TikTok: The New Way to Promote Your Music

TikTok: The New Way to Promote Your Music

Over the last few years, TikTok has exploded worldwide, helping to jumpstart the careers of hundreds of influencers and artists. Users have access to tons of unique effects, advanced editing tools, and an enormous music library that provides them with a creative outlet. Whether you’re a new or established artist, you’re missing out on tons of opportunities if you’re not using TikTok to promote your music.

The Power Behind TikTok

Developed by the Chinese tech company ByteDance, TikTok is a video-sharing social network that amassed many users after its merger with Musical.ly in late 2018. Recent statistics show that there are over 100 million TikTok users in the United States and roughly 689 million users worldwide.

How Did TikTok Become So Popular?

After Vine died in 2016, people thought the days of short video-sharing apps were over – until TikTok came along. The developers of TikTok didn’t just create an app; they made an experience. For example, when you first download TikTok, you start to see content immediately, capturing your attention from the git-go. There’s no signup screen. Nothing that would prevent you from beginning to explore the app.

Compared to Instagram or Snapchat, TikTok’s interface is much more user-friendly, and it’s easier to edit videos. There are also tons of effects that you can put on your videos, completely surpassing Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook combined.

Even if you don’t use TikTok, you’ve probably seen TikTok videos shared across the web – on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even national news websites. No matter where you see the video, there’s a dead giveaway that it’s from TikTok – the small “TikTok” watermark along with the username. The watermark ultimately helps drive tons of traffic to TikTok from other websites.

Artists that Rose to Fame on TikTok

Since TikTok revolves around challenges and viral content, it’s no surprise that several artists leveraged the video-sharing app to promote their music. A handful of these artists were virtually unknown before their songs spread on TikTok like wildfire.

Lil Nas X

Lil Nas
CREDIT: YouTube/Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X might be the most famous (or infamous) artist that TikTok helped to birth. Known for his provocative lyrics and music videos, the Georgia native has already won both an American Music and BET Hip Hop award for his single “Old Town Road (Remix).”

Country and rap. That’s quite a unique mix. So impressive that “Old Town Road” became an instant hit on TikTok and shortly after climbed the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. Even Justin Bieber commented on the song on social media, adding fuel to the fire that would eventually spark Lil Nas X’s career.


Born and raised in North Carolina, rapper and songwriter Ashnikko gained instant fame on TikTok when she released “Stupid.” Since releasing the song in 2019, over 400,000 TikTok users have used the song in their videos. Currently, the song has over 60 million views and counting on YouTube.

Ashnikko’s success didn’t stop with her song “Stupid.” The rapper collaborated with TikTok and Beats by Dre to create the piece “Daisy” in 2020. This song surpassed “Stupid,” hitting peak positions on charts worldwide – number one on Turkey Radiomointor International List and three on the US Bubbling Under Hot 100.

Loren Gray

Another TikTok sensation is Loren Gray, who gained fame at the sheer age of 18. Even before her time on TikTok, Loren was quite popular on Muisca.ly, where she posted videos of herself lip-synching to “Fancy” by Iggy Azalea.

Albeit already popular on social media, Gray got her big break after she recorded the song “My Story” with Virgin Records. Despite her young age, “My Story” catered to a mature audience and the more “serious” side of TikTok. As of mid-2020, Loren Gray had over 53 million followers and was ranked 9th for most followers on the video-sharing app.

How to Release Your Music on TikTok

Creating content on TikTok is a breeze, especially given that all the videos are entirely user-created. Releasing music on the application is a bit more involved but still relatively easy to do. You need to work with an independent music distribution service such as DistroKid or TuneCore.

How Do Independent Music Distribution Services Work?

Unlike signed artists, independent artists typically have to go through a music distribution service to get their songs on TikTok. These services get your music on various platforms for a small fee – TikTok, Spotify, Apple Music, and so forth. The distributor will collect any earnings and subsequently remit them to you.

Most distribution services will charge a flat fee for a single and album. It’s often a bit cheaper for an album. Neither DistroKid nor TuneCore takes any percentage of your music’s earnings.

Does TikTok Pay Artists Each Time Someone Plays Their song?

Artists do not earn royalties based on the number of video streams but rather how many videos contain their music. Each unique video earns the artist a small amount – around a few cents or a fraction of a cent. TikTok pays the commissions to record labels and distribution agencies and they then pass on a portion (or all) of the money to the artist.

Video creators can earn great money with TikTok since they get a share of the exclusive “creators fund.” They also get to reap the benefits of lucrative sponsorships. Artists, on the other hand, only make a marginal amount from TikTok.

Most artists don’t put their music on TikTok for the money; they put it on the video-sharing app to self-promote. The app lets video creators pick from a massive library of songs, so there’s quite a bit of competition for artists to get “noticed.” However, if your music is playing in a video that goes viral, you could quite literally become a sensation overnight.

A Look at the Size and Competitiveness of TikTok’s Music Library

Getting your song on TikTok is the easy part. Getting your music in videos is a bit more complicated. In the year 2020, 176 songs on TikTok surpassed one billion video views. Out of the 176, 100 of these songs made it on “The Year on TikTok: Top 100″ list.

Many of these songs made it on this list because TikTok users played them while creating viral trends. Another interesting observation is that a handful of the songs on the list were not new. For example, “Where is The Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas ranked number six. The Black Eyed Peas recorded this hit in 2003!

As you can see by the list of most famous songs, you’re competing with new and old music – new music produced by some of the biggest record labels in the United States and old music that once ranked on the US Billboard Top 100.

Paying to Promote Your Music on TikTok

Although some artists prefer to promote their music organically, you can pay to promote your music on TikTok. However, it’s not as straightforward as promoting your music on YouTube or Facebook, for example. Paying to promote your music on TikTok requires a bit of creativity.

Pay Popular Creators to Use Your Music

Spend some time and find popular TikTokers who have an audience with a high likelihood of enjoying your music (and a possibility of putting your music in their TikTok videos). Your budget will define the profiles you should go after. For example, with a budget of $100, you won’t have a chance to partner with a user with over one million followers.

Most TikTokers with a decent-sized following should have a business contact on their profile. Depending on the creator’s popularity, the cost to promote your song will likely range from $100 to $20,000.

Promote Your Music with TikTok Ads

Another method of promoting your music on the video-sharing app is to use TikTok Ads. To start advertising on TikTok, you will need to sign up for a TikTok For Business account. From there, you can create an advertising campaign starting at $50.

How TikTok Ads Works

If you have advertised on Facebook or Instagram before, starting an advertising campaign on TikTok should be relatively easy for you. Below are the key steps to creating an ad on TikTok:

Set Your Campaign Objective

TikTok will first ask you what the objective is your campaign is. Potential responses include getting people to install an application or driving traffic. Next, you’ll set a maximum budget (either per day or a lifetime budget).

Define Your Ad Type

The advertisement is a subset of your campaign. This step of the advertising process allows you to specify the ad placement, define your target audience, and create a bid for each ad.

Create the Ad

Now the fun part – actually creating the ad. TikTok lets you upload both photos and videos that you want to include in your ad. You can also add text and buttons to the advertisement. And most importantly, you get full access to TikTok’s suite of effects and tools.

Understanding TikTok’s Demographics

Before setting out to promote your music on TikTok, it’s essential to understand TikTok’s demographics. According to recent statistics provided by TikTok, there are about 80 million active monthly users in the United States alone. Of these active users, 60% are female, and 40% are male.

The users of TikTok generally fall into the Millennial or Generation Z age group; 80% of its users are aged 16 to 24, and 26% are between 25 and 44. Currently, the application is available in 154 countries around the globe. However, due to political reasons, a few countries, such as India, have banned access to TikTok.

Based on TikTok’s Demographics, is it Worth it to Promote Your Music on the App?

Depending on your style of music, it may not be worth it to promote your music on the app. With 80% of users between the ages of 16 to 24, it’s probably not the best idea to promote classical or hard metal on the app.

So, What Type of Music Are Gen Zers and Millennials Listening to Nowadays?

YPulse asked Millennials and Generation Zers what musician best represented their generation. The answers weren’t too surprising. The top five names included Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Drake, and Justin Bieber. Given that these artists are extremely popular with the Gen Z and Millennial age group, it’s safe to say that today’s younger generation favors artists around their age.

As for the genre, pop seems to be the most popular, followed by alternative/indie, rap, and hip hop. Does this mean you need to be a young pop singer to promote your music on TikTok successfully? No, definitely not. You may have a higher likelihood of success, but there are a few real-life examples that deviate from the norms of today’s musical taste.

The Cranberry Juice-Drinking 420diggface208

Who would have thought a video of a man skating down a street and drinking cranberry juice with “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac would become one of the most-viewed videos on TikTok? Was it the song or perhaps the talented skating coordination? Whatever it was, the Idaho man behind the viral video now has over 6.5 million followers on the video-sharing app.

What’s more interesting is the impact this video had on the song “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. Released in 1977, this isn’t exactly the type of music that Millennials and Generation Z enjoy. However, after the cranberry juice-drinking skateboarder posted his viral video on TikTok, “Dreams” emerged into the top 10 on Billboard’s Streaming Songs chart. It also reached 16.1 million streams in one week alone.

Music Popularity on Music: The Verdict

The Idaho man 420diggface208 proved that you don’t need to use the latest pop or rap music to make a viral video. So, if you’re not a millennial pop singer, there’s still hope for you when it comes to promoting your music on TikTok. Perhaps what’s more important is the person or action in the video and not the song itself. “Dreams” was trendy in its day, but who would have thought that a Chinese-made video-sharing app would put it back on the charts?

Find Channels Beyond TikTok

Social Media

The first step to promoting your music is to get users on TikTok to use your songs in their videos. If you want exponential growth and maximum exposure, you need people to share these videos on other platforms – YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

You can do this either organically or by sponsoring influencers. For example, if you already have a Facebook page with many followers, start by sharing the video(s) on your page. If you don’t have access to other social media accounts, you will need to pay influencers to share the videos for you.

The Power of Collaborations on TikTok

If you already have a TikTok account and a decent following, collaborating with other creators is an effective and cost-friendly way to promote your music. Most TikTokers create collaborations in the form of “duet” videos. This tool allows you to create a video that appears to the right of another user’s video.

TikTok and the Discovery of Talent

TikTok has already proven that the art of discovering talent is changing. Take Lil Nas X, for example. Without the power of TikTok, he wouldn’t have the platform that he does now. TikTok has outperformed other social media platforms for sharing short videos because of its unique effects and user-friendly interface. With hundreds of millions of active users and the viral nature of the app, there’s enormous advertising potential for artists who want to get their names out there.