How to promote music on TikTok

How to promote music on TikTok

TikTok, a social media giant which by now is known by virtually any musician or record label in the world, is still a mystery for most of the music industry experts. It grows in such proportions and speed, and especially in a target group so young, that music marketeers can hardly get their heads around it. Artists want to find out how to make money on TikTok Music.

Filled with mysteries, unknown opportunities and features, the app is a huge potential market for the music industry.

This blog tells you all about TikTok in terms of figures and marketing opportunities.

How it started

Back in 2018, a Chinese company called Bytedance bought the lip-syncing app and rebranded it as TikTok. The app, focussed on short-form video content, was not only easy to use but could be consumed instantly. As opposed to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, TikTok immediately ‘starts’ when you create an account. On ‘older’ social media platforms you first need connections or followers (or following) before the magic happens. TikTok automatically serves you content without having to perform many actions. Instantly consumable. It also lets a TikTok user add sound effects to a TikTok video.

This ‘instant action’ was one of the pillars of success for TikTok.

TikTok Music

Bytedance also launched TikTok Music, a music streaming platform that offers new ways to listen to music. TikTok has license deals in place with record labels and has created a commercial music library. Kwettr delivers music to TikTok Music, alongside Apple Music and YouTube music.

Some figures:

  • 2 billion TikTok app downloads (April 2020)
  • 41% of all users are between 16 and 24
  • Q1 2020: 315 million app downloads, most app downloads ever in any quarter
  • Chinese counterpart is called Douyin and operates only in China
  • 800 million monthly active users according to Oberlo
  • 1 billion new posts every day
  • Bytedance is worth more than Spotify, Tencent Music, Vivendi and SiriusXM combined (Bloomberg, 2020)

Bytedance is also the owner of Toutiao and music streaming service Resso.

TikTok Lite

Countries that do not have solid internet connections or very expensive mobile data get the Lite app. Countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Russia and Brazil have seen explosive user growth thanks to Lite.

In just 3 years time, TikTok reached the same amount of monthly active users in those countries as Instagram did in 6 years.

Competitors of TikTok

The biggest competitors are Triller, Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts. Facebook pulled the plug on Facebook Lasso.

TikTok vs Instagram Reels vs YouTube short videos

What is it?

An app, used to create 15 (or 60) seconds of video content. TikTok is about authenticity, self-expression and creativity. As TikTok says: “TikTok is a place where everyone can embrace their flaws and escape from being their perfect self”.

This is an important difference compared to Instagram.

Whereas content on Instagram is mostly focused on perfection, beauty and painting the perfect picture, on TikTok users show their vulnerable side. Imperfection, videos gone wrong, self-criticism and authentic videos define TikTok.

Popular content


The meme culture is enormous. Accounts posting memes daily have millions of followers and huge levels of interactions.


TikTok started as, an app for lip-syncing and to date, this still plays a big role in TikTok.


A very well-known content type: dances and dance challenges. Companies like Danceon tap into that success in a clever way. Create your own choreography, share it and win the crowd.

TikTok allows users to import video content into the app, but they strongly advise creating content on TikTok itself. Native content can be made, using importing sounds, controlling speed, timer and filter. The TikTok database has music and licensing deals with major record companies and independents in place.

Artists such as Lil Nas X, Doja Cat and Taylor Swift are very popular on TikTok. The service is also often used in influencer marketing.

Top influencers and most liked video on TikTok

The For You feed 

One of the most important features of the app is the For You feed. For You serves content to users, based on a strong algorithm. Up to a certain extent, it can be compared to Spotify’s Discover Weekly. TikTok basically recommends content based on user interactions, video information and device and account settings.

User Interactions

Content based on what you post, like, show interest and content you make.

Video Information

Captions, sounds and hashtags used.

Device and account settings

Country, device, language.

New users of the app are first asked to choose categories of interest. This helps the algorithm to show the best-suited content. A very strong feature of the app.

Promotional opportunities for musicians on TikTok

Put your song on TikTok

To even start promoting music on TikTok, it, of course, has to have your music. TikTok has license deals in place with majors and several independents. To get your song delivered, contact your label or distributor or create a Kwettr account.

Featured playlist

The app has a special section called ‘Featured Playlist’ which can also feature playlists curated by artists.

Sounds page banner

The Sounds page, the section of the app where all music is offered, has a banner on top. Much like any DSP, the banners feature new releases or popular content.

Daily active usage

On average a user spends 52 minutes per day on the app. Only Facebook has a higher daily active usage, 58 minutes per day. For advertisers, this makes it an interesting platform as the more time people spend on the app, the higher the chances are of ads being seen.

Make your video personal

Short-form video content is popular, but it requires a solid approach. Make sure the 15 seconds have a good structure (opening, middle, end) to it. Videos containing people outperform videos without.

Duet option 

Artists can make videos of composing music, ask fans to write lyrics and then post a duet of both music and lyrics.

Cross-marketing of music

TikTok is only 15 seconds, but getting your TikTok song viral will spark interest in the music that has been used. Fans head over to f.e. Spotify and other streaming platforms to listen to the full track. Dances made on Tones and I – Dance Monkey and of course Lil Nas X – Old Town Road went viral on TikTok. And later on Spotify, where the revenue is made.

Promotional opportunities for musicians on TikTok
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