How to grow a devoted fanbase on TikTok in 7 steps
Here’s a method that TikTok musicians everywhere are using to massively expand their reach.
by Jeremy Bongiorno of Studio Frequencies
By utilizing “The Hook & Lead Method” in clever ways, many artists on TikTok are absolutely killing it on all of their other platforms.
In this guide, we’ll talk about everything there is to know about TikTok music promotion.
On top of that, I’ll even show you some real-world examples of musicians who are using TikTok to spread their music around the world.
Now, this form of music promotion doesn’t just apply to big name artists either.
Artists with a modest number of followers are still able to be full-time musicians and live their dream everyday.
The best part is, this is all possible without the help of a record label.
You can do all of this independently.
How Effective Is “The Hook & Lead Method” For Promoting Your Music?
I analyzed a few artists in a 90-day period to show just how effective this method can be.
Here are some examples:
Youngr: 339% Growth In 90 Days Using Bootlegs & Real-Time Renditions Of Original Songs
Using The Hook & Lead Method, Youngr has increased his Spotify monthly listeners by 9.4% percent, while also gaining over 383,300 followers on TikTok alone.
That’s a 339% increase over a 90 day period!
Now check out his YouTube subs and Spotify followers.
Stephen Stanley is another successful TikTok musician utilizing this method.
He has been on TikTok for far longer than Youngr, therefore his reach is pretty substantial.
Although his TikTok follwers have stayed largely the same in the past year or so, he still has managed to increase his Spotify monthly listeners by 32.5% (at its peak in late February 2022).
Stephen Stanley: Utilizing Captivating Song Cover Videos For Excellent Audience Retention
He has amassed a whopping 800k followers on TikTok since joining the platform in 2020, which is impressive in itself.
The thing to pay attention to with Stephen Stanley’s numbers is his audience retention.
As you can see, he hasn’t dropped below 800k followers in a few months, and he continues to gain followers on a daily basis.
Where Stephen Stanley’s growth has really shown is with his YouTube channel.
Check out the correlation between his YouTube subs and Spotify followers:
This can be attributed to the fact that Stephen Stanley has doubled-down on publishing more lyric videos and music videos of his original tracks on his channel.
John Roseboro: From Mortician To Full-Time Musician Thanks To Consistent Authenticity
Like I said before, you don’t have to get to the level of those two artists to make a living off your music.
Take former mortician turned full-time musician John Roseboro as an example.
He has over 73k followers on TikTok and over 53k monthly listeners on Spotify.
No, those numbers aren’t as astonishing as Youngr’s or Stephen Stanley’s.
That said, if you check out John’s Bandcamp you’ll see that he’s regularly booking gigs, and he just released his debut album.
John has amassed a strong and loyal following.
The only direction he can go is up from here.
John Michael Howell: A Unique & Eclectic Series Of TikTok Videos Makes For Steady Growth
Here is another example of a TikTok musician that has gained quite a respectable following since joining the platform in 2019.
He has varying themes to the videos he posts, but the common archetype is fan engagement.
Outside of that, he posts a lot of bite-sized samples of his original music as well as content that’s more personal and relatable.
All of this boils down to a common element of authenticity, which is ultimately the key to this entire method.
Either way, he has amassed over 235k followers on TikTok and gets around 60k monthly listeners on Spotify.
With that, his social presence has been strong enough to allow him to record and release new tracks on a regular basis.
SEIDS: Uses Music Production Tutorials To Grow Her Following On Both TikTok & YouTube
For a different approach, let’s use Sabrina Seidman (aka SEIDS) as an example.
She has over 131k followers on TikTok, and a healthy following on other social media platforms as well.
She utilizes bite-sized music production tutorials on TikTok to lead people to her YouTube channel as well as her Spotify (~10k monthly listeners) for her original music.
In fact, there are a number of artists that utilize this exact strategy.
Whether it be sound design, mixing, or even songwriting, there are a number of different ways you can showcase your expertise.
Shoot, you could even go as far as showing off your own home studio setup and provide product reviews of your favorites pieces of studio equipment.
The best part?
You can share your help out fellow musicians by sharing your knowledge and grow your fanbase simultaneously.
Not too shabby.
What Is The Hook & Lead Method?
It’s no secret that TikTok has made some huge waves in the music industry since its inception.
As of Q1 2022, TikTok has amassed over 1 billion users, with 84.9 million users in the U.S. alone.
A recent study shows that 75% of U.S. TikTok users discover new musicians via the platform.
Moreover, 63% of those users say that they’ve heard new music that they’ve never heard before on the platform.
The Hook & Lead Method is a way to tap into that exact audience on TikTok that’s looking for new music.
Here’s How It Works
The general overview of this process is simple.
Create a series of bite-sized TikTok videos that are both engaging and authentic.
Like this one from Youngr.
Throw a list of links (to Spotify, YouTube, etc.) in your bio and have plenty of music and other content available for your new listeners to check out.
Click the link in the bio, and it shows you all the platforms that the creator uses outside of TikTok.
You’ve caught eager listeners’ attention with your awesome TikTok videos, and you’ve also shown them that there’s even more to see.
Your YouTube channel will play a crucial role in showcasing long-form versions of your TikTok creations.
From there, those new listeners will check out your original music on Spotify (or wherever) and you’ve successfully added one more fan to your list.
Now, that was definitely a very simple way of explaining this process.
Let’s break things down step-by-step to further explain The Hook & Lead Method.
The 7-Steps To Using “The Hook & Lead Method” To Grow Your Fanbase
This process is going to take a lot of hard work.
The truth is that going viral on TikTok with your music is never a guarantee.
You simply can’t rely on that.
Instead, staying consistent and being authentic are both great ways to attract listeners that will actually stick around.
Utilizing The Hook & Lead Method is a sure-fire way to gain some exposure to you as an artist and the music that you create.
This method will help you to avoid being a “one-hit-wonder” that everyone will forget about in a week.
With that, here is an overview of the 7-steps to take to use The Hook & Lead Method to your benefit for years to come:
Step #1: Reinforce Your Branding
Rebranding or doubling-down on your branding should definitely be your first step.
A musician’s “brand” isn’t that different from, say, a company’s brand.
Your brand is what gives you your own unique persona, and people care about that just as much as they care about your actual music.
The truth is, people aren’t just attracted to a musician’s music.
They are also attracted to a musician’s identity.
With that, here are some steps you can take to improve your branding:
Pinpoint your unique “selling point”
Every musician has a special quality that their fans can only experience with them, and them alone.
This can be the distinct sound of your music, the characteristics of your personality outside of your music, or even the manner in which you engage with your fans.
No matter what it is, it’s worth it to sit down and figure out what your unique quality is as a musician and hone in on that.
Focus on your “image”
Developing your image is a crucial part of branding yourself.
We’re talking about the clothes you wear, your logo, your color scheme, and even your hairstyle.
These are all aspects of what makes you, you!
The best part about this step is that it’s super easy.
All you have to do is be yourself and embrace the things that you naturally gravitate towards.
Make yourself a logo that you like.
Wear the clothes that you like.
To put it simply, don’t try to be someone else.
Make a website
You don’t have to go crazy here.
Squarespace is an excellent tool for musicians to create their own website with ease.
Simply plug in your logo, pick a color scheme and create a compelling bio.
Your website will act as the central hub for your brand and your music.
Plus, you can link to your website from your TikTok as a way to utilize The Hook & Lead Method to expand your reach.
Don’t forget to make yourself an Electronic Press Kit as well.
Step #2: Create Accounts For Everything
Now that you have established your brand, it’s time to sign up and create accounts for everything you don’t already have.
This step is pretty simple.
All you have to do is cover all platforms.
Make a TikTok account.
Make a YouTube account.
Get yourself a Spotify for Artists account and get verified.
Don’t skip anything here.
This is the preparation phase for getting your face plastered everywhere.
All while using TikTok as the main catalyst.
Step #3: Create A Social Media Landing Page
To do this, you’ll need to use one of the many “link-in-bio tools” that are available across the web.
Here’s a list of the best link-in-bio tools out there:
Most of the tools on that list offer a free version, and that should be just fine when you’re just starting out.
Now, be sure to include all of your links on your landing page.
You can get creative down the road by showing off your most recent singles or links to dates of upcoming shows.
For now, as long as you have your top priority links included, you should be set.
Step #4: Brainstorm Ideas For TikTok & YouTube Content
You have to have a plan for your video content before executing the most important steps of this process.
You can’t just start posting random videos on TikTok and expect things to fall into place.
The most important element of growing your fanbase on TikTok nowadays is consistency.
Brainstorming ideas and having a clear-cut plan for your videos will ensure that you’re posting the right content from the start.
TikTok Content Ideas
Let’s start out with some ideas for your TikTok videos to give you some inspiration
- Use humor: DJ Cummerbund aka “The Mashup Messiah” creates wild mashups of popular songs to grow his following.
- Create helpful tutorials: We talked about SEIDS earlier; she has a slew of bite-sized music production tutorials that lead TikTok users to her YouTube channel.
- Bite-sized song covers: Both Stephen Stanley and Youngr use unique one-shot song covers to lead TikTok viewers to their original music on YouTube and Spotify.
- Show your progression: John Roseboro’s TikTok is interesting in that he simply shows his progression as a full-time musician all while being truly authentic.
Those are just a few content ideas that have worked for TikTok musicians already.
There are plenty of untapped ideas out there that are ripe for the taking.
Yes, you can use other musicians’ content as a form of inspiration, but you should do your best to come up with something new and something that’s truly unique to you.
YouTube Content Ideas
Since TikTok users are already familiar with your video content in a shorter-form, it only makes sense to lead them to your YouTube channel for longer-form versions of your content.
That’s what makes YouTube such a vital part of The Hook & Lead Method.
Chances are that the very next thing your TikTok viewers will gravitate towards is your YouTube channel.
With that, here are some ideas for your YouTube content to get your creative juices flowing:
- Music videos or lyric videos: Stephen Stanley’s YouTube channel is basically just a visual extension of his discography where he showcases all of his music videos and lyric videos.
- Full-length versions of song covers: If you decide to make short song covers on TikTok, then your YouTube channel can simply be a combination of full-length song covers and your original music.
- Tutorials: You can make videos where you walk viewers through how to play popular songs, give viewers your own songwriting tips, show off your home recording studio equipment, etc.
There really are no limits to the types of content you can create for your YouTube channel.
It’s true that you’re a little more “confined” with the content you can make for TikTok due to the 10-minute video length.
On YouTube, you can really make whatever you want, no matter how long the video will be.
Also, the ability to break your videos up into playlists on YouTube gives you more freedom in the types of content you can create.
Honestly, the possibilities are endless with your YouTube channel.
Step #5: Upload Your Music On All Major Streaming Services
With over 180 million premium subscribers, Spotify is still king of paid music streaming services.
That doesn’t mean that you should focus solely on Spotify though.
Apple Music is still the second best streaming service to use nowadays.
YouTube Music is a great gateway for listeners as well.
To further simplify this, here is a list of all the music streaming services that you should upload your music to outside of Spotify:
- Apple Music
- Amazon Music
- YouTube Music
As payouts continue to improve, utilizing all of these music streaming services will give you multiple avenues to make money from your music.
On top of that, by uploading your music on a variety of platforms, you’re giving your listeners the freedom to find you on their streaming service of choice.
Step #6: Make Your First Batch Of YouTube Videos
The whole idea behind uploading your music on multiple streaming services is to give TikTok users plenty of music to consume after you’ve got them hooked.
The same principle applies to your YouTube channel.
So, before you post anything on TikTok, you need to give your future TikTok fanbase something else to watch.
You can get away with creating and publishing a minimum of 5 videos on YouTube before starting on your TikTok content.
By this point, you should already have an idea of what you want to do with your YouTube content.
The point of this step is to simply execute those ideas and get some videos made.
Now, creating Youtube videos is no easy task.
This step is likely to take you a good amount of time to accomplish.
Starting a YouTube channel is a topic that could easily exist in a separate article entirely.
There are a bunch of beginner’s guides out there that can help you get started.
Step #7: Create Your First Batch Of TikTok Videos
At this stage, you have all the time in the world.
You have music and content that’s readily available for your future TikTok fans.
Now all you need to do is create content for TikTok.
This is the culmination of The Hook & Lead Method, and this is what this whole process is for.
There’s no golden rule here, but you should at least map out your first 10 videos and get them posted one after the other.
From there, it’s as easy as sticking with it and continuing to post new TikTok videos regularly.
Use your analytics on your TikTok profile to see where your audience is heading after you’ve successfully hooked them.
Make adjustments to your strategy if necessary, and most importantly, engage with your fans as much as possible.
SoundOn: Using TikTok’s New Music Distribution Platform To Your Benefit
Earlier this year, TikTok rolled out their new music distribution platform called SoundOn.
SoundOn is a service that allows registered users to upload their music directly to TikTok and RESSO.
Your music will also be distributed to other streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music thanks to SoundOn’s partnership with TuneCore.
When your uploaded music is used on TikTok, you will earn royalties right off the bat.
Here’s how the payouts work:
For music played on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. – SoundOn pays out 100% royalties for the first year and it drops down to 90% after that.
For music played on TikTok – SoundOn payouts will always be 100%!
Songs used by other TikTok users in their videos will always be valid for 100% royalty payouts.
Also, registered users will be verified on TikTok and they’re not required to utilize TikTok exclusively.
Now, there are two things that set this distribution platform apart from the rest.
For one, SoundOn promises that artists will always retain full rights to their music.
Secondly, there are no distribution fees whatsoever!
Sure, there are a number of other music distribution platforms that pay out 100% royalties, but this usually comes with distribution fees, transactional fees, or administration fees as part of the deal.
That’s not the case with SoundOn.
This new distribution platform is certainly something you should take advantage of.
I mean, you’re already putting in all the work to make a series of awesome TikTok videos to promote your music.
Why not have the same platform spread your music around the world at the same time.
It’s pretty much a no brainer.
The Funnel Effect: How TikTok Music Promotion Impacts Other Platforms
It’s very evident that the amount of TikTok followers a musician has doesn’t correlate with their other platforms.
In most cases, a musician will have a disproportionate amount of followers on TikTok when compared to, say, their Instagram.
Frankly, this is just the nature of things right now.
TikTok is such a vast platform.
Again, there are over 1 billion TikTok users.
The sheer numbers are in favor of TikTok nowadays.
To showcase this, here’s a simple graphic to help you understand how The Funnel Effect will look on your very own platforms.
If you want solid proof of this, then check out Stephen Stanley’s profiles.
He has over 800k followers on TikTok, but it trickles down from there.
On Spotify he has over 190k monthly listeners, 22k subscribers on YouTube, and it filters down from there on his other platforms.
The point of showing you this is to try and keep you from getting discouraged.
For example, over the course of 6 months, you might only increase your Spotify monthly listener count by 4%.
That still equates to hundreds and potentially thousands of people.
Those are still huge gains!
Besides, in the meantime you’ll still be getting a ton of exposure on one of the worlds biggest platforms: TikTok.
Keep chugging along!
Post content regularly.
Keep writing music.
If you’re willing to put in the work, things are sure to fall into place eventually.
Additional Tips For Promoting Your Music On TikTok
There are some general guidelines you should follow when promoting yourself on TikTok, especially as a solo musician.
Here are some tips and tricks to ensure your success on TikTok:
#1: Stay Authentic
We all know how saturated the music industry is nowadays.
The digital era has made it possible for musicians everywhere to make a name for themselves without a record label.
With that being the case, it’s important that you do everything you can to stand out above the rest.
Like we went over before, the easiest way to do this is to be yourself.
When creating videos for TikTok, it might be tempting to follow current trends exclusively.
The problem with that approach is that it might give your audience the impression that all you care about is going viral.
Moreover, the likelihood of you going viral increases if you are authentic about it.
Again, going viral isn’t the endgame here, but it’s better to stay true to yourself in case one of your videos does go viral.
#2: Be Consistent
Give yourself a set time frame that you’ll post a new TikTok video.
Maybe it’s once every other week, or even once a month.
Either way, posting new videos on a regular basis gives your TikTok audience something to look forward to.
Yes, it’s true this isn’t always possible with every single video.
Life happens, and you’re still a musician outside of being a TikTok content creator.
Really, just be as consistent as possible and TikTok users are sure to notice that you care about the videos you make.
#3: Stay The Course
This has been mentioned a few times already, but it’s important to keep your head up through this process.
There will be months where you only get a handful of new followers, and that’s okay.
This is just the nature of how TikTok works.
Keep doing you and something is bound to stick.
In the meantime, keep working on everything else you’re doing to keep your mind busy.
#4: Be Relatable
Whether it be with your music or the type of TikTok videos you create, the best way to make an impact on TikTok is to be relatable.
If you have a track that you’ve made that strikes a chord with the average person, then that song is more likely to resonate with casual TikTok users.
Moreover, the videos you create for Tiktok should do the same thing.
If you’ve spent any time on TikTok, you definitely know what this feeling is.
The videos that make you laugh the most on TikTok are ones that are about scenarios that we’ve all been through.
There are certain emotional pressure points that you can hit with your music and your TikTok videos.
To be fair, it might take a while to learn how to do this.
Down the road, once you’re more of a seasoned TikTok creator, this might come more naturally to you.
Time To Get Your Music Noticed
Now that you know how to use TikTok to promote your music with The Hook & Lead Method, it’s time to get out there and show the world what you’re made of!
Nobody said this process is going to be easy.
That said, when you look at the success that so many other TikTok musicians have had with this method, it’s easy to see that it’ll all be worth it.
Just remember, the goal isn’t to go viral.
Waiting for a video to go viral is a volatile game.
Instead, your goal should be to get your name out there and grow your fanbase over time.
As long as you stay true to yourself and your music, you’ll already be way ahead of the game.
Jeremy Bongiorno – I have been a musician and producer for over 15 years. My goal is to provide reliable, honest information and hopefully help to improve the quality of life in your studio.