Building a music career isn’t exactly a stroll in the park.
As such, staying abreast of the latest trends and finding opportunities to exploit is key to building a following – and, hopefully – making more money from music.
Many musicians, young and old, are now looking to TikTok to fulfill on these requirements.
So, how does one go about making viral TikTok videos to build their music careers?
What is TikTok?
TikTok is essentially the latest trending short-form, video-based, meme-generating social media platform that replaced the once popular Vine.
Many of the videos feature cute pets and attractive people dancing to top 40 music (or some combination thereof). Others feature memes, thrilling rollercoaster rides, amazing human feats (not “feets”) and more.
@jun.amaki既読がつかなくて/t-Ace MVに出演させて頂いたのでTikTokでも🧡🧡🧡 ##tace ##踊ってみた ##dance♬ オリジナル楽曲 – t-Ace #teamクズ
But there’s no question users are getting creative with it, enticing all manner of responses from viewers – shock, surprise, laughter and more.
Should I Even be on TikTok?
I think this is a valuable question to ask.
Personally, I can think of far more important things to do with my time (making music, marketing my music, merchandising, etc.).
But I still hold to the notion that 20% of your time should be invested in experimentation. After all, you never know what might come of your experiments. This is where some artists find unprecedented success.20% of your time should be invested in experimentation. After all, you never know what might come out of your experiments. This is where some artists find unprecedented success. Click To Tweet
Again, I can think of better things to do with that 20% time (e.g. writing music in a style I’ve never written before, starting a side project, finding other creative expressions, etc.). But here’s no reason you couldn’t dedicate it to TikTok.
How do I Make a Viral TikTok Video?
At the outset, I must point out that there is no definitive formula for creating any kind of viral content, let alone on TikTok.
Carl Douglas didn’t think “Kung Fu Fighting” was going to be a hit and the song was put together rather hastily, at the last minute, in the studio. So, success sometimes comes from unexpected places, and that’s an important lesson all its own.
With that in mind, here are some tips that will help you make the most of TikTok.
Use a Good Camera
If you’ve got the latest smartphone in your pocket, there’s a good chance you’ve got everything you need already.
But just in case, since you are going to be creating video content, you should know it’s a good idea to work with a quality camera.
Use Good Lighting
Even the best content can sometimes be ruined by bad lighting, simply because viewers can’t make out what’s supposed to be happening in the video.
Your filming environment should be well-lit (but not overexposed) for best results.
Sync Your Sound
Sound plays an important role in how people experience your content, and to that extent, experienced sound designers are likely to have a bit of an advantage here.
Either way, at minimum, ensure the sound syncs up with your video.
Anyone making video content knows how important editing is.
Although I won’t be offering any specific tips here, in general, it would be best for you to study how professional commercials, TV shows and movies are edited.
Not surprisingly, right now, a lot of creators are incorporating the coronavirus into their content.
Keeping up with the trends might just help you create content that more people will resonate with.
If all else fails, film your cat. We all know how well cats have done for themselves on the internet.
Use Relevant Hashtags
If you’re used to Twitter and Instagram, you should be able to figure this out relatively quickly.
Keep an eye on popular hashtags, and if they are relevant to the content you’re creating, use them to boost views.
Content creation needs to be taken seriously. But that seriousness shouldn’t carry into your content. If you aren’t having fun in your videos, you shouldn’t expect your viewers to have any fun either.
Social media is about connecting and engaging with people. So, make it fun for everyone involved.
Brainstorm & Experiment with a Variety of Ideas
If you’re going to be posting fresh content once or twice per day (recommended), then you’d better start generating plenty of ideas. I’d suggest writing them down somewhere you can easily find them.
Then, experiment plenty. You just never know what idea might end up resonating, even if you think it’s “stupid.”
The 3 Pillars of Success with Social Media
I hold to the notion that there are only three pillars to social media success. They can be applied to any platform. They are simple but not easy. Violate these rules at your own peril.
Let’s look at what these three pillars are and how to apply them to your TikTok efforts.
Pillar #1: Publish Platform-Centric Content
You can always take your TikTok videos and share them elsewhere (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and so on – I’ll talk more about this in a moment).
But first and foremost, if you want to do well on TikTok, you must create the type of content that works well on TikTok (short videos that make people stand up and take notice).
This is easy to do, easy not to do. In other words, if you get lazy and just take unremarkable clips from your YouTube videos and republish them to TikTok, you’re less likely to do well on the platform.
Pillar #2: Publish Remarkable Content
If your content doesn’t warrant a response from viewers, it’s not going to do much for you.
This doesn’t mean you’re going to hit the content nail on the head every single time. Making good content takes work. So, you can’t just fly by the seat of your pants and expect to succeed.
Try to come up with content that leaves people feeling something. Draw out an emotional response. If you can do that, you will get viewers hooked on your content.
Pillar #3: Publish Consistently
Each piece of content may require quite a bit of brainstorming, planning, filming and even editing. Is that something you can commit to?
A lot of people publish one thing (or a few things) and hope it takes the world by storm. Generally, that’s not a winning formula. You need a larger archive of content along with new content to harvest attention and keep it.
Determine exactly how many times you’re going to be publishing daily or weekly and when.
Once you’ve built a bit of a following, you can post a little more sporadically, but until then, stick to the plan (no matter how tedious it gets).
Bonus Pillar: Distribute, Syndicate & Promote Your Content
You’re a musician. So, hopefully you understand how important it is to promote your works.
With releasing new music, for example, you can’t just distribute the release and hope everyone streams it. Unless you’re well-known, it just doesn’t work that way. You must promote your work.
It’s the same with social media content. You can’t just post it and hope everyone sees it. You must distribute, syndicate and promote the content you’ve worked so hard to create.
What’s the Benefit of Becoming Popular on TikTok?
I don’t know. You tell me.
I have often said that social media numbers are irrelevant unless you’re trying to achieve a specific end. I have always felt that website traffic, email signups and ultimately sales are far more important metrics.
But let’s talk about those “specific ends”.
For musicians, that might mean getting booked for a festival (they might be more inclined to book a band that can bring a crowd).
For bloggers and authors, getting a publishing deal (most publishers want their authors to be able to pre-sell tens of thousands of copies of their book).
By the way, not to be overly indulgent here, but it does help when you follow me on social media. I’m confident I’ve added some value to you today, so please take a moment to follow and engage with me on these platforms:
For speakers, getting podcast interviews and maybe even speaking engagements (some podcasters hold to the notion that the bigger the following you have, the more your message is honed).
There are good reasons to grow a following. But a following should never be confused with success in every area.There are good reasons to grow a social media following. But a following should never be confused with success in every area. Click To Tweet
A big following doesn’t mean you’re making lots of money.
A big following doesn’t mean you’ve got it where it counts (website traffic, email list, sales).
A big following doesn’t mean you’re popular or famous.
And, a big following certainly doesn’t mean you’ve got something better to say than others.
So, be realistic here. Be clear about what you’re trying to achieve. Otherwise, you’re pointing in the wrong direction and need to course correct as soon as possible.
Final Thoughts on Viral TikTok Videos
Wouldn’t it be great to go viral? We all think about it from time to time and imagine what it would be like.
But I believe social media consultant Lori Taylor said it best when she said:
Going viral is not an outcome; it’s a happening. Sometimes it happens; sometimes it doesn’t. Just remember, fans are vanity and sales are sanity.
I could not have said it any better than that!
Just so we’re clear, I’m not anti-social media. I’m just anti-distraction and anti-unintentionality.
When adopting a new tactic, a high degree of intentionality must be employed. And, when it comes to a low-level opportunity like social media, you’d better have absolute clarity around what you’re doing and how much effort it’s going to take.
But if you’ve chosen TikTok to help you grow your following, great. Apply your best thinking to the platform or you’re unlikely to achieve much.
Is there anything else I should have addressed?
Do you have any unanswered questions regarding TikTok?
Let me know in the comments below.