16 year old dancers.