TikTok Marketing for Musicians: The Ultimate Guide - Music Made Pro

· By Will Harken

TikTok Marketing for Musicians: The Ultimate Guide

I have found a lot of guides for TikTok marketing, but they are usually generic and don’t have any specific action steps to take.

  

If you were going to make the ultimate TikTok strategy for marketing your music, what would that look like?

 

This article will give you an answer. To be completely honest, I wrote this more for myself, than for you.

 

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The Quick Summary

 

Weekly Research, Analysis, and Content Planning

Getting into the habit of posting content regularly is one of the most critical factors in any social platform. Actually, doing things regularly is how you get good at anything in life.

 

Which is why I am terrible at social media, personally.

 

Think of it like this: Would you rather be a guy who knows everything about weightlifting but doesn’t exercise? Or a guy who knows half as much, but actually lifts? My guess is that you’d rather be half-jacked than scrawny. The guy who shows up wins. 

 

Even if you have no idea what you are doing, I would argue setting up a plan to keep yourself consistent is important.

 

So make yourself show up by setting up time in your calendar, setting an alarm, or whatever you need to do.

 

I suggest your weekly session be broken into three parts Research, Analysis, and Content Planning.

 

RESEARCH

Research means taking time to look at what your competitors (other tiktokers in your niche) are doing. Follow similar artists and learn from their content.

 

A lot of people start from scratch, when in reality they should start by looking at what people want. What is actually working?

 

The good news is that these same people you are watching, could end up being very beneficial collabs in the future.

 

ANALYSIS

As you post more content, your sessions should incorporate reviewing the performance of your videos. What worked? What didn’t work? Take notes for your future self, so that you can always improve on your releases.

 

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CONTENT PLANNING

Finally, we come to the content calendar, the place you keep yourself and your plan organized. You can plan ahead as far as you like. Some people use Google Sheets, some people use Google Calendar. I recommend either Clickup or Airtable. Because these tools allow you to view data in in different ways (spreadsheet, calendar, kanban, etc)

 

You should be able to include your notes from your research, your notes on your videos performance, and your content plan for future videos IN ONE PLACE. You don’t want to go hunting for stuff.

 

My later points will cover the alleged “TikTok Best Practices” but at the end of the day… shit changes. But putting in the work? That’s timeless.

 

How to Get Your Music on TikTok 

Getting your music on TikTok is pretty easy. In fact, it’s so easy many artists probably have their music on TikTok already, without knowing it.

 

 

Most music distribution services like Distrokid and CDBaby are defaulting to getting music on TikTok for you. 

 

You will have to check with your specific provider, but this should be a very easy step for you.

 

I recommend Distrokid. It’s only $20 a year. It’s what I use and it’s awesome. Plus you can get 7% off right here. Just so you know, that’s an affiliate link I make money with.

 

 

Use your music in your TikTok videos (even old stuff)

This is probably an obvious one, but after you put your music on TikTok, you need to like… use it.

 

There are many ways you can leverage your tune including live performance (acoustic-style), making a dance routine to your beat, or a compelling song explanation. these are just a few ideas, but there really is no limit.

 

Remember: Having a variety of content appears to be a good strategy - so it might be best to avoid making every video a dance to your next Spotify release.

 

Since you only have a narrow window of time to capture attention (the videos are short), you should probably focus on the key musical moments in your songs.

 

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So for most, this is probably the chorus.

 

But maybe there's a moment where you say “My pussy tastes like Pepsi cola” in the verse, and that takes precedent because that’s funny and people might be more likely to “like” and “comment”. That's a Lana Del Ray lyric btw.

 

Don’t forget your existing repertoire of music - that’s a good place to draw content ideas from.

 

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This flowchart I made a while ago combines takeaways from the marketing books Contagious, Made to Stick, and The Tipping Point. Those books are older, but very applicable to videos across YouTube and TikTok. 

 

Overall, I would argue this flowchart is pretty timeless. I’ve seen mechanics from this chart sell multimillion dollar infoproducts and get a crowd of drunk metalheads to start cheering.

 

WHAT THE CHART MEANS

  • Story - Are there characters and an obstacle?

  • Credible - Does the story seem fake?

  • Practical Value - Does the story help people reach their goals?

  • Public - Can people actually find the story?

  • Simple - Can you explain the story in one sentence?

  • Concrete - Does the story progress in the physical world (avoiding abstract ideas)?

  • Emotional - Does the story evoke an emotional response

  • Triggers - Does the story incorporate ideas people are familiar with or loyal to?

 

Unfortunately, you can only increase your chance of making viral content. You can never guarantee it. Especially when you don’t have a big existing audience. A while back, I made this video, Ed Sheeran Style Song Made While I Froze For 24 Hours Straight. I followed these principles very closely, and it really didn’t take off. That’s life! 

 

 

The First 10% Of ANY Video Is Critical

Never forget ASD. Attention. Superior. Different.

 

Most would argue attention is more important than the later two. Because a superior or different product without attention… isn’t purchased.

 

In the case of TikTok, catching the person's attention with the first few seconds of your video is critical.

 

How can you stop a person from going to the next video? 

 

By 1) doing a surprising or unexpected thing immediately or 2) by explaining the surprising thing you are about to do.

 

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That first few seconds should build anticipation for what’s about to happen next.

 

You can do this by using the tips in the last section “What will make people actually watch this?” 

 

Can you incorporate a “trigger” like Lady Gaga in the first few seconds?

 

Or maybe you leverage sex appeal (like 90% of tiktok creators do. jk that’s not a real statistic). 

 

Collaborate with artists who have a similar audience size

This comes back to the  flowchart mentioned in the last section, but leveraging existing influencers is a tried and true path.

 

Chances are good, most influencers will not do a collab unless the collab is mutually beneficial. So when you approach them, make sure you think of everything you can offer them.

 

Have the answer to the question “What’s in this for me?”

 

In most cases, you will probably want to narrow your focus to artists who have a slightly bigger following than you do. Because you and these influencers have an equivalent amount to gain from the collaboration right out of the gate.

 

Typically collabs will be similar to the other content on your feed. So if you’re an acapella group, your collab video should probably incorporate acapella. 

 

This might be obvious, but make sure you tag the collaborator when you post.

 

 

The Alleged TikTok Best Practices

I couldn’t really find data to back any of these up, but this is the anecdotal advice I’ve seen from creators who are finding success on TikTok.

  • Many recommend posting 1-3 times per day

  • Use Hashtags... Obviously

  • Keep your videos casual and fun. Don’t worry about being perfect.

  • Be animated, excited, and dance... if you can.

  • Understand the audience that you have and what they want

  • Share TikTok videos on other social media platforms

  • Audience preferences change, so keep up with trends (see Weekly Research, Analysis, and Content Planning)

 

 

The Trills, A TikTok Success Story

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One of my clients, The Trills, recently hit the 2 million followers! I help them with their email program, but how did they achieve this massive success on TikTok?

 

Here are my biggest takeaways after reviewing their TikTok profile…

 

Perhaps the most common takeaway: There is almost always exciting context given at the beginning of the video. 

 

And the intro is usually very good at keeping you watching. One of my favorite intros they use is the “Let’s see if the band can keep up!” intro. EXAMPLE HERE.

 

The band has definitely pre-rehearsed these bits, right? But by making the video seem like it’s spontaneous, the group’s perceived talent increases.  And it feels like a story, like a challenge, with the possibility of failure. This naturally makes their audience and potential followers want to see what happens.  

 

In all of their videos, every character is animated and excited.

 

They focus on covers. Doing a spontaneous acapella spin on a trending song seems to work well for them. They are taking the song and repurposing it for their style.

 

They also do collabs with TikTokers in the same niche. They don’t even have to meet up with the influencer in person!  They both record their parts of the videos separately and edit them together. It’s easier than ever to do a collab.

 

There is variety in content types. Impressions jokes about holidays, eating at restaurants, birthdays of the band members, and of course acapella challenges.

 

They have one person designated as the TikTok leader/announcer. Katie. She is usually the one who tells you what you are about to watch.

 

THE TRILLS SUMMARY

  1. Explain the surprising thing that’s about to happen in the first 10% of video

  2. Make everything feel spontaneous

  3. Incorporate a challenge (Are they going to succeed? Let’s find out!) 

  4. Every character is energetic and animated

  5. Repurpose songs from popular artists for their style

  6. Do collabs with similar TikTok creators

  7. Do variety of content types, not just focusing on music

  8. Have a regular announcer/leader that is the primary face of your TikTok

AS YOU CAN SEE, THEY FOLLOW A LOT OF THE STRATEGIES I LAID OUT ABOVE.

 

Monetizing Your TikTok Following

Assuming you get to the point where you have amassed a decent following, how do you make money from it?

 

There are a few options, but at the highest level, there are two options. 

 

1) Sponsorships or 2) Selling stuff to your fans.

 

Obviously, you can do both.

 

SPONSORSHIPS

Sometimes, making money comes down to using something other than the flashy new social media.

Sometimes, making money comes down to

using something other than the flashy new social media.

 

With sponsorships, ideally the brand will reach out to you. But that’s very reliant on the reach of your current videos and luck.

 

It is possible to reach out to brands and gage interest too. I would recommend reaching out to the highest person in the company’s marketing department you can find. LinkedIn is a great place to find those people. 

 

Make sure to have a way to track your outreach efforts and ensure they improve over time. For example, split testing the subject line of your first email to these employees.

 

BUSINESS TO CONSUMER (B2C)

In terms of selling your fans stuff, it usually comes down to getting people OFF TikTok. This is because TikTok doesn’t have an integrated way for content creators to sell things within the platform… yet.

 

So this means pushing your TikTok followers onto something like an email list. Maybe a discord server for fans. Or maybe asking them to subscribe on Facebook messenger. The particular place will depend on the demographics of your following (a lot of older people might not have Discord, for example).

 

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