Everything you think you know about music promotion on TikTok is probably wrong.
Like most people, the mainstream narrative has likely convinced you that all 800 million TikTok users are teenage girls copying Charlie D’Amelio’s latest moves, however the reality is starkly different.
Let’s shed some light on what’s really happening and how to set yourself up for success.
1) Contrary to popular belief, most TikTokers don’t dance
Based on my experience studying TikTok, evaluating over 3,500 Playlist Push creators, and reviewing over 900+ campaigns that have run through our platform, I estimate less than 5% of creators dance regularly in their videos.
This means that when you push a dance trend, you're cutting down the pool of potential creators by over 95%. Dancers are a niche, not a mass audience on TikTok. Furthermore, dancers tend to be extremely selective with their music choices.
Even if you get a few bigger TikTokers to dance to your song, the chance of millions copying the dance is quite low.
This is the first piece that most artists & managers overlook.
2) Most creators won’t try your dance because it could hurt their channel’s performance
For creators, making videos that generate high view counts is what grows their channel and is of the highest importance to them. This is especially true if TikTok is their main source of income.
Creators tend to generate high engagement by uploading videos that feel organic to their channel and are similar to ones that performed well for them in the past.
Making a video that isn’t natural, is a significant risk. Getting low views on a video could jeopardize the long-term health of the creator’s channel. Even if you're paying them, the dollar amount probably isn’t worth having a video that “flops'' on their channel. This could lose their captive audience and cause the TikTok algorithm to devalue their account.
For most TikTokers, trying your dance simply isn’t worth it.
The good news is, if you embrace the following principles for winning concepts, you’ll see how there are so many other ways to be successful.
3) Winning TikTok concepts are easy for creators to execute
Creators should be able to do your concept within minutes, not hours. It shouldn’t require a great deal of planning or strenuous effort.
We find that artists & managers often underestimate how big of an ask their concept really is. Creators are people with lives and other opportunities often thrown their way. You want to make your concept feel fresh and simple, but also convenient.
As a general rule, the easier your concept, the more people will get involved.
Concept types that are difficult to get most people to do:
- Learning a dance or creating a dance
- Changing clothes or putting on makeup
- Acting out a specific skit
- Requiring multiple people to be involved
- Driving to a specific location
- ...the list goes on
Sure, you might be able to get some people to do one of these concepts, but they’re going to have a low success rate when it comes to widespread reach. You want ideas that are easy to get big TikTok influencers onboard AND the masses that follow them.
4) Winning concepts also allow TikTokers the creative freedom to make the videos feel natural to them
We already outlined in #2 the risks of trying to make videos that aren’t a proven fit for your channel. If your concept feels unnatural or too creatively constricting, most people won’t do it.
However, on the flip side, there is an enormous upside that comes with learning how to give creators freedom within your concept.
This is one of the secrets to a great concept: strive for consistency and a creative through-line, while allowing the creators the room to make it their own.
KEEP IN MIND: VIDEOS THAT ARE ORGANIC TO THE CREATOR’S CHANNEL WILL GET THE MOST VIEWS
5) Here’s how to refine your initial idea into a winning concept
Let’s take a look at a couple examples of what a challenging/problematic concept looks like, and how you can tweak your idea to generate far greater results.
Example 1 - “What I learned in 2020”
Concept Before Tweaking:
Hard to execute & little creative freedom (don’t do this)
"Make a montage of 10 things you learned from 2020 using the green screen effect with a montage of images from throughout the year."
Concept After Tweaking:
Easy to execute & leaves room for creativity (do this):
"Share one thing you learned from 2020. Using the green screen effect or making a montage of images from throughout the year is optional."
The difference: The first version asks for the 10 things they learned - (coming up with that list could be difficult) and it requires them to make a montage using the green-screen effect. The revised version asks for just one thing and makes the additional pieces optional.
Example 2 - “Halloween Costume Change”
Concept Before Tweaking
Hard to execute & little creative freedom (don’t do this):
"Do a transition where you change from your regular clothes into a scary halloween costume right before the drop in the song. sample video"
Concept After Tweaking
Easy to execute & leaves room for creativity (do this):
"Do a transition right before the drop in the song, it should match the vibe/theme of the song (lighting up the darkness). Outfit change optional. sample video"
The difference: The "before" version requires someone to do a specific outfit change that is inconvenient and takes a lot of work. The revised version doesn’t require an outfit change and gives them room to make a video that feels organic.
When writing a concept, ask yourself this one question, “What would this concept look like if it were easy?” Easy to explain and easy to make.
Put yourself in the shoes of the creator and keep refining your concept until it feels easy and fun. Making some of the specifics optional and including sample videos are great ways to give the creator specific ideas of how to execute your concept without making them required.
6) A Few More Tips for TikTok Success
These are some of the basics that you can’t afford to ignore.
Nail your sound clip: The foundation of a successful TikTok campaign is editing your sound clip to the perfect piece of the song. The TikTok sound must start at the exact point of the song that you want creators to start their videos. Bonus points if the lyrics you feature are in your Spotify title. More Details
Be clear and concise when writing concepts: creators are not mind readers, don’t be vague or assume your idea is obvious. Keep it short & straightforward. More Details
Include a sample video (if possible): this is one of the best ways to explain a concept but make sure to leave room for creative liberties in your written explanation.
Embrace the randomness of TikTok: The most successful artists embrace the random & unexpected nature of TikTok. Go to the sound link for any viral hit on TikTok and scroll through the videos, it's a mess of all sorts of content types - this is normal.
Don’t overthink it: Just give the creators a chance to have fun and make the song come alive. Simple ideas win (i.e. “Rock out to this song while doing something you enjoy”)
7) How Playlist Push TikTok campaigns can help
If you're interested in promoting your music on TikTok, Playlist Push campaigns are the easiest and fastest way to get top creators to make videos with your song.
We've now run over 900+ campaigns, generating over 1.5 billion TikTok views for independent artists.
Setting up a campaign takes just a few minutes: simply apply, select your budget, input your concept, and schedule the campaign.
You’ll typically see videos made within the first 72 hours. You’ll get the chance to review videos and will be able to view all of your stats on your results dashboard (example below from our Tom Dupree III Case Study).
Recap & Summary:
- Dance concepts have a low success rate because most TikTokers don’t dance, dances are hard to execute, and they’re unnatural for most channels.
- Winning concepts are easy to execute and easy to adapt to the creator’s channel. This is how you get the most videos and views.
- You can easily tweak your concept idea to be more successful by putting yourself in the shoes of the creators and asking “What would this look like if it were easy”?
- Don’t neglect the basics - nailing your sound clip, writing clearly, and including a sample video.
- Playlist Push campaigns provide the easiest and fastest way to promote your music on TikTok.
Disclaimer: I am not 100% against pushing dance trends on TikTok or using more complex concepts. They have their place and can obviously be extremely successful. However, in most cases, they’re not your most reliable option and tend to have a low success rate.