4 Ways to Master the TikTok Algorithm as a Musician

Uncover the mechanics behind TikTok's content selection process and get your music trending on TikTok.

TikTok never adhered to the standard model adopted by other social media platforms, where users follow accounts of people they know and only see content from those accounts. Instead, TikTok curates an ecosystem where users tap into their For You page to discover a global selection of videos tailored specifically for each user based on interest and in-app activity. Now, other top social media platforms are following TikTok's lead, focusing on short-form video content featuring trending audio.

How does TikTok's algorithm work for Musicians? We've got you covered.

1. Find Your TikTok Niche

Fans want to know the real you. Create niche content to cultivate a loyal fanbase.

The powerful AI behind TikTok's success suggests content based on what the user likes: specific challenges, music, or other categories. When you're sharing and promoting music across TikTok, it's crucial to find content you enjoy making the most.

Test out different, repeatable concepts and shortlist those that resonate both with you and your audience. See what works, and doesn't, and make content that feels authentic to you.

Things to consider:

  • Could your release spark a dance trend?

  • Is there a story you can tell alongside the audio in your next TikTok upload?

  • How does your music tie into current TikTok trends, or could you invent an entirely new one?

2. Focus on Your Top Indicators With TikTok Pro Analytics

How are your videos performing? Who is interacting with your content? Tips to choose your next TikTok wisely.

TikTok will curate each For You page using a number of factors, including the engagement and completion rate of the content. Look back at your published videos to identify those that got the best watch times, the highest engagement, and the most views. Use this information to apply what has proven to be successful.

DJ duo Trinix remixes trending songs, driving their content within the TikTok ecosystem and creating opportunities to reach new audiences. Their TikTok page features themes and series based on previous videos that performed well. The duo has identified what is effective- and what isn't- allowing them to keep doing more of what works.

Don't forget: keep up with your statistics. In the Creator Tools section of your TikTok account, visit the Analytics page to view engagement insights and follower demographics, including gender, top territories, and follower activity. Knowing your audience is key to learning what TikToks to upload.

3. Think Local

Focus on local culture to stay as relevant as possible, including language, local trends, and local music.
If you're targeting more than one country in more than one language, make sure that everyone can understand you. TikTok is inherently sound-on, so you should add on-screen language & subtitles to translate where necessary. Make sure your text is visible; it's generally best to place text at the top of the screen, not the bottom, as your screen name and description takes up much of the space below.

French Producer Petit Biscuit speaks in both English and French for his audience, adding subtitles in English when he speaks in French to appeal to both audiences.

Pro Tip: including closed captions in all videos increases user accessibility.

4. Post Frequently

Don't let fans forget you. Stay connected with your TikTok following daily to keep your music circulating.

TikTok trends gain and lose popularity day-to-day and week-to-week, keeping users engaged and content creators on their toes. Posting a new TikTok per day- whether its promoting your release, tapping into an existing trend, or vlogging (#DayInTheLifeOfADIYArtist)- motivates fans to be actively involved. The more you post and the more engagement your videos receive, the more TikTok will prioritize widely sharing your content.

If daily posting is too much for you, find a cadence that works and stick to it. Your fans will start to anticipate your next upload, creating a buzz within your following.

So What?

The general idea behind TikTok's algorithm turns out to be fairly simple: when you upload a new video, TikTok will show that video to your following and a small batch of random users. Based on watch time and engagement- a good rule of thumb for tracking success is 10 likes for every 100 views- TikTok will either push that video to a wider audience, or continue letting it circulate among a small group. When your videos show high engagement, they will circulate to wider audiences. 

Finding your niche, focusing on your top indicators, thinking and acting locally, and posting frequently will help drive the success of your next TikTok videos.

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