How musicians use TikTok to grow their fanbase

Music marketing Social Media
13 min read
In this Article

Would Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” have become the number one most streamed song of 2021 if it hadn’t been for TikTok?

“Drivers License” took over TikTok for months after its release, sparking a trend from musicians to write new lyrics and make TikToks based on different perspectives like:

TikTok loved it.

Using TikTok, musicians can share their songs with their fanbase, grow their other digital platforms (like other social profiles and email list), and sell concert tickets and merch. And that’s just the beginning.

TikTok has proven to be a great platform to grow your fanbase and share your songs.

And most importantly, it’s not too late to start. Even if you’re not exactly sure what TikTok is.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a video app that allows users to record and edit vertical videos and share them with their followers. Creators can add audio tracks, filters, record against a green screen, along with many other exciting features. A TikTok is between 15 seconds and 3-minutes in length, making it the ideal length to share either a snippet or preview of your new song or the whole track.

@taiverdes

A heater.

♬ Sheesh! – Surfaces & Tai Verdes

TikTok’s creative features allow musicians to express themselves (and their songs) through this new type of content. Without needing to learn editing software, musicians can promote their latest song, tell their audience what inspired them to write their album, or collaborate with other musicians in a fun and creative way.

TikTok users are spending an average of 858 minutes on the app per month—that’s 29 minutes per day. Since most TikToks are bite-sized pieces of content (in comparison to a 10+ minute YouTube video), they allow audiences to watch a lot of a musician's content in a short amount of time. In 29 minutes, your fans could watch a dozen, or even more, of your videos.

With over 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok’s user base covers people interested in rock bands to solo musicians playing their acoustic guitar and it’s making musicians think, “Do I need to be on TikTok?”

Why musicians need to be using TikTok

You don’t need to dream of becoming the next Ariana Grande to use TikTok to grow your fanbase. Thanks to its algorithm, TikTok is great at finding people interested in your style of music and showing them your videos. Compared to the other social platforms available, TikTok is an exciting tool to help grow your audience and fanbase.

And that’s why so many musicians share their songs and talent on the platform.

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3 TikTok best practices

TikTok allows for a lot of creative freedom, but there are still a few best practices to make sure your audience can hear your talent, relate to you, and discover you on the platform

#1: Showcase your talent!

This is your reminder Justin Bieber was discovered on YouTube and Shawn Mendes was discovered through Vine. These megastars used social media to showcase their vocal skills by sharing covers and managed to pick up traction from an online audience before meeting with record labels.

Having “musician” in your bio isn’t enough to showcase your talent. Show people your music with short snippets or entire songs. This is what Emmy Meli did with her song “I AM WOMAN.” She recorded herself singing her song and published it on TikTok. She’s accumulated 5.3 million likes and 31.8 million views (she has 607,000 followers).

@emmymelimusic

“I AM WOMAN” I write the best sh!t when I ain’t trying hahaha #fyp #singer #iamwoman #original #myfinALLYmoment

♬ I AM WOMAN – EMMY MELÍ

#2: Use trending sounds

Jumping on trends and using trending sounds can dramatically boost your video views. On TikTok, sounds are the audio you add to your videos when you choose not to use your own. A sound goes over your video content and can be dialogue from a movie, a verse of a song, or audio from another TikTok. You can use trending sounds to talk about your experience as a musician, explain why you wrote a song, or find another way to make your audience laugh, relate to you, or get to know you better. To find a trending sound, scroll through TikTok and notice how users are adding sounds to their videos and which sounds you keep seeing over and over. Tah-dah, you’ve uncovered a trending sound!

Drew Ryn creates TikToks with trending sounds to talk about herself as a musician while poking fun at people’s experiences with singers. To be clear, trending sounds aren’t the entirety of her TikTok. Her other videos showcase her singing or how she came up with the cover art for her album. Drew Ryn’s already creating the different types of TikTok content we’ll outline in the last section.

@drewryn

did I lose my balance at the end? yes. Am I still recovering? Also yes.

♬ original sound – drewofficial

#3: Collaborate with other creators

On TikTok, you can collaborate with other musicians and creators to grow your fanbase. The more people exposed to your music, the greater chance of growing your fanbase. Through collaborations, you’ll share audiences with other musicians and creators—and you don’t have to wait until you hit 1 million followers to get started. Reach out to your favorite musicians and creators on TikTok with ideas of videos you could make together.

This is what singer and piano player Jax regularly does. Jax collaborates with musicians, influencers, dancers, doctors, and actors to share her audience and bring their audience to her TikTok profile. Her collaboration TikToks are usually original verses she writes based on the person she’s collaborating with that either poke at trends or highlight parts of that person’s career. Collaborations are a win-win for both parties, so don’t feel hesitant to reach out and start asking for them! The best way to reach out is with an idea of the TikTok you can make together and an open mind to their suggestions.

@jaxwritessongs

Pocket Full of SunshineFrom Natasha Bedingfield’s Irresponsible Roommate’s Perspective 😳☀️ ft. actual @natashabedingfield #xyzbca #foryou #pov

♬ original sound – Jax

3 ways musicians can use TikTok to grow their fanbase

Followers on TikTok are great, but it’s not a promise you’ll always have access to them. That’s why musicians need to share their other social media profiles with their TikTok audience, turn them into email subscribers, and sell concert tickets.

#1: Show followers your other social media accounts

TikTok is great today, but we can’t predict where it will be in 5 years. Diversifying your social media following is always (emphasis on the always!) a good idea. Spread out your fanbase by turning TikTok followers into Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube subscribers.

By spreading your audience across multiple platforms, you also create another place for them to connect with you and learn more about who you are as a musician—which is a great way to nurture the relationship you have with your fans.

To promote several links at once (like your other social media platforms, email list, concert tickets, merch, and more), use ConvertKit Link pages. With Link pages, you can have one link that shows your fans everything they need to know about what you have going on. It also helps you avoid switching out your profile link every time you promote something in your TikToks.

With a Link page, you can promote your email newsletter in the morning and following you on Instagram later that day without worrying about updating the link.

musicians tiktok
Use Link pages to show your audience where they can find you on other social media platforms.

#2: Turn followers into email subscribers

As your TikTok following grows, you want to diversify your audience to your other social media platforms and email list. Think of all social media platforms as rented (including TikTok!). You don’t own your profile or your audience. It might feel like you do, but if Instagram goes down one day or they change their algorithm and make it harder to access your following, you’ll quickly see how out of control you are.

That’s never a place you want to be as a musician. Your fanbase shouldn’t disappear overnight, and there’s a way to make sure that never happens—through an email list. An email list is like your fanbase’s digital headquarters. It’s the safest place to house your connections with your followers, so you can continue to reach them in the future.

Starting an email list isn’t just for pro marketers. Anyone can do it using simple email platforms like ConvertKit that give you ready-to-go landing page and form templates. All you need to do is choose the template you like and add your personalized message to get started.

musicians tiktok
Musicians use ConvertKit to grow their email list, launch their albums, and sell concert tickets.

#3: Turn followers into concert attendees

Don’t forget that the people who follow you online love your music. They’re the ones who would turn up to see you perform at their favorite venue, and they might even drive a few hours out of town just to experience your songs offline. To turn your followers into concert attendees, talk about your upcoming shows, use trending sounds to promote them, and record videos of yourself talking about when and where your shows to see you live.

You can also tell your followers what songs you’ll play and what they can expect from the performance. Social media is a two-way street, so you also have the option of asking your followers what songs they want you to play or if there’s something special they’d want you to do during the show (like a Q&A).

ConvertKit Commerce is set up for musicians like you. You can sell concert tickets through simple landing pages; here’s all you need to do:

  1. Set up your concert tickets as a product in ConvertKit Commerce
  2. Choose a landing page template and add the information about your concert
  3. Tell your TikTok followers to click the link in your bio to buy their tickets
musicians tiktok
Sell concert tickets (or other band-related products) through ConvertKit Commerce.

Types of content to create and share

Writing a song or practicing with your band is one form of creation, but Tiktok is an entirely different beast. You’re excited to get on the platform! But, it’s normal to be unsure where to start.

Here are some quick ideas for TikTok videos you can make:

#1: Behind-the-scenes of writing and recording your songs

How many hours do you spend strumming your guitar or playing on the piano before a few notes become an entire song? That process is interesting to your followers, who love your music and feel like they get to be a fly on the wall as you show them the behind-the-scenes of creating it.

#2: The stories that inspired your songs

People that like your songs and listen to them a few times a month are one thing. A fandom that knows why you wrote the song and feels a direct connection because of it is another. To increase that fandom, use TikToks (and even sounds!) to talk about the inspiration behind your songs.

#3: How you met your bandmates

This is another great opportunity to use a trending sound and turn it into a story about how your band met and came together. Remember, your audience loves your songs. But, they also love stories they can relate to, aspire for, and use to inspire their creative endeavors.

#4: How you learned to create music

Help your followers get to know you better by explaining how you got started in music. Was it because your mom taught you how to play guitar when you were younger? Or did you look up to a musician and knew you had to aspire for the same life? Your story is inspiring and interesting to your fandom, who’s curious about how you became the musician you are today.

#5: Promote your new music

When in doubt, show your music! Play your piano, strum your guitar, sing your songs. Show your audience snippets of your songs or the entirety of them (as long as they’re under 3 minutes). This is the best way to get your audience excited about your music—by showing up with your beautiful melodies right on their TikTok feed.

Regardless of what content you create for TikTok, remember to always give fans a call to action. Let your fans know that if they tap the link in your bio, they can sign up for your fan club or newsletter, download a free song, get your latest album, or get updates on your next tour. You can even sell your merch, concert tickets, and music through this link.

Create a ConvertKit landing page in less than 10 minutes (seriously) that’s customizable to fit your brand and can help you build a relationship with your fans.

musicians tiktok
Create easy-to-make landing pages to promote your new music with ConvertKit.

Your fanbase wants to hear from you

Whether it’s through a trending TikTok sound, a YouTube video of your latest concert, or your weekly newsletter updating them on what’s happening in your world—your fanbase is happy to connect with you more.

Growing your fanbase on TikTok can lead to incredible opportunities (like Jax’s deal with Atlantic Records!).

Every musician has their own goal of what it means to live out their dreams, from record deals or playing at their favorite brewery every Friday night. But, growing a dedicated fanbase that comes to your concerts and can’t stop clapping once you finish your set involves the same plan.

Grow your fanbase using social media and turn those followers into email subscribers. As email subscribers, your following is safe from algorithm changes that could make it difficult to reach your audience.

Musicians like Throw the Fight’s Ryan Baustert use ConvertKit, to turn followers into subscribers and to keep their most dedicated fans up-to-date on merch launches, upcoming concerts, and new song releases. To date, Throw the Fight has sold 40,000 albums, has 265,000 monthly Spotify listeners, and 23,000 YouTube subscribers.

Here’s how Ryan uses email marketing to keep in touch with his audience and keep selling out Throw the Fight’s shows.

Take the next step on your creator journey

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Eva Gutierrez

Eva Gutierrez is a freelance content writer specializing in writing for companies with marketing-related products, like education platforms and SaaS. She writes articles and newsletters that build and nurture relationships with her clients' leads while showcasing their expertise and leadership in their industry. You can find her tweeting about writing tips, marketing strategies, and the psychology behind buying at @TheEvaGutierrez.

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