TikTok Music Marketing: How to Thrive in the Music Industry's Changing Landscape

Playing Guitar Recording Video

TikTok has taken the world by storm! The app's massive user base and short-form video format provide a great opportunity for artists to showcase their talent to diverse and engaged audience. This success story began with Musical.ly in 2014, which marked the beginning of a shift in music marketing strategies. This paved the way for TikTok to become a game-changer in the industry.

Success in the modern music landscape, requires staying on top of current trends and adapting to new ways in which people consume music. As one of the world's leading social media platforms, knowing the history of TikTok and how musicians are finding success on it, could be a game-changer for your music marketing strategy.

The History of TikTok Music Marketing

Nearly a decade ago in 2014, the social media app Musical.ly was causing a storm. It allowed users to create 15-second to 1-minute lip-syncing music videos with a variety of editing options for the music track, including pre-set filters and effects. During its peak, Musical.ly garnered a dedicated user base that enjoyed the creative freedom the app provided. It was particularly popular among younger audiences, and emerging artists looking for new opportunities to showcase their talent. This marked the beginning of a shift in music marketing strategies, laying the groundwork for what would become a significant part of TikTok's appeal.

Around the same time, ByteDance, a Chinese internet technology company founded in 2012, was also gaining prominence with its innovative content platforms. Known for advanced algorithms and personalized content feeds, the company developed successful apps like Toutiao and Douyin, TikTok's Chinese counterpart. ByteDance's rapid growth made it a key player in the global tech industry, and in 2017 led to them purchasing Musical.ly to expand their reach among younger audiences. The following year in 2018, ByteDance merged Musical.ly with Douyin, creating the app we all now know as TikTok.

Given that Musical.ly had a focus on music, it comes as no surprise that TikTok music marketing is thriving on the social media platform, and redefining how people discover new music.

Why TikTok Is Good for Music Marketing

TikTok has emerged as a powerful platform for music marketing, primarily due to its massive user base, short-form video format, and a unique algorithm that encourages content discovery. With over 1 billion active users, the app offers an unparalleled opportunity for musicians to reach a diverse and engaged audience who are eager to discover new content. The short-form video format on TikTok is particularly well-suited for promoting music, as it enables artists to showcase catchy snippets of their songs, which can quickly capture users' attention and entice them to explore more of the artist's work.

Another crucial aspect that makes TikTok ideal for music marketing is its algorithm, which is designed to surface content based on users' preferences and engagement patterns. This means that even emerging artists with a small following have the potential to go viral if their content resonates with the audience. TikTok has given rise to numerous viral music trends and challenges, providing artists with creative ways to engage their audience and spread their music organically.

Moreover, TikTok has integrated features that allow users to easily use and share songs in their videos, which further amplifies the reach of a song on the platform. When a song gains traction on TikTok, it often spills over to other platforms, increasing streams on music streaming services and driving traffic to the artist's social media profiles.

In essence, TikTok has become a game-changer for music marketing by offering a unique blend of content discovery, user engagement, and viral potential. By leveraging the platform's features and cultivating an authentic presence, musicians can effectively market their music and grow their fan base in today's rapidly evolving digital landscape.

Why You Should Market Your Music on TikTok

With TikTok, you’re able to easily share short format videos about pretty much anything and everything, from cooking tutorials to collecting trinkets. The key features of the platform include video editing, filters and effects, sounds, VoiceOver, live streaming, duet, stitch and video reply. All of these help with the creation of entertaining content.

The platform is most notable with music sharing and the use of music as part of the TikTok algorithm (which we’ll get into). Many videos, if not most, use background music for their video content, whether it is to promote their own songs, or using current songs that are trendy.

YPulse, a strategic research and insights authority have conducted a study into TikTok and how young people find and discover new music artists.

They concluded in their study in 2021 that:

  • 75% of TikTok users say they discover new artists on the platform
  • 63% say it’s a source for finding music they’ve never heard of
  • 72% associate specific songs with the app
  • 67% of TikTok users have said they’re likely to seek out songs on music streaming services

Without TikTok, popular artists like Lil Nas X would never have been successful, He notoriously utilized the platform with his Old Town Road release to become the backing track to the “yee yee juice” trend. It's a great example for why modern emerging artists should consider TikTok Music Marketing as a part of their promotional strategy.

@solomon.carlsonmusic the story of @lilnasx #music#musicstories#fyp#lilnasx#lilnasxremix#lilnasxoldtownroad#oldtownroad#nickiminaj#lilnasxedit#lilnasxfanpage#lilnasxfan#lilnasxmontero#lilnasxchallenge#lilnasxindustrybaby♬ Old Town Road - Lil Nas X/Billy Ray Cyrus
The story of Lil Nas X on TikTok

How to Get Your Music on TikTok

When promoting your music on TikTok, it's essential to ensure your followers are aware of your tracks. You can incorporate your own songs into the background of your content videos without being overly direct about it. If users enjoy your content, they'll likely be interested in exploring your original music outside the platform.

To get your music on TikTok, consider using a music distributor like TuneCore or CDBaby, which makes your songs available for users worldwide to incorporate into their videos. When uploading a track, select the precise moment you want the song to start, typically the catchiest part. For more details on distributing your music online, checkout our article on the top music aggregators.

How to Promote Your Music on TikTok

TikTok is not just a place for dance challenges and funny videos, it has also become a powerful tool for musicians to promote their music and connect with fans. With millions of users actively engaging on the platform, it has created a unique opportunity for independent artists to showcase their talent and gain visibility. We'll delve into how to build a following and use the platform's algorithm to your advantage, expanding your reach to millions of potential new fans.

1. Leverage the TikTok Algorithm

The TikTok algorithm is by far the most sophisticated social media recommendation engine in terms of connecting their users to discover the things they like. It’s central to the TikTok experience, to ensure their users are shown content that will keep them engaged with their FYP (aka "For You Page"). Every FYP is unique and tailored to that specific user. TikTok believes it gives a fair shot for every video to become viral. Of course it helps if you have a large following, but if your content is niche, original and interesting, it should still get decent traction in user's For You Pages.

Let's say for example, you create a video on TikTok of you performing your song, as part of your new song release. When uploaded, TikTok will show the video to a small targeted sample of users. To create a personalized experience, users are selected based on whether or not the other content they like, share, and comment on, is similar to yours. If your video does well among this small group of users, the algorithm will then proceed to show it to a much wider audience. Adding engaging content can quickly generate thousands of views, which is why so many favor it as a marketing platform.

Now let’s say you’ve enabled the ability to share your music on TikTok for other users to use, and you’ve uploaded content around your trendiest song, and it’s gaining traction! There is a larger chance for more organic promotion. For example, a notable TikTok influencer could post a lip-sync to your song, or stitch another video with your song, and very quickly it could become a TikTok trend. But don't expect this to happen immediately. Like any marketing platform, gaining traction on TikTok requires patience and dedication.

@taj_motivation TikTok CEO Reveals “Secret” Algorithm #tiktok#tiktokuni#ceo♬ In Essence - Ka$tro
TikTok CEO Explains the "Secret" Algorithm

2. Pick a Theme and Stay Consistent

Before you start to produce content, you need to figure out what type of content you're capable of creating that is likely to attract a broad audience. As an artist on TikTok, the end goal is to drive people to your music, and your profile needs to be built around that. However, creating simple snippets of your upcoming tracks, or some behind the scenes footage of the recording process will not cut through the TikTok noise. Remember, TikTok still gives you a chance to go viral from the beginning, but it needs to fit into the spirit of the platform.

The most important thing you can do to create a successful campaign on TikTok, is to pick a theme that you can produce content for often and consistently. This will help TikTok’s algorithm match you with users that enjoy your type of content. From comedy sketches and memes to music production tips, TikTok users don’t want to be sold to, but rather entertained and kept curious. Themes can be pretty broad, but once you’ve chosen one, stay consistent with it.

3. Follow Other Musicians

Following other musicians on TikTok can build relationships and lead to collaborations within the music community. By engaging with other musicians' content and leaving thoughtful comments, you can establish a connection with them and potentially even collaborate on future projects. Additionally, by following other musicians who have a similar style or audience, you can gain insights into their content strategies and apply those learnings to your own content. This can help you refine your approach and create content that resonates with your target audience. Following other musicians on TikTok can help you expand your network, gain inspiration, and improve your content strategy.

@jackgetsfunky#duet with @skatunenetwork The History of Ska! #skamusic#jamaicanskanking#skankinguk#electricbassguitar#bassplayers♬ original sound - Skatune Network (They/Them)
@jackgetsfunky and @skatunenetwork collaborate to present the history of Ska!

4. Create Viral TikTok Hooks

A "hook" refers to a catchy and memorable part of a song or piece of content that draws in the viewer's attention and makes them want to keep watching or listening.

If you can get one to go viral on TikTok, you'll instantly increase your visibility and engage with new audiences. One strategy to do this is to tap into current trends and memes on the platform. You can take popular sounds, hashtags or challenges and put your own spin on them to make them relevant to your music and style.

Another approach is to create unique and catchy hooks that grab the viewer's attention from the first second of your video. Experiment with different musical styles, sounds, and rhythms to create something fresh and original that stands out from the crowd. It's also important to keep your hooks short and simple, as the attention span of TikTok users is very short. Try to make it memorable and easy to sing or dance along with.

Creating viral hooks on TikTok isn't easy. It may take awhile if you're a new users, but with a little creativity and experimentation, they can be a powerful tool for music artists to gain exposure and connect with fans.

5. Use TikTok Hashtags for Views

Just like on Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms, hashtag help users determine the relevancy of the video content. The TikTok algorithm will take into account what hashtags you’ve used, and use them to help target users that are interested in the type of content you produce. One strategy many creators use is to add trending hashtags to their post. If you want to try this you can find TokTok's most recent and popular hashtags on its Discover tab.

6. Collaborate with Other TikTok Creators

Collaborating with other musicians on TikTok can help you reach a wider audience by tapping into the followers of other artists. By collaborating with someone who has a similar fan base to yours, you can potentially gain new followers who may be interested in your music, and bring a fresh perspective and creativity to your content. 

Partnering like this can take many forms, from simply featuring another artist in your video to creating a fully-fledged duet or group performance. It's important to choose collaborators carefully, however, to ensure that your styles and values align. By working with other musicians who share your vision and goals, you can create content that is authentic, meaningful, and effective for your music marketing efforts. 

And these relationships could extend outside the platform as well. You may even find your next band member.

@jackgetsfunky#duet with @thomasalanng #vibewithit#tappingtherapy#bassduet#bassguitartiktok#electricbassguitar♬ original sound - Thomas Ng
@jackgetsfunkycollaborates with @thomasalanng on a bass & guitar duet

7. Build a Community on TikTok

TikTok as a platform constantly drum about their quest to create the best possible community. You shouldn’t only build towards one goal, but multiple that includes different challenges and focuses on building a genuine and authentic presence for TikTok users.

So how to leverage your followers to promote your music on TikTok? Well, there are a few ways. A popular strategy on TikTok is to team up with other artists within your niche to then cross-promote your content on each other’s channels. By essentially piggy-backing on the audiences of your collaborators, you’re potentially getting new followers to see your content, which they’ll enjoy hopefully as it is within the same niche. Most importantly, spend some time looking at how people in your niche are using TikTok to promote their channel.

There are a few things you’ll really need to get into the habit of when building your community around your TikTok:

  • Talk to your audience frequently, whether it is likes, commenting or video replies
  • Try and speak to the camera frequently, as users want to see your authentic self
  • Use the report feature to share videos with your followers that fit your niche
  • Use the stories feature to provide small snippets
  • Create content that is helpful/topic based (if you play guitar, a video about restringing it)
  • Go live to interact with your follows in real-time

It may be challenging at first, but TikTok users love to follow people who are their authentic selves on the platform. They’ll follow you for being you. Talk about what inspires you, your experiences and don’t be afraid to try out the different features. Before you know it, your followers will not only engage with your channel, but also go out of their way to listen to your music.

@mightynetworks Growth comes from working WITH your community: Ask 🗣️, listen👂, workshop 🧑‍💻, observe 👀 #communitybuilding#learnontiktok#communitygrowth#communitytips♬ original sound - Mighty Networks
TikTok growth comes from working with your community

Now that you have everything in place, you can start to actively get your sound out to TikTok influencers. TikTok as a platform provides independant artists huge opportunity to reach people in ways that traditional marketing cannot. Most songs that become trendy on TikTok have catchy lyrics or a memorable beat that can be easily brought to life in video format.

When creating content for your users, try not to worry too much about perfect lighting or framing. TikTok is all about authenticity, it’s just real people making real content, just make it fun! Remember to also add and include any relevant links in your bio to make sure you’re directing TikTok traffic to where it needs to go.

TikTok is a brilliant tool to familiarize your music with thousands of people, a place where songs, videos and interesting personalities all collide together. Want to connect your music to a larger audience? Start creating content today!

Leave a Reply!


TikTok can LEGIT make you money if you really work on it. But you have to really commit. Like make it a full-time job commitment, and unless you just suck you'll eventually get traffic and $ from the creator fund.

music master

Thank you for this! Probably the most thorough and useful TikTok music tutorial I've found online. It really is hard to be a musican today without being on Tiktok

Band Pioneer

Awesome! Appreciate the kind words! And feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Samantha Smith

I agree this tutorial is thorough, but TikTok isn't necessary for success. It can help with exposure, but there are still plenty of other avenues for musicians to get their music out there.

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