- Band Management
- Home Recording
- Live Sound
- Best Instruments
- New Music
In a previous article we went through some strategies and tips on how to blow up your music on TikTok. Well, if you have music to promote, I am assuming you are a music maker, so here are some tips on how to help your career when you are in between releases or aren’t in an active band.
First, let’s start with some ground rules and myths. You do not need to have a fancy camera setup to do this. In fact, that can work against you. Using your phone with good solid lighting (whether a ring light or natural window light) will get you far. Obviously, use some sort of good audio, use headphones and mic if you have it or at least check that your audio signal is good. Nothing will ruin your music career quicker than bad audio.
Second, I will reiterate my point from the previous article that TikTok is about entertainment, value, and authenticity. For some, that can be thirst traps, for others it’s fun dances, for others it’s about learning. If you are a songwriter, talk about songwriting. If you are a music theory nerd, do that. You don’t have to have a fancy DAW and keyboard setup either — if you are a guitarist, just find some good lighting and jam, show off.▼ Article continues below ▼
Third, make sure you have a website or a music landing page (ToneDen or Hyppeddit are free) in your bio as soon as you can. Never lose a fan who becomes interested in you.
#musicproducer #indiemusic #musician #songwriter #fyp – this is your tribe. Follow others and comment on their stuff – this is super important. As you do, you’ll see the hashtag they use specific to the kind of musician you are. Whether you produce (using DAWs or in a studio), or are a player, or a shredder.
Making the track: Take people behind the scenes of how you write and record. Show your DAW, show the tracks. Find a problem area and ask for help. “I am having trouble with this vocal mix, any ideas on how to make it sound brighter or pop?” You’ll be amazed how many want to help you.
Plugins: Show what plugins you are using and how to adjust them. Do a super quick edit showing the interface and the settings (this gets people to watch multiple times to try and steal your settings), and then say, “hope this helps, follow me for more tips.”
Gear: Musicians love gear. If you have cool guitars, or an awesome setup, or a homemade pedal board, show it off.
Challenge: “I am going to play x song progressively faster every day, follow along” or “90s boy band but it’s Metal” – you get the idea. Ask your followers to do the same.
Jam Session: This works for anyone, drummers especially. Pick an intro or a favorite part of a song (maybe a solo or a riff), you really only have :15 or :60 sec, (tbh you only have 10-15 sec to get and keep attention). Again, use “Add Sound” from within TikTok when you are editing your video, do not upload it recorded in your room. Remember you will be using headphones.
Duet: Best tip for last. As you navigate TikTok, you will see people doing music and asking you to Stitch or Duet. Stitch is when you use another video and it is edited either in the beginning or ending of your own, sort of call-and-response. Duet is where the screen is split and you are playing with someone (or many someones). When you do this, please use headphones or the audio from your instrument or voice will feedback and it leads to bad quality audio. You can find Sea Shanties, young people singing an a cappella, drummers playing intros and so forth, jump in and Duet with them as you play along. Add harmonies, add your own instrumentation, rap along to a singer. Obviously, Duet everything John Mayer does. But don’t just stick to the famous ones, it’s often the organic ones that take off better.
Lastly, don’t lose hope. Like any platform, TikTok takes some work. You might go viral; you might sit on 200-300 followers for months. Keep going and have fun. You’ll meet other cool musicians, you’ll make some new fans, and you’ll get to do music. What’s not to love?
–Michael St. James is the founder and creative director of St. James Media, specializing in music licensing, publishing, production and artist development.
Photo by Solen Feyissa, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.