Updated: Nov 22, 2021
Written by: Megan Vercruysse
You want a hit song in 2020? TikTok is might be the key to your success. Artists like Lil Nas X, are finding ways to jumpstart their career and spread their original music to audiences across the world through short videos. TikTok sets itself apart from other social media apps because of its discovery-based "For You" page.
Most common social media platforms, like Facebook/Instagram, show content only from people you follow. Instagram does have an explore page, which can be useful in promoting your content if you find yourself on it, but home feeds are only made up of people you already follow or ads.
TikTok changed the game with their feed. The TikTok algorithm is set to show your video to audiences who may like it regardless of who they may or may not follow. This allows for your video to reach far and wide, and if audiences enjoy it (like/comment/share), it continues to be put on more peoples “for you pages.” This is what has changed the game for musicians. They no longer need to count on having friends and existing followers, finding their content entertaining enough to share, in order to grow or go viral. On TikTok, thanks to the algorithm, their content will be shown to those who are most likely to enjoy it, giving it a better shot at likes/shares and resulting in a growing audience.
Musicians on TikTok find more success if they only create a few types of content. The first being showcasing their original music while displaying the lyrics on the screen. What is super helpful about this for musicians, is getting feedback from potential fans before fronting the recording costs on a song. If you are a starting or growing musician, with a budget that may only allow for the recording of one song at that time, knowing you have a TikTok with thousands of comments asking where they can stream that song, gives you a clear path on what music to produce first. Additionally, it starts the advertisement for that release early. You already know you have “x” number of people waiting to add that song to their Apple Music library or a special Spotify playlist.
The second type of content that is super helpful for musicians is the duet feature. Creating a video in which other TikTok users can duet you and sing along immediately exposes you to new audiences. This will enable your video to been seen by all the followers of the duet partner, plus you boost your algorithm of getting featured on more and more for you pages. This can also be helpful the other way around. If a musician duets a popular TikTok, adding harmonies, or another perspective to the song, it can give them a chance to grow larger and end up on “for you pages” they may not have before.
The third way musicians have been finding success on TikTok is to cover music. Creating covers allows for audiences to immediately recognize their favorite song being covered by a new face. If you offer a new and appealing rendition of somebody's favorite song, they likely will give you a follow or share boosting you in the algorithm. If you are able to grow an audience on TikTok and have your followers request songs, that also is a guarantee for likes and shares. Not only does it allow for you to cover what you already know is going to be well-received, but it also gives you a chance to interact with your fans and followers, giving them a more authentic and connected experience on your profile.
The final way musicians are taking advantage of TikTok is through singing challenges. Creators have made challenges in order to show off instrumental and vocal talent across the platform. A big trend this past spring was the “Lay Me Down challenge.” This challenge consisted of creators singing along to an instrumental chorus of Sam Smith’s song “Lay Me Down” in which they created original riffs, and melodic variations to showcase their vocal ranges and flexibility. Those who had their “Lay Me Down” videos circulate were able to grow followers and spread their original music through their profile.
I’m sure every bright-eyed musician who has made the move to pursue their music career has heard over and over just how hard it is to get noticed and make a career in this “near impossible” industry. Musicians may have just caught a break thanks to TikTok. TikTok is a platform with such ease for moving content quickly, to the right people, across the globe through quick viral trends. This makes it an absolute must-have for any musicians trying to build a career.
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