TikTok is booming like no other social media platform right now. It was the most downloaded app in January 2020 with 800 million monthly active users and an average in-app usage time of 52 minutes. These figures speak for themselves! TikTok has long since replaced all other media among younger users, but its relevance among other age groups should not be underestimated.
For you as a musician, TikTok can fulfil many different functions: not just your fans, but also celebrities, influencers, brands, other musicians, publishers and other potentially useful contacts for you hang out there.
We have summarised everything you need to know: what TikTok is, what content performs best there and how you can get the most from your music.
What TikTok is
If you have read this far and don’t have the foggiest idea what we’re talking about – then bravo, you’re probably in the middle of a long social media break. TikTok is a video platform similar to Instagram on which users post short clips with various tracks and sounds and edit them in different ways. These videos have been in circulation for a considerable length of time on other platforms and can be recognised by the TikTok logo watermarked in the video. Have you recently seen a dance, lip sync or challenge video? The chances are that it was a TikTok video.
TikTok as a way of building connections
If you release your music on TikTok so your fans and everyone else can use your tracks for their clips, you won’t (as of June 2020) get any money. Nevertheless, TikTok can be financially worthwhile – if you think outside the box.
If any platform is trending right now, then it is TikTok. This means that not only “normal” users are posting there, but also brands, companies and creatives. Attracting attention upon oneself and one’s work is not only important for individuals, but also for companies. Basically: see and be seen! A viral hit can be useful in very different ways.
All well and good, but what kind of content is it best to create for TikTok? In comparison to other social networks TikTok works deliberately and specifically with trends. Time-consuming, pre-produced and edited videos can be well-received, however, easy to replicate videos that everyone can join in with are often the most successful ones. The more users join in, the more attention is driven towards a trend.
Even if the best-known videos are dance clips, there are no boundaries: animal videos, lip syncs, fashion content, educational content, pranks, challenges – all of it can become a trend if there are enough brains (and often a sense of humour) behind it.
Easy does it
Mostly, the content doesn’t have to be particularly thoroughly thought out and time-consuming to please. Back to basics! Classic cat videos or funny dance moves have always worked and probably will for a while.
Statistics! Algorithms! Numbers! Great!
Yes, good old statistics. OK, it’s a bit boring, but it is important to know how the algorithm works if you want to get the best out of the app.
The first thing you need to know is that it’s not (just) about the number of followers. Your videos can get millions of views even if not many users follow you. This is because TikTok assess interactions with a specific video and not all of the interactions with all of the videos an account has. To start with, your video is only shown to a small group of users. If it is well-received by this group, the chances of it being played to a larger target group increase.
But there are other indicators which influence how large the target group you are introduced to will be. As with Instagram, likes, comments and re-watches play a major role. Just like #hashtags, the more popular the keyword, the more people watch the videos and trending hashtags are more often shown on “discover” pages.
TikTok for you as a musician
Do you want to use TikTok to not only create videos and market yourself, but also to bring your music to the people? This is definitely a good idea on this trending platform. Use the attention you already have (from your Instagram or Facebook followers, for example). Tell your followers that your tracks are now also available on TikTok. Make funny or creative videos to your own songs to encourage others to follow you, or start a TikTok challenge to go with one of your songs. Such activities often spread faster than you might think and who knows perhaps you’ll provide the soundtrack to the next TikTok hype.