How TikTok is Changing the Music Industry: Marketing, Discovery

  • TikTok has become a go-to platform for discovering new music.
  • Record labels, music marketers, artists, and other creators all flood the app with songs.
  • Here’s a full breakdown of Insider’s recent coverage of TikTok’s impact on the music industry.

TikTok is an essential promotional tool for music artists and record labels.

Songs can show up organically on the app even though they’ve stayed out of the mainstream for decades. Marketers can also hire influencers to help a song take off, sparking a flurry of user-generated posts from their fans. And some artists have even set up private listening sessions with TikTok influencers in hopes it will help new songs gain momentum on the app.

“TikTok has really become a staple of artist storytelling,” Kristen Bender, senior vice president of digital strategy and business development at Universal Music Group, told Insider during a webinar on the impact of TikTok on the music industry. “Since we signed our deal with TikTok earlier this year, our labels have had tremendous support on the platform.”

Watch a full replay of Insider’s webinar on TikTok’s impact on the music industry, featuring executives from TikTok, Universal Music Group and UnitedMasters

The industry’s focus on TikTok is not without merit. Songs that trend on TikTok often end up on the Billboard 100 or Spotify Viral 50. And 67% of app users are more likely to search for songs on music-


Diffusion

services after hearing them on TikTok, according to a November study conducted for TikTok by music analytics firm MRC Data.

TikTok has become a hub for labels to promote both new releases and catalog tracks. And a new cohort of social media music marketers has sprung up to support promotional efforts on the app.

Check out Insider’s powerful list of 23 music marketers, artists, digital creators, record labels and other industry insiders who use TikTok to help define popular music

Photos of Jahan Karimaghay, Haley Spencer, Sanu Hariharan and Gaby Fainsilber on a pink gradient background with the TikTok music note logo

From left to right: Jahan Karimaghay, Haley Spencer, Sanu Hariharan and Gaby Fainsilber

Benchmob; Warner Records; belief media; Crush music; Marianne Ayala/Insider


Song promotional deals between music marketers and influencers have become a major source of revenue for TikTok creators. Some users can earn hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a single video where they promote an artist track.

“Music marketing on TikTok is huge,” Jesse Callahan, founder of upstart marketing firm Montford Agency, told Insider. “It’s a great way for labels to put artists in the spotlight for the past two years. It’s also a great way for creators to make a lot of money.”

Learn more about the different song promotion rates for TikTok creators who have a few hundred thousand followers or up to 10 million fans.

Hire micro-influencers for song campaigns

As TikTok’s user base has grown and content has become more saturated, marketers are turning to micro-influencers more than superstars for song campaigns.

“The price of mega stars is extremely high,” Zach Friedman, co-founder of upstart record label Homemade Projects, told Insider. “The way the TikTok algorithm works, it’s hard to know what will succeed. Instead of paying a bounty for a D’Amelio, you could pay a micro-influencer $200 and his TikTok could get 10 million views For that reason, it’s better to cast a wider net.”

Learn more about why some marketers choose micro-influencers to promote new leads.

Work with non-influencer accounts on song campaigns

While the strategy of hiring influencers to spark a music trend is a proven one, record labels are also routinely paying generalist accounts to put songs in the background of videos.

Working with a non-influential account, such as a creator uploading close-ups of slime or filming a hydraulic press crushing random objects, can be an equally effective way to generate interest in a song, music marketers said. to Insider.

“Using these counts like the hydraulic press counts is helpful to give the song a chance to work outward first, and just to get in front of people and let the algorithm know,” said Acrophase Records founder Dan Asip told Insider. .

Find out why TikTok music marketers turn to general interest accounts to promote songs

Create TikTok music challenges to trigger user-generated videos

And some marketers are opening the door for social media users who wouldn’t traditionally be considered influencers to get paid to promote music.

Platforms like Pearpop and Preffy allow labels and artists to create user-generated video challenges that invite users of all sizes to get paid on a sliding scale for participating in a song or artist campaign.

“The original path


influencer marketing

it would work if you were going to pay a few people with big followings, but it would be like throwing a few big logs on a non-existent fire,” Pearpop co-founder Cole Mason told Insider. “With challenges, there’s a way to really Light the fire.”

Learn more about how music marketers are using a new TikTok strategy to make song “challenges” go viral

How record labels track performance on TikTok

Many record labels have teams dedicated to monitoring TikTok so they can help fan the flames over a trending song when it starts to take off.

“Our entire music catalog is efficiently tracked on a daily basis,” said Andy McGrath, senior vice president of marketing at Legacy Recordings, a division of Sony Music focused on the label’s decades-old catalog of songs. “We are constantly monitoring the actions, reactions and trends that occur on TikTok.”

Learn more about how Sony’s marketing team springs into action when an old song starts trending

RCA Records senior vice president of digital marketing Tarek Al-Hamdouni said the label relies on a range of signals like increased streams on Spotify or changes in YouTube viewership numbers to track the effectiveness of a TikTok song campaign.

“If I see that over the course of a week, our audience [on YouTube] went from being mostly male 25-34 and a week later the majority is female 13-24, so it’s a pretty easy bridge to connect between those two platforms,” ​​Al said. -Hamdouni to Insider.

Learn more about RCA Records’ strategy for promoting songs on TikTok

Write songs specifically for TikTok

Tiagz - TikTok Music Artist

Tiagz.

John Arano/Epic Records.


Although TikTok is often a go-to platform for promoting a new track, some artists incorporate the app even earlier in their creative process.

Canadian rapper Tiagz (Tiago Garcia-Arenas) attracted 4.2 million fans to the app by writing songs that directly referenced the app’s popular memes and trends, effectively playing its search and recommendation algorithms of content.

“I tried to figure out the platform,” Tiagz told Insider. “I kept doing these memes because I saw it worked.”

Learn more about how Tiagz used TikTok to land a record deal with Epic Records

Inside TikTok’s internal music division

Not all song trends on TikTok happen by chance or through external music marketing campaigns.

TikTok also has an in-house music division dedicated to monitoring music trends on the app. The team has a series of “promotional levers” they use to increase the popularity of songs. The company can add new tracks to playlists in the “Sounds” section of its app and apply keywords on the back-end to optimize song discovery in the app’s search interface.

Learn more about how TikTok’s music team shapes trends on the app

Host private listening parties with TikTok creators

Some artists and labels work with the TikTok team to organize private listening sessions with creators to promote a song before its release.

In the summer of 2020, as Miley Cyrus was about to release her single “Midnight Sky”, her team teamed up with TikTok to schedule two private parties


Zoom

calls about 15 creators to give them a first listen to the track.

“These creators are needed in the process,” Olivia Rudensky, founder and CEO of Fanmade, a marketing and fan engagement startup that works on digital strategy with clients like Cyrus and Hailey Bieber, told Insider. . “They’re just as important as any relevant stops when you’re promoting or reaching out to tastemakers, because they really are the audience making or breaking music right now.”

Miley Cyrus sings into a microphone with sunglasses in front of a pink and purple backdrop.

Miley Cyrus performs at Movistar Arena in Bogota, Colombia on March 21, 2022.

Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images for MC.


Other artists like Khalid, Demi Lovato and Marshmellow have joined similar events. Hosting a listening session with creators can help an artist’s marketing team understand the types of videos or snippets of a song that could break through on TikTok.

Learn more about TikTok Private Listening Sessions

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