How To Promote A Song On TikTok

How To Promote A Song On TikTok

Want to get your music going viral on TikTok? Read our tips for unleashing your music into the world's fastest growing social media platform.

Written by Leni - 1 November 2019

It’s the world’s fastest growing social media app and the platform behind 2019’s biggest music success story: Lil Nas X. The 20-year-old college dropout from Atlanta was sleeping on the floor of his sister’s apartment, when his country-trap song “Old Town Road”, became the longest-running number one single in US chart history. 

Released via Amuse in December 2018, Lil Nas X first began promoting the track as a meme on social media but it failed to take off. A few months later, it caught its first stream on TikTok and within days, millions of people were creating videos that used the song as a soundtrack to turn themselves into cowboys and cowgirls. The hashtag #yeehaw soon had over 75 million video views associated with it, almost all of which sample “Old Town Road.” 

From collaborating with influencers, to organising contests and building community, here are our top 4 tips for sending your track viral on TikTok. 


#1 Be Authentic

Authenticity is a vital pillar of any social media platform strategy, but the TikTok community will hold you to an even higher standard. If you’re going to get something going on the platform, you need to be super clear about what you stand for and uncompromising in your convictions. There needs to be a super high level of authenticity with your content or you will be shunned by the community. Do not push follows, likes, comments, ticket sales or streams. Push creativity and community. Take time to build relationships with your audience, be consistent, be honest to your brand values, and listen and engage. 

#2 Collaborate With Influencers

As with most other social networks, influencers are rampant on TikTok. And because of the platform’s casual approach to content (it doesn’t have to be as structured and polished as it might have to be on Instagram or YouTube), there’s a far broader scope of influencers for you to tap into; from fashion and beauty, to sports and dance, food and comedy. However, choosing the right influencer is critical — always make sure there’s a true connection between your song, the influencer and the concept. Relevance is more important than reach.

Take Atlanta hip-hop duo iLOVEFRiDAY’s recent viral success as an example. When video clips of TikTok user NyanNyanCosplay dancing to their song “Mia Khalifa” started appearing all over the platform, views on their official music video increased by 10x and snippets of the song were played over 200 million times. “It’s [TikTok] giving us exposure, and that’s what we need to push the brand forward,” iLOVEFRiDAY’s manager said in an interview with Pitchfork

Ideas for using influencer collabs to promote your song on TikTok: 

  • Get your song used as a soundtrack on their video (with a song credit in the caption) 
  • Co-create a dance routine to your track 
  • Get an influencer to film themselves lip syncing to your song (make sure you publish your lyrics on Reddit and Genius before it goes live. People will be searching for them!) 
  • Film a surprise duet with an influencer using TikTok’s “duet” feature and publish it from both your channels 
  • Get creative and develop a concept for a video meme that plays on your song title/lyrics (like Lil Nas X’s #yeehaw meme). Hook up a partnership with some influencers and get them to recreate it on their channels, using your song as the soundtrack.

Depending on the size of the influencer’s community, you can either reach out to them directly (contact details can usually be found in their social media bios or after a quick Google search!) or submit a proposal via an influencer marketing agency. 

#3 Organize A Challenge 

TikTok challenges are one of the most popular music marketing strategies of 2019, with everyone from Lil Nas X, to Jay Sean, Drake and Megan Thee Stallion (Hot Girl Summer) using them to spread awareness of their latest single or album release. 

Earlier this year, DJ and producer Alan Walker used a TikTok challenge to promote his song “Different World”, asking fans to record themselves doing their part for the environment (like picking up a piece of rubbish) and posting it with the hashtag #DifferentWorld. The creators of the 60 best videos would get a prize. To get the challenge moving, he hooked up contributions by fellow musicians Sofia Carson, Corsak, K-391 and James McVey of The Vamps, who all posted their own videos completing the challenge. Since the campaign went live in January, there’s been over 106m views of videos with the hashtag #DifferentWorld.  

When creating a challenge, make sure there’s a good level of difficulty, a set time period for people to enter (sense of urgency!), and that you reward people for their effort. Think about giving away a prize, like a backstage pass to one of your upcoming shows, or even a shout out through your TikTok profile. Our top tip? Develop a concept that lets people show off. Trust us, it works.

Ideas for using TikTok challenges to promote your song: 

  • Collaborate with professional dancers on the platform to start a dance challenge using your song as the soundtrack. Don’t forget to create an official hashtag for the challenge.
  • Develop a “social impact” concept around the name of your song (like an environmental challenge or something that helps people “give back”). Create a hashtag using the song’s title and let it grow! 

#4 Build A Community 

TikTok users are relentless and obsessive in their quest for community. Your strategy should not just be a single challenge or collaboration with an influencer, you should focus on building a genuine presence on the platform and a community around your music. 

Ideas for leveraging your fanbase to promote your song on TikTok: 

  • Create a user-generated content campaign: ask your fans to record a video of themselves lip syncing or dancing to your song. Award a prize to the best creators, like a backstage meet and greet, gig tickets or signed merch. 
  • Give fans behind-the-scenes access to you and your artist project. Document the creative process behind a new project (like recording your new album, or filming a music video) and be consistent. If your fans feel like they’re part of the project, there’s a bigger chance they’ll support it when it’s released. 

Another popular strategy is to team up with other artists in your niche to cross-promote your content on each other's channels. This is an easy way to find new “qualified” audiences for your content, as piggy-backing on another artist’s community can potentially help you gain their fanbase as your own. Take advantage of TikTok’s “duet” feature, which lets you create content with other users on the platform. Co-create, be persistent, engage with your followers, and create a two-way dialogue with your community. 

So, what’s the first step for promoting a song on TikTok? Start by spending time browsing through videos to see how people in your niche are using the platform. Get a feel for the app and how your audience use it. Experiment with some content, get creative, play around and start to develop your presence on the app. Instead of just pushing a campaign out of nowhere, create a community around your artist project, so you have a base of people to push it to. It will grow organically from there. 

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