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TikTok For Musicians: From 0 To Your 1st Viral Moment

By Matthew Vultaggio

May 27, 2022

TikTok is a great way for artists and musicians to get exposure to their music for free, however, you will need to commit time and energy to grow on the platform to start seeing results.

The best way for artists to use TikTok is to publish content at least 3 to 5 times per week, and then experiment, analyze, and tweak their content over time to continue to get more and more exposure.

To learn more about how you can create content that kills it on TikTok and how you can develop a strategy based on how the TikTok algorithm actually works, simply keep on reading, my friend. 🙂

Is TikTok Still Useful For Musicians?

Although growth will be slow early on, an artist only needs around 50,000 to 100,000 followers to have their first “viral moment” on TikTok.

With that said, artists do not need to wait for a viral moment to see results and can definitely grow their fanbase and streams along the way.

TikTok’s algorithm is currently very generous with how much it will push out content from any TikTok creator (regardless of follower counts) which means you can easily build momentum over time if you commit to being consistent.

This also means that you never know who may be watching your content on TikTok (lots of larger artists or industry folk are scanning TikTok) so several different opportunities can come up just from posting on TikTok.

If you know the rules of TikTok, you can develop a strategy and content that can grow a decent following and reach your goals as an artist, so let’s dive in deeper on all of these topics, my friend. 🙂

Understanding The TikTok Algorithm For Musicians

Before learning how to succeed on any platform, it’s important to first deeply learn how it works so that you can use a strategy that gets you the most results possible.

When it comes to TikTok, there is an algorithm that has the ultimate goal of growing the app’s daily active users by optimizing how many users come back to the app and the time users spend in the app.

In particular, TikTok is looking for content that optimizes for the goals that it has which are user value, long-term user value, creator value, and platform value.

TikTok GoalWhat It Means
User ValueEntertain the people that are using TikTok.
Long-Term User ValueMake sure that people keep coming back to TikTok and spending as much time on the app as possible.
Creator ValueMake sure the people that are creating content on TikTok are satisfied with the app.
Platform ValueOptimize the algorithm to continually improve the TikTok app.
A table breaking down the goals of TikTok’s algorithm

These 4 goals are actually outlined in TikTok’s company employee document so adjusting your strategy to meet these 4 goals will help you go further with your TikTok content.

Knowing that the most important thing that the TikTok algorithm is trying to do is to keep both users and creators on the app as much as possible…

You can modify your strategy and actual content so that you are rewarded with views and exposure simply by helping TikTok reach its goals.

How TikTok Recommends An Artist’s Content

Before looking at how you can create the right content to succeed on TikTok as an artist, let’s take a closer look at what specifically the algorithm looks for in any piece of content when deciding to push it out to millions of users or not.

TikTok has also outlined in that same employee document that these key factors influence how its recommendation system works:

  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Video info (captions, sounds, and hashtags)
  • How much time a user spends watching each video
  • If a video is watched or skipped over
  • The frequency that the TikTok creator is publishing content

When reviewing these key factors it is important to note that although having a follower count can help with initial engagement in a post’s first hours, the number of followers is not a requirement for going viral.

The algorithm also doesn’t look at the performance of your previous video, meaning that you can always simply keep focused on putting out quality content and you never know when you might have your first “viral moment”.

So with that said, let’s take a look at how you can actually start creating content as an artist that performs well on TikTok.

3 Steps To Finding Winning TikTok Content

It is best practice to post on TikTok multiple times per week with at least 2 to 3 times per week being the lower limit and 1 to 2 posts per day being the upper limit.

…so what is the best way to start figuring out what to post on TikTok as an artist?

To find winning TikTok content as an artist or musician, you should first experiment with several different types of content, then analyze which types perform the best, and then finally double down on the content that works.

Let’s take a look at these 3 steps more closely so that you can start publishing content to TikTok that moves you closer and closer to your viral moment.

1. Experiment, Experiment, Experiment

The very first step of finding winning content on TikTok as a musician is to experiment with as many different types of content as you can, which is known as “social media experimentation”.

Social media experimentation is the act of posting different types of content to find the optimal content for you to post on a regular basis.

With that said, “optimal content” is not just the type of content that gets you a massive amount of engagement and views.

Optimal content is any content that strikes a balance between high engagement from your audience (likes, views, comments) and content that you are both proud of and isn’t too overwhelming to create.

Regardless, the first step is to put out as much as possible to experiment, such as:

  • Live covers
  • Live performances of your own music
  • Clips of your own music
  • Communicating to your audience
  • Goofy videos/skits

When deciding what content to experiment with, it is highly recommended that you start by doing a bit of research to see what other artists are doing and straight-up copy them.

This will make it easier to figure out what content you should create and you can much more easily find their formula, learn to imitate it, and then adjust the content over time to create your own unique style or spin on it.

Remember that you don’t have to try to be funny or “hot” – just focus on being genuine and relatable.

During this phase of experimentation, you can also test out when you publish your content in addition to what you are actually posting.

2. Analyze

Once you have experimented with as many different types of content on TikTok as possible, you can then analyze the results to get an idea of what you should double down on or try next.

The more you post on TikTok, the more you will be able to gather feedback on your experiments in the form of likes, views, and comments.

When analyzing your TikTok posts, you want to look for the quantity of engagement you get (ie: # of likes or views) in addition to the quality of engagement you get (ie: what kind of positive or negative comments).

When analyzing your TikTok posts, make sure to take note of:

  • What works and gets the best reactions from your audience
  • What does not work for your audience
  • When were good times to post and bad times to post
  • What content you liked and did not like creating
  • Where your views were coming from on TikTok
  • The # of likes and comments per post

To perform this analysis, you should use a combination of TikTok analytics and simply dive into each post individually.

3. Improve & Repeat

Once you have performed your analysis and have a good idea of what worked and didn’t work, it’s time to take what works and try to improve the quality.

Ultimatley you want to take the content that you want to “double down” on based on how much you and your audience resonated with that content and then find a more consistent “format” for that content that you can repeat and refine.

Elements that make up a content’s format include the overall presentation, your clothes, the background, and the editing style.

Keep posting and tweaking your format until you go viral, but remember that when things are working lean into it and don’t keep trying to reinvent the wheel.

Just make sure to balance your own mental health by making sure that these posts are something that you’re actually proud of and are something that you can consistently produce more of without burning out.

It’s important to make sure what works is congruent with who you are as an artist and ideally showcases your creativity – you wouldn’t want to go viral for something like a dance if you don’t like dancing.

Success on TikTok is not just about views and going viral, it’s about being consistent and growing your music career over time.

Also – remember that during this phase you will want to continue to analyze your content after you post it so that you can continue to identify new opportunities and improve on your content.

How To Build A Fanbase On Social Media (For Music Artists)

The best way to build a fanbase on social media that wants to support you and your art is to consistently release new content by combining a recurring content strategy with a content calendar.

Freely giving away valuable content on a consistent basis is truly the key to building individual fan-to-artist relationships and is what can build momentum in your career to the point that you have a real and supportive fanbase.

The more you commit to showing up, the more chances you have to catch the attention of new fans as well as deepen your connection with the fans you already have.

To learn more about how you can build a fanbase on social media with a recurring content strategy and content calendar, check out my full guide called How To Build A Fanbase On Social Media. 🙂

The Best Social Media Platforms For Musicians & Music Artists

…want to go beyond TikTok, my friend?

The best social media platforms for musicians are Youtube for evergreen content & SEO, TikTok for virality & organic reach, Instagram for developing fan relationships, Facebook for its advertising platform, and Twitter for networking and communicating.

Properly using 1 social media platform and consistently publishing content to that platform is a lot of work, so I’d recommend starting with 1 of these and not experimenting with others until you feel ready.

And if you are ready to take on another social media platform, you can learn more in my guide on The Best Social Media Platforms For Musicians. 🙂

Some of my favorite music marketing tools

Thank you for reading this article, my friend, and I hope you found it helpful as you build your own successful career in music. 🙂

Here is a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 4,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist.

Any of the paid services or tools listed here are most likely affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a small commission.

But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I personally use, love, and recommend to anyone – including my own friends and family.

Music Distribution

To get your music on Spotify on all the other streaming services, I use DistroKid because you get unlimited song uploads for a low annual price.

If you want to learn more about DistroKid and music distribution, check out the in-depth DistroKid review that I’ve put together.

Or, if you want to get started with DistroKid right now, you can save on your first year with the DistroKid discount.

Facebook Ads For Spotify Success

Although Facebook Ads can be a real pain to get working properly, there is no denying that they are incredible for growing Spotify streams and getting your music in front of real fans.

This is why I’ve put together a completely free course that you can check out called Facebook Ads For Musicians’ Spotify Streams. 🙂

Music Publishing Royalties Collection

For collecting all of the publishing, mechanical, and live performance royalties owed to me whenever my music gets streamed or played, my go-to is Songtrust.

Songtrust is a publishing administration company which means that in addition to collecting all of those royalties for me, they do it on a global level.

To learn if Songtrust is right for you, I’d recommend checking out this article on Songtrust vs BMI.

And if you want to get started with Songtrust right now, I’d recommend learning about the Songtrust discount code so that you can get the best price. 🙂

Website & Smart Links

I’m personally not a big fan of the link-in-bio and smart links for music pages like ToneDen and Hyppeddit.

Instead, I prefer having a full-blown WordPress website that allows me to have a full website in addition to unlimited music links.

For getting started with this, I really like Bluehost because it is the cheapest and a theme called Thrive Themes because it is the most flexible and easiest to use.

I’ve actually created a free Smart Links Course that you can take to learn how to get set up and start getting more streams with custom smart links (I’ve even included the templates I am using!).

Want more tools and resources for your music career?

If you’d like to see even more of my favorite marketing tools and resources for musicians and music artists, I’ve created an even larger list on this page: Best Marketing Tools & Resources For Musicians (& Music Artists).

P.S. There are even some free tools and resources included on that page as well! 🙂

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