How to promote your music on TikTok

TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing social video app that allows users to share short videos with each other. These videos can be up to 60 seconds in length, but they tend to be shorter (around 15 seconds).

TikTok videos are vertical rather than horizontal, and tend to have a ‘home-spun’ feel — the emphasis is usually on clips that look ‘authentic’ rather than highly-polished.

(The company’s strapline of ‘Real People, Real Videos’ suggests as much).

You can either create a video using TikTok’s built-in editor, or use video editing software to produce one for upload to the platform.

The content that gets created and shared on TikTok tends to involve dance challenges, lip syncing and memes. Obviously the dance challenges and lip syncing videos often involve music, and that’s where the opportunities for musical artists lie.

How can bands and artists get their music on Tiktok?
TikTok users can browse a library of tracks to create a video with. So if you’re interested in your music becoming part of a meme, the first step is to make sure your tracks are available in this. When you sign up for distribution with 1710 Media, your song gets distributed and shared on Tiktok.

Tips for making successful videos on TikTok
So, now that you know what TikTok is, and how to make sure your music is available on the platform, how do you actually go about promoting your music on it?

Learn from other musicians
The best way to get an understanding of what really ‘works’ on TikTok from a music video point of view is to follow other musicians — particularly those who are adept at using the platform to share their music widely — and pay close attention to what they do.

Focus on the sort of video content that really works for them — and emulate (or improve on!) it.

Know your audience
As things stand, TikTok’s userbase is overwhelmingly young — nearly 70% of its users are under 25 years old. This means that the videos you create for it, and the music you use in them, will probably need to be geared towards this demographic.

(That’s not to say that TikTok will always stay a ‘young people’ platform: Facebook started off with a much younger demographic before everybody’s granny started using it. So even if your music is geared towards older listeners, there is still an argument for getting in early with TikTok).

Focus on authenticity over high production values
TikTok’s most popular videos are nearly always ‘lo-fi’ productions that give off a really ‘in the moment’ vibe (even if that ‘moment’ was carefully planned or rehearsed!).

So, if you’re planning to release a serious, beautifully shot, tastefully lit high-brow piece of content, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t get much traction.

I hate to use this phrase…but ‘keep it real’ instead. Or at least make it look like you’re keeping it real.

Think viral — but in a way that involves other people
With a lot of social networking platforms, a successful piece of content is one that tends to be shared over and over again.

However, with TikTok, a successful piece of content is usually one that is replicated or reinterpreted repeatedly by other users — i.e., somebody does a really memorable dance to your song, which encourages somebody else to do their own dance to it, and so on.

So focus on creating strong concepts for a video that can be easily reimagined by other users, rather than simply posting your own performances.

If you already have a large following, challenges or contests can really help with this — you could for example encourage your listeners to use one of your tracks to come up with things like the best dance for it, best lip sync, funniest video and so on.

You could also see if other artists you know would be interested in collaborating with you on TikTok using its ‘Duet’ feature — this can leverage two followings and generate more buzz around a piece of content. Again, it’s good to go beyond simple music performances here (although to be fair, they can work better in a duet context) and to think in terms of quirky ideas that will inspire other TikTok users to perform your song in a similar way.

Zoom in on hooks
When creating videos for TikTok — or encouraging others to do so — choose the hookiest parts of your most hooky songs for the soundtrack. This increases the chances of people either sharing your video, or creating their own version of it.

And, because you typically need to create something that’s only 15 seconds in length, you don’t really have a huge amount of time to give to moody intros or intricate guitar solos anyway.

Focus on quality over quantity
Finally, with all social networks, it’s important to focus on creating or sharing quality content, rather than posting every five minutes — but it’s especially important on TikTok.

This is because only really engaging concepts get anywhere on the platform — and the aim is usually to get your followers creating their own content based on your music rather than ‘passively consuming’ yours.

So it’s much more important to spend time brainstorming great content ideas that have a chance of taking off on TikTok, rather than making and posting ‘ordinary’ videos which won’t really grab much attention.

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