Some say the internet killed the music industry, but those in the know say otherwise. In today’s age of streaming services and AI tools, there are fewer gatekeepers – everyone can upload their music to almost anywhere, and that’s a good thing. The downside is that your competition is in plain view, promoting their own music online alongside yours.
Nowadays, every artist has to be more aware of promotion, marketing and distribution. One of the best things that can happen to your career is for your music to go viral, which is why it’s a goal that producers have adopted and integrated into their wider process of making music. TikTok has rocketed into the ascendency as an environment for virality, and knowing how the algorithm works can help you to prepare your music for success on the platform.
Perhaps you were lucky (...or unlucky) enough to have experienced the days when extremely short video clips rose to the peak of internet popularity on an app called Vine. The emergence of these “Vines” demonstrated that people could be kept engaged through continuous short-form content. Social media developers took note of this, and since then, shortened content has been the targeted ideal across all of the internet.
It’s no secret that people’s attention spans have continuously degraded as the internet has matured. Whether the shortened attention spans have resulted from exposure to short form content, or vice versa, it’s essential to consider how consumers behave in order to achieve success as a creator.
TikTok was the first social media platform to properly take advantage of this new form of content consumption. The developers of the app took notes from all of their predecessors and created a powerful algorithm that works in the favour of content creators, unlike other platforms. With shorter clips, it’s easier to keep a viewer engaged for a higher percentage of the overall video duration.
TikTok’s algorithm is very good at using engagement metrics to judge the overall enjoyability of the content and push it to the most appropriate audience. This means that, as a creator, the algorithm does most of the work for you. You don’t need to think about who your target audience is, because the app already knows! With each clip that you post, the algorithm gets to know you and your audience more intimately.
This algorithm allows creators on the platform to automatically rise above the noise and build an audience specifically tailored to them with relative ease. As musicians, this is exceptionally valuable.
Musicians are often frustrated when faced with the reality that they have to do anything other than create music to build their careers. Unfortunately, social media has only escalated this problem. Social media promotion can feel grubby, but the reality is that it’s a medium that also gives you more tools than ever to take your music career into your own hands.
Platforms such as TikTok have allowed amateur bedroom producers to often outperform and compete with professional, award-winning artists when it comes to audience engagement and views. The industry is no longer gate kept by perfectionist audio quality requirements, and the various forms of content through which music can be displayed is now more diverse than ever.
Individuals who adapt to the climate of short form social media content are guaranteed to increase their odds of success, when pitted against those who are still conforming to traditional promotional methods. You do not need access to a record label’s resources, or to invest thousands into press releases in order to stand a chance. In fact, even record labels themselves are having to switch up their game plans when approaching marketing methods.
You, as a creator, have the power to get your music in front of a large audience, simply by using free social media outlets such as TikTok. You can even combine social media platforms’ free approaches with paid advertisements to increase your video’s chance at going viral and reaching a wider audience. Paid ads on social media are something to experiment with and research before jumping into though, so don’t rush into an expensive campaign.
Regardless of whether the content needs to be professional or not, it’s still hard to remain consistent and upload regularly over long periods of time. The most cliche, yet valuable, piece of advice you will hear from successful content creators is that consistency is key. It’s about doing the best with what you’ve got and finding a system that works for you.
Some producers will upload small clips of themselves playing portions of their music live. Others will invent a short dance routine to their tracks and encourage other users to record their own rendition. Some musicians will start challenges to engage with their audience.
If you are a more introverted individual, there are still many ways that you can promote your content on TikTok whilst remaining in your comfort zone. For example, you could upload lyric videos with royalty-free video footage. How about adopting a masked persona like the popular DJ, Marshmallow?
As creatives, thinking outside the box is our area of expertise. Thinking of new forms of content is another area where you can flex your creative muscles. Just keep it fun and exciting, and remember that the sky's the limit! A good way to find inspiration is to follow other creators on the platform and see what ideas they are implementing. Maybe you can even collaborate with one of them. Remember, social media is for being social after all!
By this point, you may be wondering how to get your own original music onto TikTok as a creator. TikTok has an expansive catalogue of music that users can sift through and use in their own content creation. If you have your music added to the TikTok library and a creator chooses to use it, each time their clip is played it will count as a stream for your track, and you or your publisher will be able to collect royalties.
If you are an independent musician, you are probably already distributing your music to stores through one of the many online distribution platforms, such as TuneCore, Ditto Music, or Distrokid. All of these platforms will allow you to distribute your music to TikTok’s library, as well as popular online music stores, such as Spotify and Apple Music.
Once your music has been released through one of these platforms, it will be available for use on TikTok. Different distributors will have their own terms and conditions around royalty collection and publishing rights. Ditto Music, for example, will automatically collect TikTok royalties and add them to your monthly report. TuneCore offers an extra one-time payment service to assign them your official publishing rights, after which they will collect these monthly royalties for you and crack down on any copyright infringement.
If you are signed to a record label, then it is best to consult with your team and check your contract to see how your distribution is handled and how your publishing and royalties are dealt with. Either way, it may be worth doing some research into your options before deciding how you will distribute your music.
Once your music is on TikTok, it might be a wise idea for you to kickstart a trend by making your own clip featuring your song. When you choose a song from TikTok’s official library, the clip will automatically credit the song and artist name as part of the video overlay. This is a great way to gain exposure for your tracks and turn your TikTok followers into fans of your music.
If you own and run a record label, then you’re going to be doing a lot of distribution for a lot of different artists. As a result, getting music released through your label onto TikTok can be a real chore. Fortunately Ampsuite – the tool designed for running record labels – can help.
Ampsuite is an all-in-one tool designed to make running a successful record label from one central place much easier. With integrated royalty accounting, DJ promos, newsletters and distribution it’s a powerful tool and one of the best ways to get your music on TikTok as a record label owner.
As mentioned earlier, content does not necessarily need to sound like it was recorded in Abbey Road in order to perform well on TikTok. However, investing some resources into increasing your content’s quality is sure to help you in the long run. This can be something as simple as adhering to a regular style of video in order to compliment your brand as a musician.
TikTok is ultimately a platform for video content, which means that having any skills related to video editing is sure to help you produce better content at a more efficient rate. Veed.io also has a fairly basic video editing functionality and is completely free. If you are more adept, then perhaps you will want to edit videos using Adobe Premiere Pro, or Final Cut Pro X. Either way, you can make a start just by using your smartphone's video editing capabilities.
One tool that has become increasingly popular amongst content creators is Veed.io. Veed.io is a free video editing platform with paid subscription tiers offering varying benefits. The key feature of Veed.io is its AI-assisted capability to automatically detect and add subtitles to any piece of video content (that also has audio).
Some platforms, such as YouTube, already have a built-in closed-caption feature that auto-generates subtitles to the video. Veed.io will allow you to embed these subtitles into your video, which can be extremely helpful on TikTok. Allowing users to read the lyrics to your music will inevitably increase engagement.
We also mentioned earlier that you can make your own original content through the use of royalty-free footage and imagery. There are various websites available online that will allow you to have peace of mind when using pre-made footage or imagery, without breaking any copyright laws. There are some free platforms available, however, the best ones are usually paid. If you are a regular content creator, it could be worth paying the small monthly fee to access one of these libraries.
Platforms such as Pond5, Artlist, or Envato mainly offer royalty video assets, whereas Pexels, Shutterstock, and Unsplash offer royalty free images. These are only a select few. There are many more to choose from, so you’ll need to find which platforms are best suited to you.
As previously mentioned, once you have distributed your music to TikTok, it will be recognised in their official database. This means that any user who tries to use your song in their content will automatically have it flagged and recognised as belonging to you. This is the best way to keep your own music copyright secured on the platform.
It is also worth noting that if you decide to use another musician’s work in your track, you will have to credit the artist to avoid any copyright infringement. The best way to do this is to choose the version of their track from TikTok’s catalogue so that it is credited on your video overlay and turn down the music so that you can’t hear it.
TikTok videos have two mixing sliders (one for the video’s original sound, and one for the selected track). To ensure that the musician’s work is still credited on your video overlay, simply select the track that you wish to credit and then turn down the volume of the added slider.