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How to promote your music on TikTok

Words by Kavina.

Most music success stories of late seem to start with a lightning fast viral explosion, and these days the most famous culprit appears to be TikTok. The app known for super cheesy lip sync videos has produced results that have been no joke, as new artists catapult from bedroom studios to their first performance on SNL faster than you can see a trending TikTok clips backing track hit the Billboard charts.


If you want a more direct way to connect with your fans on a global level, your TikTok account is the fastest way to get to them. With the help of TikTok royalty, a few challenges and the magic catchy 15 second riff, you could bypass trying to fit the Triple J mold, to finding your niche clique and conquering the world.


Here’s a few things to keep in mind when you next click the TikTok box on your music distributor site. 


Music is the soundtrack for our everyday lives 


The artist is the ever changing chameleon, who can adapt to anything in order to connect with their fans, and with what started out as a funny video sharing app, has turned into the hottest way to be discovered. The consumers have become the artists, taking your music and using it to showcase their everyday lives, and no one did it better than Addison Rae with over 81 million TikTok followers. 


From pedestrian to entertainer, the crossover from fan to celebrity takeover was marked around the time viral sensation Doja Cats ‘Say So’ dance challenge became one of the first trends celebrities used to launch their TikTok journeys (or in this case, it launched her). By entering the spotlight and engaging with fanmade trends, such as Doja did with @yodelinghaleys TikTok dance routine, artists stumbled upon a whole new relationship status with those who accidentally boost them to international success, and @yodelinghaley even made it into the ‘Say So’ music video for which Doja Cat used her routine! Welcome to the future of entertainment. You are the artist.  


Where have all the labels gone?


The short answer is, they’re all watching TikTok videos now so catch up. Perth artist Jaycee broke out in 2020 as the one to watch with his song ‘Lie To You’ catching the attention of Nova and landing on HIT network. As one of the indie Aussie stars with the largest TikTok following (about 1.2million followers) he started by launching music on his own label because the costs of trying to reach an established one were an impossible feat for an artist trying to rise. Instead of focusing on the lack of resources to get commercial radio play, they went the other way and took matters into their own hands by releasing music straight to TikTok, and the fans jumped on it real quick, and the rest is history. 


The days of convincing labels that your music could reach international acclaim are over, as your true fans celebrate you long before a label tells them what they should be listening to. Major labels and commercial radio stations such as NOVA and KIIS have embraced what they call “changing music cycles” and use fan reactions to gage which music they should sign, as well as paying attention to social media trends for crossover to commercial radio play. 


If you aren’t directly calling out Addison Rae you’re doing it wrong 


If you haven’t literally called out the TikTok queen by writing a song about her then are you even TikToking right? Our favourite TikTok success story comes from none other than Sydney's most valuable player The Kid Laroi. If you weren’t sure about how being an Australian artist fit into the powerhouse of the social media platform then stay tuned because this one hits home a little differently. Besides being the youngest artist to top the ARIA album charts, the superfast blowup of Australia’s very own The Kid Laroi, who was even dubbed by Sir Elton John as one of the biggest new artists of our time, reached his viral status after the song reached her and she reached back. Why work your way up when you can go straight to the top? 


You’re literally one perfect 15 second clip away from the blowup 


If you’re wondering how to get your music on TikTok, the answer is as simple as ticking the TikTok box, on your Ditto or Distrokid distributor site. Yep, it’s already set up for you, you may have already done so without realising the gravity of future events you’ve unknowingly set in motion. OR, you might have to go back and take another look, because most distributor sites will upload the first 15/30 seconds of your track which could be the crucial difference between a TikTok hit or a miss.


If you’re having trouble deciding what the most TikTok-worthy part of your track is, it may be time for a deepdive to see what your fans are using, and which clips are most trending on the site. The clear choice would be to go for the hook or chorus, or catchy and hardhitting words like those from Adelaide artist Sarah Saint James ‘Mad At God’ which became an anthem for coming out, and sharing emotional queer experiences with the world. 


We challenge you to #challenge 


Thank your Queen of TikTok once again for that one, and she probably is the hardest working TikTok video challenge title holder, so if you need a recap on what’s hot, just follow her cue.  


Get onboard with your renditions to challenges like the #fleetwoodmacchallenge, #boredinthehouse, or #savagechallenge - if you know, you know. - and you’re officially one with the people. Then we have veterans like Flume who’s gone on to invent his own TikTok culture by creating challenges for his track ‘The Difference’ which resulted in becoming the #keepingbusy quarantine anthem for 2020. 


The UK’s hip hop duo Young T and Bugsy Malone hit the Billboard 100 after their TikTok hit, which played soundtrack to glow up videos and the #dontrushchallenge and over 250million views and even though it was released in November of 2019, and went viral 5 months after the fact, so don’t worry too much on the need to make another hit, you could already have one in your arsenal. 


If you’re too cool for school, then there’s another way to go, take a look at our super cute favourite duo Cubsport for inspo on the best way to create a phenomenon by creating it yourselves, like the boys recent TikTok sharing their romance and band life in support of pride month, set to their killer track ‘Come On Mess Me Up.’


Don’t forget your hashtags


Hashtags are TikTok currency, and the way to find everything worth finding. If you’re trying to break into the local scene and link it up with your global domination plans, something as significant as #melbournelockdown turns into #lockdownfeels then turns into #boredinthehouse, and the #morehashtags the merrier. Affiliate yourself with what your fans are searching for and you’ve found a way to slide into their ‘For You’ page like one of the locals.  


DM your Influencer gang


Friends in high places really pay off when you’re trying to get the word out about your music. Who doesn’t dream of featuring as the backing track on the next Inspired Unemployed dance battle? If you haven’t got one of those The Kid Laroi - Addison Rae tracks lying around for her to promote for you, get inspired by the endless lists of Aussie influencers on your outback doorstep who went viral thanks to 2020 COVID lockdowns. From sports to fashion and even foodie accounts, the whole team is here, open to collaboration and fairly accessible. 


Don’t forget to share videos to your other social platforms 


Justine Skye and Timbaland’s ‘Space and Time’ sessions were influenced by the Duet recorder-view on TikTok, which singers use to link up and jam together. By posting to her 3 million Instagram followers, the independent artist was able to transition users to her TikTok account. The experience was so successful that she then went on to record a full studio album dedicated to the sessions, after listeners kept tuning in with positive feedback. 

If you weren’t inspired before, we hope you are now, and don’t worry too much about hiring a videography team to follow you around and record videos of you lip syncing to ‘Cry Me A River’ on a moody train ride home from work. It’s unanimous that video content trumps video quality, and users of the site are far more interested in connecting with each other via shared experiences, a good laugh, or a celebratory moment. If you think about it, the wholesome experience may have you ditching Instagram filters and staged band photographs forever. Give the people what they want, we say! 

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