How to grow your fanbase on one of the largest social media giants from zero (even if you’ve never downloaded the app before).
JUNE 24TH, 2023
Growing your following on the platform
When marketing yourself and your music in general, it’s often a bad idea to depend on using trends to increase your reach; you want to be focusing on ideas and angles that are more likely to stand the test of time. With TikTok, however, you’re dealing with a platform that involves extremely brief attention cycles, so playing into trends is more valuable as your content’s lifespan is so much shorter. Let’s check out some ways to do it!
- If a particular sound is popular on TikTok right now, sample it in a short parody song and film yourself performing or reacting to it (and bring in more people if you have some friends willing to humor you!)
- Jump on a trending challenge and find a creative way of working it into your production process if it makes sense, showcasing the final result
- When a song blows up on TikTok, remix it as quickly as possible, even if that means only finishing a small section first — ride the waves of other artists and grow together!
There are tons more ways you can capitalize on trends, but all that matters is inserting yourself in the conversation happening online in a fun and creative way. You likely won’t hit it just right on your first, second, or even fifth try, but as you figure out what works, you’ll be able to increase your reach and grow your TikTok following faster and have more frequent hits with the algorithm.
Not all the content you repurpose has to be new, though — Lanie Gardner was able to sign a record that can be traced back to a single video, where she took a drink of cranberry juice and delivered an excellent impression of Stevie Nicks. If you take a creative and intriguing angle that hooks viewers, you don’t need to follow a trend to get in front of more eyes ... you can rack up views simply by being fun, unique, and showing people something they never would have imagined on their own.
Essential TikTok features to leverage
If you want to leverage existing users’ content on the platform, it doesn’t get any easier than with the Duet feature. This feature allows you to use any content on the platform selected for Duet by the content creator and put it side along with your own video — so if you want to remix a song performed on TikTok and get some extra clout by positioning your music next to the original creator’s, this is an excellent means to do it. It’s also a great way to save time on the video production side, as simple videos don’t feel as bare when there’s another point of visual interest on the screen.
You can also Stitch videos into your own if you don’t want to lose out on screen real estate. This involves positioning portions of other creators’ videos into your own, often either to provide context or to punctuate your video with other content for you to leverage in the rest of the video. This allows for more creative storytelling opportunities than Duets alone since you control when and how you work other creators’ content into your own.
And of course, there are Sounds, which are essential for anyone looking to jump into the conversations happening on TikTok, let alone for music producers. By leveraging existing audio samples and incorporating them into your videos, you make it easy for fans to connect with your content as you repurpose material they’re already familiar with.
There are tons of features unique to TikTok, but these should be plenty to get you started if you’re not already actively using them. Experiment with the tools available to you, and always try new features as they come out to be the first to the party as often as people. Speed is everything when it comes to reaching new fans on the platform!
Converting fans into customers
Once you have people’s attention, what do you do with it? People aren’t opening the app to discover what music, merch, or event tickets you have for sale — they’re there to be entertained! There’s a marketing principle that you should always keep at the forefront of your mind for this exact reason: “Show, don’t tell.”
Instead of telling fans all about your upcoming concert, post short recordings and mashups of previous performances you’ve done so they see what it’s like to attend live. Rather than posing with signed CDs, DJ a quick set of songs from your new album to build up hype for it. When you drop new merch, let your fans know by showing yourself unboxing it for the first time and showing your honest reaction to holding it in your hands for the first time (maybe reprint it if your reaction is less than stellar).
Aside from the increased engagement you’ll get from making your promotional material fun and steering away from overt selling, you’ll also build goodwill at the same time ... and ironically, you can get away with more sales / drops / pitches in the future since you won’t have to push as hard. After all, you’ve already built up plenty of desire in your fanbase!
Many of the principles for getting views and engagement on TikTok work across different social platforms given the short attention spans of today’s consumers, but there are a number of editing features unique to the platform that make it easy to keep people on it. And since the algorithms are similar between TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels at the time of writing, you can easily repost between platforms for additional views.
If you can manage to seamlessly enter the dialogue in your genre, niche, or circle, there’s nearly endless attention ready for you to capture. With a little creativity and consistency, you can turn it into fuel for your music production career and open up possibilities that were never possible in the past. Good luck, and be sure to create more than you consume if you want to avoid getting trapped on the platform!
About the Author
Harry Lodes is a copywriter, marketing consultant and content writer for audio and ecommerce brands. He lives in the Philadelphia area, releasing Eastern/Western hybrid EDM under the artist name KAIRI hearkening back to his roots in Berklee College of Music.