In the music industry today, there are various platforms and strategies for artists to break into the scene, and one of the most influential of which is social media, and especially TikTok. Among the popular social media platforms, TikTok has become one of the top music streaming services, a haven for independent artists of all genres aiming to broadcast their sound and get noticed. With millions of active users per month and millions of songs to listen to, standing out and getting your music heard and appreciated on TikTok can definitely take your music career to new heights.
Plus, the music business is all-too-aware of this. The major record labels are on the lookout for what’s happening on TikTok and are uploading promotional music videos and paying to make sure it’s the best-performing music online. This is the stuff your normie friends reach for when they play music for parties on Alexa or Sonos.
So, how can unsigned, independent folk singer songwriters, punk bands, funk artists, hip hop and rap artists, classical music composers, techno/electronic music djs, pop music groups, and music producers upload their best music, find a fan base, and blow up on TikTok? Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. How to add your music to TikTok
Once you’re done with the initial music production, be it in the recording studio or your bedroom (after all, lo-fi audio quality does appear in some of the most popular music streaming today), the next step is to get your music online and available to be used as background music for videos on TikTok. You can upload your new releases (new songs, new albums, or even any and all music in your back catalog!) by partnering with the right digital music distributor for your project such as CD Baby, TuneCore, or Distrokid. When you upload streaming music, you allow TikTok creators to use your music unlimited times in their videos, which can earn you exposure and recognition. It’s worth it not to be too tight on the copyright. Remember, the goal for now is to get your favorite songs streamed, the payday will come later.
2. Showcase the right kind of content
The music market is all about branding, especially digital music distribution. TikTok isn’t a dedicated music service, but it is known for its trends, especially meme sounds, many of which quickly become people’s favorite music.
To make this more likely, your account should be a tightly curated hub for your uploads: original compositions and music videos, songwriting vlogs, favorite song spotlights, or even tutorials on how to create music to sound like you, if you’re feeling confident. When you’re uploading, keep the harmony of your content in mind. This will encourage people to subscribe for content they like and make them more likely to stream music you upload.
If you can create music or other content that resonates with each listener (and the algorithm!), the chances of your music becoming viral increases significantly. Next time you upload a new song, make an effort to create drums, chord progressions, rhythms, melodies, lyrics, and even music-based sound effects that fit the platform.
3. Utilize TikTok’s features
TikTok allows users to create and playback videos, and add effects, text, filters and stickers. Good music on its own will go a long way, but using immersive features alongside it allows for greater chances of virality. By accompanying your recordings with strong visuals, you can quickly leave a more complete impression of yourself on subscribers and future fans than you can by being played on a radio station. Encourage your fans and followers to share your music and create videos that use your music tracks.
4. Engage with fans on the platform
Success on TikTok takes hard work long after you’ve recorded music. TikTok is all about community and connection, especially for a new artist just starting out. You don’t need to be touring like Drake to feel the energy of your listeners. Engaging with fans by commenting on their content, hosting livestream music gigs, and sharing user-generated content using your music helps promote your songs and also makes fans feel seen and appreciated. The dance music video, for example, has gotten so popular among music lovers on this hybrid video/music app partly because listening to music is more fun together.
5. Promote your music
Learning how to promote is not quite as fun as learning how to play, but if you want to succeed in digital distribution and have everyone playing music you’ve uploaded, you’ve got to be the one they find when they sit down to discover new music. That means you’ve got to use other platforms to promote your music on TikTok. Sync up your strategy by sharing snippets of your latest tracks on other platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to drive traffic to your TikTok page.
On Groover, you can contact major labels, music news outlets, radio stations, and TikTok influencers looking for music tracks and new artists to bring to light, even without a record deal.
Looking to promote your music? Submit your tracks on Groover 👇
6. Collaborate with TikTok influencers
Partner with influencers on TikTok with large followings to use your music in their videos. This can lead to millions of views and getting your song heard by a wider audience. It’s easier than you think! No record label required—you don’t need to sign with a major music company for your new album or new single to benefit from new fans who discover new music primarily through influencers.
7. Collaborate with other artists
You can grow your fanbase while having fun creating TikTok content with other artists. This can mean you play music by them in your videos, make videos together, or even make songs featuring each other and distribute your music together (while making sure to release videos using them!)
For example, if you’re a music producer making music without a singer, you can create your next round of draft compositions with a melody sung by another independent artist. Once you finish and upload your music, make sure to tag the independent music group or single artist you worked with. This way, people browsing a streaming music service like TikTok who’ve shown the algorithm that they like the other artist’s content might find a clip of your live music video and check you out, leading them to listen to your music too. This is a great way to get your music heard. People who consume music love to feel that sense of discovery, like a little exercise in self-curation.
Getting your favorite music trending on TikTok takes hard work, dedication and a little luck. Unlike on some other music apps, fans aren’t going to follow you like some kind of music subscription; it’s all about the algorithm and random music discovery. However, you can significantly improve your chances by applying the above strategies. Ultimately, it all boils down to creating good music that resonates with those who listen to your music, engaging with fans, and utilizing the platform’s features.