Do you hear everyone saying, ‘why don’t you just put your music on TikTok?’ and you’ve realised that it’s the most popular social media amongst your generation and you have no idea where to begin?
You might be struggling to even know where to start with promoting yourself on the internet, but you have hundreds of songs on your laptop just waiting to be published.
You have no money to invest because you’ve spent it all on rent, bills, university debt or a new laptop. You want a substantial career in the music industry but how are you going to do that without being signed to a label? You’re great at making music but as soon as it comes to business and marketing you feel way out of your depth.
Well, you’ve come to the right place.
It’s important to have a little strategy to organise the madness. As an independent artist, producer, or instrumentalist there are specific things you can do when promoting yourself that could significantly boost your career. TikTok just happens to be one of the most popular means of doing so in 2021.
How does TikTok work?
If you’re anything like me, you too have fallen victim to the hours of mindless scrolling on TikTok’s genius algorithm. But why is it so addictive? To simplify the Wall Street Journal’s study on ‘How TikTok’s Algorithm Figures You Out’, when it comes to personalised content, the action (hesitate, repeat, skip) taken on each video is how the algorithm reveals your deepest passions. WSJ conducted this study with bot accounts, each with specific assigned interests. TikTok figured out said interests in as little as 40 minutes, allowing it to construct a never-ending flow of personalised content for every user.
Unlike other social media platforms, TikTok doesn’t promote users based on follower/like counts. It’s built so every video has a chance of becoming viral, which is another contributing factor to why it’s so popular. Around 55% of the 1 billion TikTok users create content of their own.
So, as an artist on TikTok, there is no pressure to have millions of followers from the get-go. Keep reading to find out how you can use this unique algorithm to your advantage.
Preparing for TikTok Marketing
To start your social media marketing journey its essential to have some sort of a release strategy. Know what you’re doing and when you’re doing it – keep track of this in a way that suits you. Think of themes, album artwork, social media posts/photos. Create your style. Learn a little about copyrighting and metadata – don’t risk sampling copyrighted work!
A vital step to the release plan is digital distribution. If someone likes the music on your TikTok video, and you’ve just slapped on any unreleased song from your hard drive, your audience won’t be able to stream, download or buy your music. Officially release your track using distribution services (LANDR, TuneCore, CD Baby for example) to effectively market your music on TikTok and other social media platforms.
There are plenty of guides out there on how to build your release strategy, and I suggest you nail this before even thinking about marketing on TikTok. Once you’ve released your music, lets move on to TikTok promotion.
How to Promote Your Music on TikTok
The first thing you can do is actually use TikTok! Take part in challenges, follow trends, find other musicians and observe what they do. Gaining a deeper understanding for how the platform works will help you brainstorm your own marketing strategy.
In doing this, you’ll learn about TikTok challenges. One of the best ways of showcasing your music on TikTok is in the form of a challenge. When creating one, try and think of ways to encourage your audience to use your music in their video.
If you’re an artist, band or producer why not try a dancing challenge? Why not create a freestyling challenge for rappers over your beats? Or a harmonies challenge for vocalists? Or a play along challenge for instrumentalists? Whatever challenge you choose to create, keep in mind your target audience. Who are you promoting to? What are they into? Why do they need to listen to your music? Knowing your audience will help keep them from skipping your video and encourage them to take part themselves.
When you have an idea, record it, and make sure to officially link to your track on the video. Pick a small section of your song with the most ‘viral potential’ – catchy, relatable, danceable. Encourage listeners to turn the sound on with stickers or written lyrics. Finally, present your challenge to the world with related hashtags – or even create your own hashtag specific to your video.
To kickstart your challenge, ask your family and friends to take part. Promote it on your other social media accounts. Try and get as many people to take part as possible. Something to keep in mind if you want to enter the realm of influencer promotion – is that you will receive more revenue if your song is played in 1000 videos than if one video with your song gets 1000 views. Best not to spend your whole budget on a single post from a very famous influencer, it could easily flop due to the way the algorithm works.
The last thing to remember is consistency. Once your audience is interested, how will you keep them interested? How will you convert them into Instagram followers, YouTube subscribers or Spotify listeners? Many musicians give up after a few tries because nothing happens straight away. If you consistently create content, you will inevitably start to see the improvements in quality, and it will become easier to make. The best advice I have for you is keep going, stay consistent, and do not give up!
Edie is a musician that composes and produces her own tracks alongside music for games. She also works as a freelance graphic artist, and learns about socio-cultural issues and current affairs in her spare time.