Lil Nas X, Megan Thee Stallion, and Doja Cat have one thing in common — finding success through TikTok.
So if you are wondering how to promote your music on TikTok, then there is a lot that we can learn from these particular artists.
After their music consistently went viral on TikTok, they broke the mold of being one-hit-wonders and leveraged their TikTok fame to sustain their music careers.
The way each of them established their niche and cultivated their audience is very different from one another, which is a testament to how important it is to remain unique on social media.
While it’s always important to find something unique to you when building your following on social media, we can learn something from the success of musicians that have been successful on TikTok to build a strong foundation on the platform.
What Is In This Guide
How To Promote your music on tikTok: Understanding the ‘For You’ Page Algorithm
One of the reasons TikTok has been touted as the fastest growing social media platform is because of the insane algorithm the platform has developed that amplifies a variety of content from all kinds of creators.
On TikTok, it does not matter if you have 10 followers or 100,000 followers to go viral — it is all about how the platforms’ algorithm picks up your video and how the public reacts to it.
There are many components that make up TikTok’s algorithm, but where it really shines is on the For You Page, which is unique to each user.
TikTok describes it’s For You Page as a “personalized feed of videos based on user interests and engagement” that automatically curates a wide variety of content to users.
The more content a user consumes and interacts with on TikTok, the more accurate the algorithm will be to curate content they find interesting for their For Your Page.
There is no way to know what kind of content your audience will prefer — for example, just because one artist built an audience off of simultaneously cooking and singing in their kitchen does not mean that is the right type of content for you.
The best way to cultivate an audience on TikTok is to begin posting a variety of content that is true to you and your brand until you find a style and theme that you enjoy creating and your audience enjoys watching.
Once you begin to see lots of engagement on a certain video, that means your video is popping up on the For You Page of other people.
To stay on their For You Page, you need to continue coming out with similar content to ride the TikTok wave. For example, if your most-viewed videos are of you singing outside, capitalize on that by creating more of those videos.
How TikTok Users Will Use Your Music
Not only has TikTok changed how music is promoted and consumed, but also how artists write and create their songs.
Today, artists are thinking about how to make part of their song TikTok-friendly so it is more likely to be used by people on the platform.
There are all sorts of ways to create music for TikTok, and I encourage you to be a pioneer and find a new way of doing things. But to get you inspired, here are three ways for your music to be used by TikTok users:
TikTok Challenges are often focused on dance choreography or an act that can be broadly and easily replicated. A selected sound bite of your music will serve as the audio for the challenge, and if done properly, has the potential to reach millions of TikTok users.
A TikTok challenge could be started or constructed by you, which could involve outsourcing a choreographer and/or popular influencers to create and post dances and skits to a portion of your song.
However, most challenges are started organically by other users who are supporters of your music — which is why growing a loyal following is so valuable on TikTok.
Consider your meme potential
The way TikTok users interpret music is unpredictable, so once your music is released into the world it could very well be the backing track for the newest meme.
From nuanced lyrics, to emotional instrumentals, to dance breaks — your song can be remixed and used for a variety of purposes, including memes.
You have no control over your song becoming the soundtrack to the next trending meme, but writing lyrics with a broad meaning could better your chances of going viral.
You can also reach out to emerging DJs and other artists to remix and cover your song to improve your brand awareness on the platform.
Using #Hashtags on TikTok
Hashtags on TikTok work the same way as they do on Instagram and Twitter. Simply put — #hashtags are a social media tool to organize content by category and help users share and search for content.
If you have a public TikTok account and you add a hashtag to your video, your video is classified and organized under the hashtags you use for your videos.
Committing to using the same hashtags can amplify your content by targeting your videos to reach a specific user with specific interests. The more frequently you use specific hashtags, the more likely TikTok will amplify your video on other users’ For You Page.
So for your videos, focus on 3 broad hashtags that you will continue to use that are relevant to your brand and music. For example, if I was an experimental electronic artist based in Berlin, hashtags I could consider using are — #Berlin, #experimentalmusic, and #electronic.
Using specific hashtags can also help you identify your competition, since they will most likely be using the same hashtags as you and therefore are fighting for a spot on a potential fans For You Page.
Take some time each week to analyze similar content to yours by going through videos under the hashtags you use to see how you can improve your own videos.
To keep up to date with what’s trending on TikTok, head to the ‘Discover’ tab on TikTok to see what hashtags and kinds of videos are currently trending before posting your video. Chances are, one or two of the hashtags that are currently trending will be relevant to the video you are putting out!
Ways To Interact With Your Audience
As you begin to rack up some views and some followers on TikTok, don’t leave your new supporters hanging!
Not only is it respectful to respond to as many of your followers as you can, it could also drive more traffic to your page. Even better, TikTok has made it both fun and easy to respond to your fans with some innovative features.
Like and reply to comments
After posting a video, make sure you are keeping an eye out for comments at least 24 hours after posting. Even if you are just starting on TikTok, chances are you will have someone leaving a comment or two — so show them some love!
On TikTok, you can like comments and reply back to show your appreciation and engage with your fans.
Make a video-response to comments
If someone leaves a comment deserving of a clapback or a more theatrical response, filming a video-response is the best way to go. Users on TikTok seem to love these types of videos, so this could also be part of your strategy on TikTok.
To make a video response to a comment, select a comment under one of your videos by holding down on it, and select “Reply With Video”. You will then be able to create a video with an animation of the selected comment in the video.
Make a Duet or Stitch
If you have seen a Duet or Stitch on TikTok, you will know that video responses are an effective and entertaining way for TikTok users to interact with their audience.
Dueting a video shows your video and the person’s video you are stitching with side by side. This is best used for when you want to react to videos, or even sing along to someone else covering a song — hopefully one day someone will cover your song, and you can make a Duet singing along with them.
Stitching a video on TikTok is when one user takes a portion of another person’s video and incorporates it into their own video.
For example, if someone else does a call-out for a question at the beginning of a video, you can stitch that portion of the video and use it as a starting prompt for your video.
This helped talented producer Kato on the Track strike gold with his track called “Im so pretty” which features an artist by the name of Reyanna.
Reyanna came across Kato’s public duet request and the rest was history. Kato’s TikTok strategy is explained in an interview with Jack Martin stating:
“Kato started incentivizing rappers and singers of TikTok to make a duet with his beats. He would host challenges asking artists to use his music to create part of a song — then offer to promote his favorites.
This gave artists free music to use to make content, along with a potential platform to be seen, while simultaneously promoting Kato’s page to their audiences in the process.
You can leverage this strategy by jumping on duets with others or creating your own requests for people to hop on your own song.
Bonus: Getting Your Music On TikTok
Getting your music on TikTok is music like the process of getting your music on Spotify of Apple Music.
More and more digital music distributors are providing artists with the option to distribute their music to TikTok. Best part of all, you even get paid royalties for the use of your music on the platform.
At present we have confirmed that companies like TuneCore, United Masters, CD Baby, Distrokid, Landr, AWAL, Stem, Symphonic & more, allow for distribution to TikTok when you distribute your music through their services.
Key Take Aways
Creating content to appeal to a large audience is an important long-term goal to have, but that is not the easiest thing to achieve nor is it a realistic way to start on TikTok.
If you are using TikTok as the main way to promote your music, going viral once is only a short-term goal. Instead, work towards steadily building a loyal audience on the platform that will support your music career on or off TikTok.