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How to promote your music on TikTok

Benefits of leaving your comfort zone 😀

 is much more than 'just' a social media phenomenon. TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create and share 15-second videos, on any topic, and has become is a must-have marketing tool for musicians and record labels. Songs that have been out of the mainstream for decades can also rise up organically on TikTok. It's become a platform that's fueling massive music success. In fact, major labels are now using TikTok metrics to assess the potential of a new artist or upcoming release.

As a result of TikTok music promotion activities, more and more artists are seeing significant increases in streams on other platforms such as Spotify and YouTube, as well as success in traditional media.

You've most likely heard Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road Remix" several times. For the better part of 2019, the song's viral moment was unavoidable. However, before riding his way into the spotlight, the young rapper posted a clip of the original song, along with a "challenge," to the popular social media video app TikTok. Users, the majority of whom are Gen Zers, could upload and watch 15-second music videos with the song title/artist displayed.

As a result, an ever-increasing number of catchy songs have gained popularity within the TikTok app, for example Lizzo with her #DNATest Challenge that helped to catapult her 2017 hit "Truth Hurts" to the charts. Since then, more artists felt encouraged to try for their viral moment.

TikTok isn't just for dance challenges, amusing skits, and lip-syncing videos. There's educational material, touching moments, live performances, and much more. Many younger people are even using TikTok for search purposes, which has surprised many SEO marketers who have only focused on Google and YouTube.

It's really a platform for any type of video content, as long as the videos are useful, entertaining, or otherwise catch the attention of some TikTok users. And, thanks to TikTok's powerful algorithm, even the most niche content can find its way to devoted followers.

TikTok is an excellent platform for independent musicians to showcase their work, build community, and share new songs.

With short-form video being 2.5x more engaging for audiences, TikTok (and TikTok Stories) are another tool in your arsenal.

What differentiates TikTok as a music promotion platform?

A brief summary for those who arent quite familiar with TikTok:
  • Videos are typically between 15 and 60 seconds long (but can go up to ten minutes)
  • The emphasis is on "authenticity" rather than "perfection".
  • TikTok is about participation instead of a channel for one-to-many broadcasting.
  • Given the ability to record in increments, even short videos can have a narrative feel.
  • You can overlay new live audio on top of the audio from a song or simply lip-sync.
  • It's not about the perfect shot or the quality of the lighting. Everything is fine because it is spontaneous.
  • TikTok pays you a small amount of money for creating videos. A creator's fund pays you 2-4 cents per 1000 views, and you can earn $20-$40 once your video has 1 million views.

The For You Page (FYP)

The For You page, abbreviated "FYP," is the first page you see when you launch the TikTok app. It's a curated feed of videos from creators you may not be familiar with, but TikTok's algorithm believes you'll enjoy them based on your interests and previous interactions.

Several factors influence the content you see on TikTok FYP. Each feed is unique and is based on the content you watch and the interests you express as a new user.

The TikTok algorithm takes several factors into account when deciding which videos to show users. User interactions such as video likes, shares, and account follows are examples of these factors. It also takes into account video information such as hashtags, audio, and captions.

Other factors include:

  • Captions and hashtags from videos
  • Device settings, such as language preference, country settings, and device type.
  • Content you share, like, follow, and create, as well as the comments you leave.

FYP is quite simular to Instagram's Explore Page. The app wants to keep you scrolling by presenting you with more content that you most likely enjoy.

Surefire Ways to Get on TikTok's For You Page (FYP)

Did I say 'surefire'? To be honest, there is no surefire formula for success on TikTok or any other social media platform. Algorithms are always changing, and if your content does not resonate with your target audience, it will not rank. 

However, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of hitting TikTok's FYP.

Let's start with the basics:

  • It is critical to optimize your videos for search engines (SEO). This requires including keywords in your titles and descriptions so that people searching for similar content will be more likely to find it.
  • To begin, conduct research to determine which keywords are most relevant to your topic. Then, incorporate those keywords into the title and description of your video. You can also include them in the app's tags section.
  • Make use of creative visuals. Because the app's main purpose is to watch short videos, it's critical to include attention-grabbing effects.
  • Subtitles can be added to improve accessibility.

Proper use of Hashtags

Some people believe that using #fyp or #ForYou will get their content seen by more people, but there is absolutely no evidence for this! TikTok has never confirmed this, and there is nothing in our reseach that even slightly suggests that using these hashtags contributes to viral success.

You don't want to rely on hashtags and miss out on using keywords that are relevant to your content and niche.

After all, the primary goal of social media is to gain the right followers and then monetize them.

Here are some general TikTok hashtag guidelines to follow:

  • Don't stuff your video with hashtags. Just use a small number of hashtags that are truly relevant.
  • Mix popular hashtags with less popular ones.
  • Use hashtags that are trending in your niche, but only if the hashtag is relevant.
  • Participate in hashtag challenges.
  • Use #fyp and #ForYou, but don't rely on them solely.
  • Remember that there is no tried-and-true formula, so just like on Instagram, you'll need to experiment to find the best hashtag strategy for your account.

Create shorter videos

One of the rankingfactors that TikTok tracks is the so-called video completion rate. In a nutshell, the video completion rate tracks if the viewer stay until the video was completed, and if not, when did they swipe away. Creating shorter, more engaging videos is the most straightforward way to achieve high marks for this ranking factor. Although you can record 60-second clips, using all of the available time will not guarantee viral success. The less time someone spends watching your TikTok, the more likely it is that they will watch all the way through and not swipe away. 

You can increase your watch time by including a hook at the beginning to entice viewers to stay until the end.

Your chances of landing a coveted spot on the TikTok FYP increase as your video completion rate rises.

Create Engaging Captions

You only get 150 characters, including any hashtags you add. With such limited space, you must concentrate on writing short captions that compel viewers to engage with your content.

The ideal TikTok caption should be short, include relevant hashtags, and encourage participation.

So how do you go about doing this?

Well, you could add some mystery by saying something like, "this took me five tries to get right," or "wait until the end." This may entice viewers to stay and watch the entire video.

Another strategy is to ask a question. Another engagement factor is comments, and getting people to watch and respond can help send all the right signals to the FYP algorithm.

You could also tease viewers with the information in your video. "Free tickets to my next concert," for example, or "Merchandise give-away"

Produce High-Quality Video

A high-quality video is more likely to keep viewers' attention on your content, resulting in higher completion rates and more views.

Also, TikTok will not distribute low-quality, blurry, or grainy videos to the general public. At best, users will swipe away; at worst, they will close the app.

With most smartphones now offering HD video, producing high-resolution videos on a smal budget or without a full production team is easier than ever.

Aside from content quality, the platform also rewards editing abilities. Experiment with filters, stickers, and transitions to increase the excitement of your videos and keep viewers watching (and hopefully rewatching) until the end.

  1. To keep your camera still, use a tripod or other stabilization device. This will help to reduce shaking and make your videos look smoother.
  2. Use TikTok's recommended sizes of 1080 x 1920 with a 9:16 aspect ratio.
  3. Make good use of lighting. Natural light is always preferable, but if artificial light is required, make sure it is bright and does not cast harsh shadows.

Post New Content When Your Audience Is Most Active 

With engagement being such an important factor in getting onto TikTok's FYP, posting at the right time can make or break the success of your video.

How do you know when your followers are online and ready to interact? By signing up for a free TikTok Pro account! 

The TikTok Pro Account gets you:

  • The number of video views over the last 7-28 days
  • Profile views
  • Increase in followers
  • Popular videos
  • Demographics by gender/age
  • Your international audience
  • When your followers are online

Publish TikTok Stories

TikTok Stories are video clips that last up to 15 seconds. They, like other platforms' story features, are visible for 24 hours after posting. Your story will be featured in the feed as an in-feed post with a story tag in the upper left corner. Every story you publish within a 24-hour period will appear as a segment in that Story post, so if your message requires more than 15 seconds, you can break it up.

TikTok Stories have a blue circle next to them and appear for 24 hours before disappearing from feeds. 

To Get Your TikTok On The FYP, Just Be Unique.

It may seem like a good idea to copy popular ideas, but one of the best ways to stand out is to create unique content. Take inspiration from the sounds and effects used by others and see if you can take it in a different direction.

You can also use filters and effects to add an extra layer of creativity to your videos by getting creative with your editing techniques.

Remember to stay active and engaged with your followers by liking and commenting on their videos as often as possible.

Quick tips for musicians

  1. Upload your music to TikTok.
  2. Follow other musicians on TikTok.
  3. Keep it simple.
  4. Don't worry about being completely perfect.
  5. TikTok's demographic is young... However, it is attracting people of all ages.
  6. It is not about your song; rather, it is about a musical moment.
  7. See if you can become a meme! Of course, making a musical meme on purpose is difficult. But what makes for good TikTok viral audio? Something with an instantly quotable lyric, something implying a visual stunt, or simply a hook so irresistible that complete strangers will want to drop everything and dance.
  8. Dance! Make a choreography. Make a fun dance to one of your songs. Post it if it's a LITTLE bit difficult but still realistic enough for your fans to imitate the moves with minimal effort! The tutorial will then be posted. Encourage your audience to create their own videos.
    Do you dance on stage? Share a preview of the moves ahead of time on TikTok, so fans can dance along at the show.
  9. Don't underestimate your back catalog - the perfect 15-second snippet might not be in your most recent single; it could be from a song you released years ago (this happened with Lizzo, and her career skyrocketed). So consider your entire catalog in terms of which song contains the most catchy, viral audio snippet.
  10. It is not about you; rather, it is about them. This isn't the kind of place where you put yourself on a podium and everyone bows down to your brilliance. It's about inspiring others to create their own moments through your music.
  11. You can use TikTok as much or as little as you want; there is no need to "feed the beast" as you would with other social platforms. TikTok's algorithm does not appear to (overly) penalize content creators who take breaks. Videos appear to (more or less) be judged on their own merits.
  12. Don’t go crazy with the hashtags
  13. Follow other users and treat TikTok like a community. Thank those who participate in your contests. React to comments. Don't be a bit of a loner. 
  14. TikTok videos can be easily shared on other platforms. Instagram claims to downgrade videos with the TikTok watermark, but... have you checked Instagram recently? I'm not sure how true those claims are because half of the videos on Instagram are TikTok videos. Nonetheless, there are apps available to help you remove the TikTok watermark before uploading to another platform.
  15. Exaggerate!!! TikTok is a platform where viewers are captivated by larger-than-life, in-your-face content. So amplify your personality.
  16. Collaborate with other musicians - Duets and reactions don't have to be limited to you and your fans (or haters). You don't need to ask permission. Just use the same tools to collaborate with other artists to create short video content that will help each of you reach the other artist's followers. You have the option of starting a new conversation ("Hey, #duetthis beat; add your own verse!") or joining an existing conversation started by another creator.
  17. Concerned about being verified? TikTok awards verified badges to accounts that it confirms are genuine (if the account holder warrants verification). But don't put too much pressure on yourself to get verified right away. Put your energy into making good videos. 
  18. Be prolific (if you like) - Because TikTok videos are short, unpolished, and focus on a hook rather than an entire song, you can create TikTok content more quickly. You'll improve every time you post something on TikTok by taking chances with your content and making more videos.
  19. TikTok's algorithm, more than other platforms, judges your videos as individual pieces of content, so the success of your video is not dependent on your prior engagement. This also means that it's not too late to join TikTok!
  20. Get them watch it all... and then watch it again. Suspense is essential. If you want someone to watch the entire video, they must be invested, and there must be a sense of mystery, risk, or deep connection. They must wait for the punchline or to see if the stunt works or not. Draw them back in once the video is finished! How? You can make subtle edits that make the video loop seamlessly, or have a lot of activity or information (including on-screen text) that requires multiple views to catch everything.


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