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So in the last video of my series on TikTok, I explained that the platform is becoming more like Instagram, where you can post updates to do more traditional music promotion just as you would on any other platform. But to be effective, there are some unique tools to TikTok and tropes that you can apply to your own music promotions. While that’s the case, there are some promotions that work better than others, and some of you are downright confused on what to post on TikTok. So in this video, I am going to show you examples of what you could be posting on TikTok to help spread your music effectively.

Hi, I’m Jesse Cannon, a music marketing nerd who is teaching musicians how to grow their fanbase from 0 to 10,000 fans, and this is Musformation. So before we get started, I want to say one thing to get you in the right headspace, and I need to impress this upon you, so listen up. If you look at TikTok and wonder why you are not getting the views, follows, or likes of 2Tone or whatever Jersey Shore cast member reject that does well on the platform, your attitude is all wrong. And here’s the simple thought that should motivate you: Right now, aside from writing a great song or making a great music video for it, there is no activity where it takes less time to create something that can introduce your music to more new people than making a TikTok. So the return on investment of your time is kinda hard to beat.

The fact is, there are thousands of examples of artists who are just putting in time telling stories and doing promotion on the platform that are having listeners crossover and stream their music on Spotify and YouTube. And when it comes to what you could be doing with your time in nearly every genre of music, getting a video up on TikTok is definitely in the top 5 things you could be doing to promote your music right now. It’s not going to necessarily stay that way as it will eventually get too flooded and become ineffective, but right now, it’s go time.

The last thing I want to impart to you before the examples is, as always, if you have under 10k fans, you should always be working on gaining one fan at a time. And that’s what’s so rad about TikTok: one video can be doing that with tens to hundreds to thousands at a time, and that’s why I am so excited about it. Okay, let’s get into some ideas of what you could be posting.

The most obvious way to grow is to encourage duets. Play riffs on camera, play a part of your song, post yourself dancing or creating a beat, and invite others to collaborate and make something with you. The duets feature allows other people to do things with the content you just made. You could even say, “duet over my new song, I can’t think of a bridge,” and audition people for a future feature, and then TikTok about the experience when the feature comes out. As well, you could do this on other people’s songs who ask for it, just like the video I have on the screen right now where they are encouraging other people to duet with them. The power of the duet is you can get creatively inspired while your creation spreads to other artists who are similar to you and get seen by their audience.

Then there’s TikTok’s feature called Stitches, which is still one of the most underexplored features of TikTok and hasn’t even shown its true potential yet for music marketing. But I think stitches are some of the biggest parts of the future of TikTok marketing. Let’s say you need an opening act for a show; you could ask people to stitch who you should have open for you. You could write, “my new song is about bad dates, what’s the worst one you’ve been on?” Show me your dog going off to our new song. Show us how our new song makes you feel. All of those things are what stitches are great for. You could then share the results with your own audience, and as I have talked about in my video on emotional marketing, this can be an easy way to make content that could show people how they could be feeling if they just put on your track and really give them the hint that they should listen to it. And if you haven’t watched that video, it’s in the description or on the screen right now.

One cool thing with the stitch feature I have been seeing is playlist curators have been asking for submissions. I saw a magazine looking for new groups to profile and asking people to stitch to them, and this is why it’s always important to do what I tell you in my video on finding community and keep a list of the people in your community and follow them everywhere, as these can be huge opportunities. And if you haven’t watched that video, it’s linked on the screen now or in the description below.

Which brings me to, for fuck’s sake, if someone makes even a mediocre TikTok involving your music, be sure to duet it and laugh or react to it or whatever. Praise them, compliment them. Here’s the band Popper Roach doing that to a pretty great satire of their hit song. I can’t remember the name of the song; it’s like something like “song to punch the roof of your Volkswagen Jetta 2 in a roid rage circa 2001.” (cut my jeans into pieces these are my homemade jorts) But truly, if you want to encourage the sharing of your song, and especially if it’s someone doing something performative that can make the song trend, even if you have a small audience, sharing that video can be the thing that gets the video enough juice that it starts to trend. And we all know if a TikTok video trends with your song, it can mean a lot of streams and a huge change in your career trajectory.

Okay, but let’s talk about what works here. Just like all other social media, humor, vulnerability, and showing your authentic observations that align with your musical personality are TikTok gold, and it helps you find an audience in line with who you actually are. I can’t stress this enough that there are so many artists who are just using TikTok tropes to express their emotions, their sense of humor, or creativity that go well with their music and are blowing up from it. That is the equation that you need to be authentic to yourself and explore how you can talk about your own stories. When you have a thought you think people don’t talk about enough or you think is unique, think of how you could turn it into a TikTok.

You could also just tell people about good things that happen to you. Here’s my friend Darrow doing just that. (Clip of Darrow saying, “So this just happened. We just got featured on Alternative Press. This is seriously one of the most exciting things that has happened to me all year. If you’re an artist and you’re just starting and you’re trying to get press features like this, keep going.”) You could also just make biographical TikToks about your story as an artist and connect with people who identify with it. Tell people what’s exciting about you and why they should be excited about your music and what makes it unique.

Remember, just like Instagram, you can use TikTok to build relationships. You can just tell people your favorite movies like this one here. Lists of things you enjoy can grow your relationship with your audience but also can get you discovered by people with similar interests who can then be encouraged to get to know you and your music because of your commonality. If you’re especially nerdy about a particular subject, I can’t recommend this enough: making a list of your 5 favorite Midwest emo songs or your 5 favorite Pokémon can do a world of good for finding you an audience and people who may feel your music.

Also, you can make videos doing musical observations. Today I posted one on an observation I made on Phoebe Bridgers’ record “Punisher,” and by the way, you can follow me on there if you want to hear me do more of my smaller thoughts on music business promotion or music in general @JessieCannon. But as I was saying, bonding with people by explaining music and sharing your thoughts on the small details you see is one of the best parts of the platform. I learn so much about music on TikTok each day because I follow people who are insightful about it, and I end up checking out their music when they are insightful because most great artists actually see things other people don’t see in music. The one on the screen right now is a guy talking about how Kanye’s records are just the stages of grief that I found super interesting. Kanye’s – we have Shock, then denial, then anger, then bargaining, depression, testing, and acceptance. First, we have 808s, which is very obvious about the shock and pain that Kanye went through after the death of his mother.

Which brings me to some of the thoughts you should be using with TikTok. This platform is like creating a breadcrumb trail. Every hashtag you post is a hashtag they may show you to people who watch that hashtag’s videos and see if people enjoy your video. When you are making observations on similar music to you, you are creating a breadcrumb trail for the artist’s fans. Here’s a good video showing how you can make that breadcrumb trail from my bud Chaz Kiss. You can hashtag all these artists and make a video where people hear your song, and hopefully, a bunch of those fans will hear you and follow for more or even stream your track.

But really, look at ideas for what to do here as how you can continually do things with artists that are similar to you or whose fanbases you would enjoy and keep making the yarn map back to you and your music. Since, let’s remember, if you are continually doing this, potential fans will get led back to you again and again and eventually recognize you and go deeper and give you a follow and listen to your music. Oh yeah, and I linked to all the creators in this video in the description below since I could feel you all wanting to go deeper.

I’m going to impart one last piece of advice for you to learn what works and what you could be posting on TikTok each day. Like I said in my last video in this series, you need to follow the hashtags of the type of music you make and your interests and regularly search them on your genre of music. This is the best place to get inspiration and learn what’s working and the language people in your community are using. And on the screen now, I can show you ways to modify the search to view them effectively and make sure you see the best videos that are happening inside your micro-genre.

Alright, if you think I missed anything or have any good ideas on what musicians can be doing, hit the comments below and tell me what I missed since I am making tons more videos about TikTok in the coming months. Also, tell me what you are enjoying on the platform, and please like and subscribe and get notified so you don’t miss any more videos in this series. If you enjoyed this video, it’s part of a series on how to promote your music on TikTok that I am making, so if you want to learn more, be sure to click the playlist on the screen right now. On this channel, we discuss how to go from 0 to 10,000 fans, and there is a playlist on the screen right now that tells you that or how to blow up on Spotif

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