How new artists can use TikTok to enhance their careers

Marketeers Fanbytes tell us how artists can get the most out of the latest social media platform...


We all know social media platforms are an essential part of the musical artist’s promotional toolkit.

From Instagram through to Facebook and beyond, online platforms offer great ways for artists and musicians to promote their activities, find an audience and even monetise their music.

TikTok is the latest to offer musicians and artists a way to go viral with their sonic creations. And with 800 million active users, the size of the opportunity is huge. Last year, Lil Nas X's 'Old Town Road' became a huge ubiquitous hit thanks to the platform.

But if you’re unfamiliar with TikTok where do you start? We went to Harry Gordon Tidswell from next generation marketing firm Fanbytes for some advice on how musicians and artists can start getting to grips with the platform to boost their careers…

How should new artists look to initially engage with TikTok as a new social media platform? Could you talk through some of the basics?

Beginning to use TikTok can be daunting, but whether you're an artist or just a regular user, the first thing to do is to just dive in and start exploring.

At first, you will receive a vast range of content - a lot of which you won't be interested in. This is why it's essential to like or comment on everything you love so the algorithm can learn what you like. Before you know it, your 'For You' page will be full of pets, makeup looks, football tricks, or whatever niche you enjoy watching.

How can new artists work at building a presence on TikTok? Do you have any essential tips on what they should do?

There's two types of presence you can have on TikTok as an artist. A musical presence and a social presence. I'll get onto the music presence shortly, but in regards to building a social presence (a popular profile)... The best way to learn is to get involved. Take inspiration from some great content and try to recreate the video editing techniques they use.

The most important thing is to stay authentic to you though - if you're an awful dancer but you're pretty funny, ignore the dance challenges and hop on the comedy trends. Same goes for any trend on the platform. Learn what you're good at, and have fun with it."

One top tip would be to make sure you're jumping on trends right as they're blowing up. If you're one of the early adopters, then your video is more likely to appear near the top of the pile when other people are checking out a particular hashtag, song, or challenge. Also; good lighting. If you want your post to appear on everyone's ‘For You’ page and go truly viral ... the least you can do is open your curtains!

What should emerging acts be aiming for when they use the platform?

There are two key goals artists should aim for when using TikTok: the first is driving streams (via viral hits) and the second is introducing fans to your personal brand (via your profile).

TikTok isn't quite like other social platforms where you can share your upcoming tour dates and the like. Instead, it's a place to showcase your personality. And honestly, if you don't consider yourself a content creator and don't feel comfortable using the platform, then don't bother. Does Drake use TikTok and invest his time into doing pranks, memes and dance challenges? Absolutely not. He lets the music speak for him. What works great for The Jonas Brothers or the Jason Derulos of the world isn't necessarily going to work for Billie Eilish or Radiohead.

What are some typical ways artists can achieve a viral hit on TikTok?

First of all, the song has to lend itself to content creation. Not all great songs are TikTok hits, and not all TikTok hits are great songs. People have to WANT to use it in their videos, either because it sounds cool/fits the mood of their content or because the track actively encourages people to make content around it.

The most obvious cases of this are tracks in which users leverage lyrics into either actions or reactions - such as our Ellie Goulding campaign for 'Worry About Me' in which influencers lip synced the song in a comedy scenario, or Drake's chart-topping modern-day-Macarena 'Toosie Slide' in which the chorus was literally the instructions for the TikTok dance.

Once you have the song, it's all about getting it in the right hands and getting it heard, and without a doubt the most effective way of doing this is influencer marketing.

What sort of music campaigns work best on TikTok? Have you any good examples of success stories Fanbytes has worked with?

The rule book of what traditionally works is being torn up right now, and TikTok is providing a digital playground for music marketers. Obviously, the song has to connect with audiences and a trend has to be engaging to watch but also easy/fun to recreate. Outside of this, there's really an endless amount of options to experiment and be creative. We have run campaigns for tracks that are decades old (Pavaroti's classic, 'Nessun Dorma'), we've run campaigns for songs yet to be released (continuing the viral growth of a TikTok user's recording of a live Tory Lanez concert), and just about everything in-between.

Two of our most successful projects have been for Mabel and JP Saxe & Julia Michaels. For Mabel's track 'Boyfriend', we had influencers across the globe using outfit changes to recreate the looks of different types of guys (skater boys, gym boys, romantic types, gamers, etc). This worked well because the challenge was fun, simple, and easy to recreate at home. For JP Saxe & Julia Michaels track, 'If The World Was Ending', the campaign worked so well because it had already proved to resonate with users on the platform.

Our influencers created super engaging content (actually doubling the industry average) and gained millions of views, which helped to propel the track to further viral success. It is now one of the most used songs on TikTok and is one of our many campaigns to see a song break into the UK Top 20 charts off the back of it's popularity on the platform.

How can songwriters actually earn royalties from the platform? Are there any stats on the kind of sums up for grabs?

Not yet. Right now, TikTok should be viewed solely as a promotional platform. However, a quick glance at the charts is all you need to confirm how TikTok success is relating directly to streams. We see this ourselves in many of our campaigns, such as our work with Good Soldier Songs in which their daily Spotify streams doubled instantly as soon as influencers started using the track. That being said, there are many TikTok sensations that haven't correlated over to streams in the same way. To skyrocket up the charts, the song has to be as good for two to three minutes as it is for the 15 seconds on TikTok.

Obviously there are plenty of social media platforms out there where emerging artists are investing time and energy into creating compelling content. For a new artist, why is TikTok worth engaging with?

TikTok isn't just worth engaging with. It's essential to engage with.

This platform has revolutionised the music industry like few things ever have done before. It's a non-stop hit making machine catapulting unknown artists to superstardom and helping to propel some of the biggest and best-selling songs of all time."

 Social media and the internet age is arguably one of the most significant changes to human way of life that we have ever experienced, and now (with well over 2 BILLION downloads) one of

the most popular social media platforms of them all has music engrained at its core. As an industry, this is the opportunity of a lifetime.

Visit for more information.

You can email Harry Tidswell with any further questions.

Image by Kon Karampelas from Pixabay

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by Jim Ottewill
June 26, 2020
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