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Since its barrage in 2017, TikTok has become a all-around sensation, assertive the apple of aboriginal abbreviate anatomy video, and affective abstruse songs on to become chart-topping hits. In this absolute guide, we assay the mechanics of TikTok and outline some key strategies for application it to advance your music.
Guest column from the Soundcharts Blog
We accept all heard of TikTok and its massive all-around capture. Aback its barrage aback in September 2017, the amusing media app committed to creating abbreviate ‘authentic’ videos has broadcast to over 150 markets and became a cultural abnormality on a all-around scale. Today, TikTok is a admired anatomy of ball for some millions of users — and a belvedere with a accurate clue almanac of demography alien songs and axis them into global, chart-topping hits. In 2020, TikTok has become an basic allotment of the music business landscape, and that’s why we’ve absitively to put calm this absolute guide, breaking bottomward the mechanics of TikTok, and action through some of the capital strategies for announcement music on TikTok.
TikTok All-around MAU, September 2017 — May 2020, million. Source: PrioriData
The affairs are you are acquainted with TikTok on some akin — alike if you’re not an alive user yourself, you care to be accustomed with the agreeable and trends that accept originated on the platform. However, adage that TikTok is aloof a short-form video administration belvedere would be a massive oversimplification. Abbreviate video architecture in itself is hardly new — you can acquisition it on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, etc. TikTok isn’t alike the aboriginal belvedere to put the architecture avant-garde and centermost — Vine went there 7 years ago. So, what makes TikTok so altered from every belvedere that came afore it?
To acknowledgment that catechism we accept to booty a abrupt dive into the history of the platform. It’s a accepted delusion that TikTok was built-in aback ByteDance, a Chinese startup, bought Musical.ly in 2018 — which is aloof a allotment of the story. In fact, the two apps acclimated to abide ancillary by ancillary for about a year, as TikTok was aboriginal launched as an all-embracing adaptation of ByteDance’s Douyin aback in September 2017.
It won’t booty continued to call Douyin to the western admirers — for all intents and purposes, it’s aloof TikTok on the Chinese market. Sure, there ability be an added affection actuality and there — but at its core, Douyin is TikTok and carnality versa. That counterintuitive two-app set up is not alike a business accommodation — it’s a aftereffect of regulations imposed by the Chinese government on the bounded tech industry (If you’d like to apperceive added about how the Chinese tech industry works, assay out our deep dive into the Chinese Music Market)
So, aback in 2017 Douyin was the fastest growing app in China by a huge allowance — and at the amount of that advance was one thing, and one affair only. Today, we now apperceive it as the “TikTok algorithm” — a (so far) incomparable system, that allows TikTok to serve hyper-personalized feeds to its users, based on their behavior on the platform. That algorithm was the capital architecture block of the app’s success — and it’s the aforementioned affair that drives TikTok today.
So, Douyin was authoritative a lot of babble aback in China, and ByteDance absitively to aggrandize its operation overseas. TikTok was launched in September 2017, but adverse to the abstraction of TikTok as this “grand atomic success story”, the aboriginal year of the app on the all-embracing bazaar was absolutely appealing quiet in comparison.
You see, every amusing media out there is subjected to what is accepted in business attitude as the “communication acceptable effect”. In short, it comes bottomward to a simple equation: the added bodies use the product, the added admired it becomes — and you could altercate that TikTok is alike added affected to that aftereffect than the brand of Facebook or Instagram. This can admonition us explain the abstinent success TikTok throughout its aboriginal year on the all-around amphitheatre — a cardinal of alive users bearing agreeable on the belvedere plays a huge role in basic the app’s amount proposition.
In August 2018 ByteDance alloyed Musical.ly into TikTok, finer cloudburst its 100 actor MAUs into the video-sharing app — and that is aback things absolutely exploded. In a amount of months, TikTok’s alive admirers grew by over 150 million. Aloof a few months afterwards a abstruse absolute rapper from Atlanta uploaded an aberrant song on the platform, afterward his plan to “promote it as a meme”. That song concluded up breaking the Billboard’s almanac for the longest arch #1 song on the Hot-100 blueprint — I’m talking, of course, about Lil Nas X and his breach out distinct Old Town Road.
In a way, that was the moment aback bodies about the music industry absolutely saw what TikTok is able of. From that point on, the belvedere has become the ability to be reckoned with, and anon abundant begin its way into business strategies of artists of all shapes and sizes. That said, we accept to accept that while the TikTok admirers is massive — closing in on the anniversary of 250 actor alive users as of May 2020 — some sources tend to enlarge the platform’s importance.
One of the best accepted metrics befuddled about is TikTok’s 800 actor MAU — which is not technically false. However, it does calculation Douyin’s 500 actor user abject as the admirers of TikTok, and accustomed the two-app set up we’ve categorical above, that’s not absolutely valid. Alike admitting TikTok has absolutely begin acquirement with the Western audiences, it’s yet to bout the ambit of its Chinese twin.
What makes TikTok special? What makes it altered from any added belvedere that came afore it? Let’s alpha with that quick stat: in 2018, more than 55% of all alive TikTok users were not aloof watching videos on the belvedere — they were consistently uploading videos of their own. And that is aloof huge.
Compare that to YouTube, for example. It’s absurd to acquisition an exact amount for a allotment of YouTube users that are uploading on the platform, but it’s acutely aloof a atom of the platform’s 2 billion all-around user base. In that sense, admitting its massive role in avant-garde agenda culture, YouTube is still a belvedere that is abiding in traditional, “one-to-many” admonition schema. So what TikTok did is that it took the many-to-many admonition admission begin on amusing media and activated to video — arguably the distinct best important architecture of the agenda age. On TikTok, anybody is an audience, and anybody is a creator, and that is the key to TikTok’s success.
First, what TikTok did was to abolish all traction, on abandon of the system. For the accumulation of content, ByteDance fabricated abiding that it’s actual accessible for a user to alpha creating content. Sure, it can booty hours, canicule or alike weeks to aftermath some of the best avant-garde agreeable on the platform, but if we’re talking a simple, “salt of the earth” TikTok, it apparently won’t booty you best than 10 annual to go from an abstraction to a final adapt layered with filters, effects, and music.
Then, on the appeal side, TikTok has congenital a augment brash to host all that user-generated content. If you accept had any acquaintance with the brand of Tinder, you’d apparently apprehension that watching videos on TikTok resembles the breeze of those dating apps in a lot of ways. As a eyewitness on TikTok, there’s a distinct capital action that you can accomplish — you can bash up to skip the video and anon get to the abutting one. That’s it — and that set up allows TikTok to do commodity that no added belvedere can. It can allow to serve its users videos they’re not absolutely absorbed in — worst-case scenario, they’ll aloof skip it. The accomplished alternation will booty aloof a few seconds. In fact, some would say that this “instability” of the TikTok augment is one of the capital affidavit abaft the app’s addictiveness. There’s aloof commodity actual arresting about that action of “looking for commodity interesting” about TikTok’s acutely amaranthine feed.
But that arrangement wouldn’t assignment if it weren’t for the abstruse additive — the advocacy engine. In a way, TikTok was the aboriginal app in history that is based absolutely on a assumption of AI confined agreeable to the viewer. I mean, there is a committed area of the app that allows users to watch agreeable by the creators they follow, but it’s the “For You” advocacy area of the app area the abracadabra absolutely happens. If we would assay it to YouTube — alike admitting advocacy and programmatic curation is a huge allotment of it now, YouTube is still about bodies abyssal the belvedere and allotment the agreeable they appetite to appoint with. On TikTok, there’s no such affair as a absolute choice, Users don’t accept any absolute ability over the agreeable they are arresting — it’s all about the algorithm that gets to apperceive you as you absorb added time on the platform.
Initially, this was declared to be a area of the commodity area we array of accept on the attempt that drive the TikTok advocacy agent — since, you know, TikTok acutely doesn’t acknowledge how it all works. But in a advantageous coincidence, aloof a few canicule ago, TikTok aerial the blind and appear an commodity on the platform’s blog breaking bottomward the capital architecture blocks of the TikTok algorithm. We won’t go through all the capacity of how the platform’s advocacy agent is set up — here’s a articulation to the aboriginal post if you’d appetite to dive in. Instead, let’s try to understand why the advocacy agent works that way.
Given the accord amount on the platform, the TikTok algorithm has to accord with a arduous aggregate of agreeable that none of the platforms that came afore had to accord with. And aback it comes to processing that astronomic breeze of user-generated content, the primary assumption of TikTok advocacy is that every video gets a chance. Here’s how they put it in the blog column we’ve mentioned above:
“While a video is acceptable to accept added angle if acquaint by an annual that has added followers, by advantage of that annual accepting congenital up a beyond addict base, neither addict calculation nor whether the annual has had antecedent high-performing videos are absolute factors in the advocacy system”.
The capital ambition of the TikTok’s advocacy agent is surfacing agreeable that is absorbing in one way or addition — behindhand of the antecedent admirers of the creator. Aback the video is uploaded on the platform, TikTok will accept a baby sample of admirers and appearance them the video to assay it out. If it does able-bodied amid that attenuated accumulation of users — demography into annual metrics like achievement ratio, comments, shares, and brand (you know, the accepted stuff) — the algorithm will advance to appearance the video to a added audience. And then, the aeon repeats.
That admission allows TikTok to booty a video uploaded by a approved “no addict abject whatsoever” user, and circuit it to bags or alike millions of views. Which absolutely gives us a angle on the platform’s incomparable accord rate. Any user on TikTok has a adventitious to get millions of strangers to appoint with their video — and I don’t accept to acquaint you about the amusing media aerial that comes with all those views, likes, and comments.
So, you can appearance TikTok as a two-way street. First, you accept a cull of 200 actor users coursing through their feeds, attractive for commodity absorbing and engaging. Then, bisected of them additionally upload on the platform, in a achievement of acceptable a “TikTok Influencer” — creating a massive basin of agreeable for the algorithm to process, test, and advance upwards. That set up is what makes TikTok such a abundant arena for all things viral. This antithesis is what makes things like memes, viral ball routines, and challenges such a basic of the platform.
Let’s say there’s a video acquaint by a big TikTok influencer lip-synching to a song — and that video avalanche in favor with the algorithm. Millions of bodies are action to see it, and let’s say that commodity like 1% of them will adjudge to do their adaptation of the lip-sync — afterwards all, the aboriginal video did so well! Those videos will alpha a adventure of their own, the aeon will echo itself — and afore long, you accept a TikTok trend on your hands. And added generally than not there will be a song absorbed to it, acceptable a banderole of sorts, signaling to the eyewitness that this accurate TikTok is a allotment of a bigger trend.
That is a bit of an oversimplification, of course. Not all songs will accomplish it on the platform, and not all dances will alpha a challenge. Besides, there’s added to the TikTok algorithm itself. There are capacity assigned to the videos, akin with the user’s absorption profiles. TikTok, aloof like YouTube, is a multi-faced platform, with hundreds of altered narratives developing accompanying beyond the amplitude — you accept your adorableness blogs, ball routines, ball sketches, hell, alike banking admonition blogs. But whatever the angle is, the amount assumption on which the algorithm is congenital charcoal the same.
So, with that anterior allotment of the way, let’s get to the affection of the matter. With all the belief of all-around hits breaking through TikTok — how can artists and music professionals advantage the platform? Well, the aboriginal affair that you accept to accept is that aback you admission TikTok as an artist, there are absolutely a few paths you can take, that all ultimately advance to the aforementioned end goal.
First and foremost, you can appoint with a belvedere anon and aggrandize your amusing media ability into TikTok. That agency creating and growing an artist’s TikTok annual to aggrandize the all-embracing ability of their music — aloof like you would on Instagram or Facebook. But afore you adjudge to appoint with the belvedere as a creator, you charge to accept what blazon of built-in TikTok agreeable you can aftermath to fit with your artist’s universe.
The affairs are, if you appetite to alpha a folio as an artisan on TikTok, your end ambition is alive bodies appear your music. So, the artist’s TikTok contour has to be congenital about that — which agency award a way to affection music in the videos you produce, while authoritative abiding that they still fit the spirit of the platform. Artlessly announcement snippets of your accessible advance or abaft the scenes footage from the flat is not action to cut it — added platforms are way bigger for that. Aback you body your afterward on TikTok, you accept to bethink that you’re in the easily of the algorithm, and while it can accredit you to get in avant-garde of A LOT of people, your agreeable needs to be short, addictive and engaging.
Like on any amusing media, a few practices accept accurate to advance the advance of a user’s following. If you appetite to aerate your affairs of action viral, actuality are some tips for you to booty into account.
The best important affair that you charge to do aback planning your acceleration to acclaim on TikTok is to aces a affair (aside from your music) that you will centermost your agreeable around. This will admonition the algorithm to put you in a assertive class on the belvedere and bout you with bodies who adore that blazon of content. What’s your approaching TikTok annual action to attending like already it’s congenital up? Is it ball sketches and memes? Is it music assembly tips? There are a lot of agency you can go about it — while Jason Derulo’s TikTok is all about ball routines, Diplo’s official account is all ball and sketches. Your affair can be appealing broad, but already you aces one — break consistent.
Hashtags are apparently the best important adjustment to actuate the accommodation of a video. If you accept accepted hashtags, that should admission the affairs of your video actualization on TikTok’s Discover and For You tabs. Assumingly, the TikTok algorithm will booty into annual the hashtags to actuate what’s the video is about — so accomplish abiding you accord it abundant to assignment with. For some insights on what hashtags are accepted appropriate now, assay out the Discover tab.
Remember how I’ve talked about the actuality that the actual attributes of TikTok agency that all sorts of trends and challenges curl on the platform? Well, if you’re attractive to abound your own TikTok account, the aforementioned attempt will administer to you. If there’s a new claiming alarming up on the platform, TikTok admirers will be added acceptable to appoint with that blazon of agreeable — and the algorithm knows it. So, if you see the trend that’s up your alleyway and accept an abstraction for an agreeable booty on it — by all means, go for it. But remember, you accept to break constant — so don’t amplitude too far from the amount of your agreeable strategy.
And don’t balloon about hashtags, too — there’s care to be one absorbed to the trend. Bodies who appetite ball go to the Discover tab to see what’s trending, so you’d appetite to get your videos there as well.
Since you’re application TikTok as a approach to advance your music, accomplish abiding that all of your alive followers on the belvedere apperceive abuse able-bodied what you’re accomplishing alfresco the platform. You don’t charge to be too edgeless about it — TikTok is hardly a abode for “New Distinct Out on All Streaming Platforms” announcements. However, if you’re bearing built-in TikTok content, you accept every acumen to use your own songs as soundtracks.
Not that continued ago, TikTok formed out a proprietary analytics dashboard, accessible to all creators on the belvedere as a chargeless feature. With TikTok Pro, you can clue contour and video views, addict dynamics, admirers demographics, and get insights on your agreeable to see which of your videos assignment best. To about-face to a Pro account, artlessly go to Manage my annual tab, and bang on About-face to TikTok Pro. You’re all set!
In added details, TikTok Pro Includes three capital views:
The app starts tracking from the day you about-face and needs at atomic 7 canicule to accumulate some of the added insights. It’s awful recommended to go Pro as anon as you alpha announcement content!
TikTok claims to be awful alive apropos its users’ safety. To actualize a ambience of accurate interaction, TikTok blocks spam-ish, offensive, or adverse content. If the belvedere notices any of the following, it will ban the account, so try to abstain it at all cost:
But about big your own TikTok annual can potentially get, it won’t assay with the appulse of one of the artist’s songs acceptable a soundtrack for a accepted TikTok trend or challenge. Which brings me to the additional action you can accept to advantage TikTok’s viral attributes and massive audience.
In the aftermost year, we’ve apparent abundant business agencies — Fanbytes is the aboriginal name that comes to apperception — army to the platform, alms brands and artists their ability in ablution viral TikTok trends. From the music industry perspective, this is area the ability of TikTok absolutely is. TikTok trends and challenges can accompany astronomic acknowledgment to the artist’s music — and if you get the aggregate of the artistic abstraction and music right, it won’t alike amount you that much.
At its core, any TikTok claiming consists of bodies recreating an aboriginal video with their different touch. All challenges are associated with a few hashtags, one of them actuality the name of the challenge. For example, Benny Blanco’s, abstract WRLD and Fanbytes accept afresh pushed the #schoolyears challenge to advance the song Graduation. The claiming was all about accepting users reminiscing about their academy years by assuming how they’ve afflicted throughout academy — ending, of course, with the graduation. That claiming was recreated over 80K times, and has over 6M angle — and by TikTok standards, that’s not alike such a huge number.
While the amplitude about TikTok trends and challenges is growing added and added aggressive with anniversary day, it’s still actual abundant every man’s game. All it takes is a acceptable idea, a addictive song — or rather, a addictive moment — and a few acceptable influencers to bang the things off. But let’s booty it one footfall at a time. Here’s our footfall by footfall adviser to ablution a TikTok challenge.
I can’t accent this abundant — TikTok is a different belvedere with a different feel for content. So if you’re planning to accomplish the belvedere a allotment of your business strategy, the best admonition I can accord you is to go and absorb time on the belvedere yourself. Try to accept which agreeable is accepted and why — that acquaintance will be invaluable in the closing stages of planning your viral TikTok campaign.
Now, it’s time to dig in and appear up with the abstraction for your approaching challenge. And on TikTok, it should all alpha with the song itself, or, rather, a music moment. You see, aback it comes to TikTok challenges 15 abnormal excerpts assignment best. That is not an acute per se — but abbreviate agreeable is what absolutely drives the platform. For example, TikTok suggests using videos of 9-15 abnormal continued as a best convenance for in-feed ads — and there’s every acumen to accept the aforementioned rules will administer to your approaching challenge.
So, abstraction your music and try to locate a few 15-seconds continued TikTok moments — the genitalia of the song that you anticipate accept the best viral potential. There’s a lot of things that can assignment able-bodied on the belvedere — attending for abruptness drops, memorable lyrics that can assignment alfresco of the son’s context, ect. Your TikTok moment should affix with the affair of the approaching challenge, whether through lyrics, or the activating of the music itself, but be able abundant to leave allowance for interpretation.
That’s a simple step, but it’s still annual noting. Not all of the agenda distributors assignment with TikTok so far — so it will be able-bodied brash to assay with your benefactor to see if the song you’ve called will be accessible for TikTok creators to use.
As for the artistic abaft the claiming itself, you should consistently yourself: what will the admirers get out of it? What will accomplish the claiming memorable? Your claiming has to be agreeable and accessible to accept — the video that will alpha the claiming should acutely aback what the claiming is about.
And then, alike added importantly, anticipate of what the creators will get out of accepting in on the challenge? Is it brash to animate rewatchability? Is it accessible to recreate? Does it leave abundant allowance for estimation and modification? Afterwards all, at launch, TikTok challenges are added of a arrangement for creators to assignment with and aggrandize on.
Every trend need’s a name for bodies to assay it and appoint with it. So, aces a bright and memorable hashtag, that will tie the claiming together. If all goes well, that name will be associated with your music for a continued time, and there’s no axis aback already it’s out. So do put some anticipation into it.
The affairs are you accept a appealing acceptable abstraction of what your ambition admirers is. Now, brainstorm the TikTok’s audience, and try to acquisition an overlap. That is your TikTok target. What are they absorbed in? What blazon of Tik Tok do they enjoy? The abutting footfall is to acquisition TikTok influencers who accept a acceptable affection with that admirers to acquaintance them with an action to barrage a claiming — so you accept to accept area your TikTok admirers is.
Contacting influencers is additionally a abundant way to assay your abstraction — the bigger they acknowledge to your pitch, the added affairs there are of it action viral. So, don’t be abashed to ask influencers what they anticipate about your idea, no punches pulled — TikTok influencers will accept abundant added acquaintance with the platform, so you should absolutely accept to what they accept to say.
Now, that is arguably the best important footfall in the accomplished process. We’ve apparent endless artists and songs get viral on TikTok with no real, allusive appulse on the artist’s career. The affairs are, you don’t appetite for the artisan to be remembered as “that guy who wrote that TikTok song”.
So, anticipate about how you will catechumen the TikTok admirers to your added platforms, whether it’s Spotify or Instagram, and how you will accomplish them stay. At the end of the day, viral business is a apparatus that is absolute for architecture awareness, but it’s not fit for architecture a loyal fan base. Ideally, your TikTok attack should be a allotment of the overarching agreeable plan that will accept a abiding appulse on the artist’s career.
Perhaps the best important apparatus at your auctioning actuality is the official song folio absorbed to every song clearly broadcast to TikTok. The song’s page, as categorical beneath includes the articulation to Apple Music, bidding users to admission the abounding song — but alike added chiefly it links to the artist’s official TikTok annual if they accept one. So, it ability be a acceptable abstraction to accomplish abiding that the artisan has an up and running, absolute TikTok annual to use as a about-face point amid TikTok and added artist’s platforms.
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This aftermost footfall is appealing accessible — if you got all the i’s dotted and all the t’s crossed, it’s time to bang off the claiming and see area this viral adventure will booty you. Best case book your claiming is a hit, and millions of bodies are now agreeable with your music on a circadian basis. But beware — the TikTok’s viral attributes additionally agency that the trends appear and go, and so the window of befalling for converting all that acquaintance into commodity allusive and abiding will be appealing short.
We at Soundcharts are big believers in the ability of music data. Actionable, real-time insights are a acute apparatus for any music able out there — and platform-specific abstracts is artlessly basal aback alive with a specific platform. So, if you plan to appoint with TikTok and accomplish it a allotment of your business strategy, we anticipate that you should assay out the TikTok Analytics solutions that can admonition you on that adventure — whether it agency attractive for the appropriate influencers to abutment your challenge, or hunting for the latest TikTok viral breakout.
Below, we’ve accumulated a abridged annual of third-party abstracts solutions and assets that we anticipate can prove badly advantageous to artists and music professionals alike:
While not a abstracts band-aid per se, TikTok Ads is both a abundant “learning” resource, a abode area you appoint with TikTok’s affectation arrangement and an official belvedere abutting brands and TikTok creators/influencers
Analisa is a belvedere for marketers, agencies, influencers, and media publishers, acceptance them to appraise any accessible contour or hashtag on TikTok. Assay actual data, addict demographics, authenticity, and agreeable assurance metrics to distinct out top-performing, accordant influencers, and more.
Cloutmeter keeps clue of added than 87k TikTok profiles to assay assurance rates, video statistics, and more, all with a distinct ambition — to admonition you accept your advance on the belvedere and brainwash your business strategy.
Exolyt helps influencers, agreeable creators, and marketers by accouterment accoutrement to annual how abundant money TikTok influencers make, as able-bodied as insights on assurance and advance metrics, with analytics action as abysmal as a distinct video level.
TikAnalytics allows users to locate and assay the better annual by the country of origin, following, and assurance rates. With over 95K accounts tracked, and accoutrement brash for assay of TikTok trends and hashtags TikAnalytics is a abundant apparatus for anyone attractive to body a afterward on the platform.
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