How to Grow on TikTok as a Music Artist

It's one of Gen Z's top three apps. It inspires its users to create content from the hottest singles and long-forgotten deep cuts. There's no breakthrough for Doja Cat, Lil Nas X, or Ice Spice without it.
Artists are blowing up on TikTok every week. If you're not trying to grow your TikTok account daily, you're missing chances to cultivate new fans and make tons of revenue.
That said, answering all your questions about how to grow as a musical artist on TikTok can feel more daunting than the “buss it” challenge. How do I add my music to TikTok? How do I get verified on TikTok? These are valid quandaries.
Fear not! TuneCore is here to guide you through taking TikTok by storm, building your following, and making revenue along the way.
It's time to grow as a music artist on TikTok.

Optimizing Your TikTok Profile As a Music Artist

The first way to build your following and exposure on TikTok is to optimize your TikTok profile.

Yes, "optimizing your TikTok profile" sounds like meaningless Silicon Valley jargon. We promise it isn't. There are concrete steps you can take to make sure your page:

  • Is a business account
  • Is verified
  • Is showing up in Google search results

These three things will help your profile and music compete with the platform’s best and brightest content creators. Plus, they place you on the path to growing as an artist on TikTok.

And the first one takes thirty seconds.

TikTok Business Account for Artists

To quote the great Jay-Z: “You’re not a businessman; you're a business, man.”

Every musical artist is their own CEO. Signing up for a free TikTok Business account for music is a way to ‌immediately improve your standing as a TikTok Musician. It helps you grow as an artist on TikTok by giving you access to a ton of tools like Analytics, the Commercial Music Library, and Post Scheduler. We’ll tackle each of those shortly.

First things first, though: you need to sign up for a TikTok Business account, which you can do by clicking here. (Seriously, do so – it takes thirty seconds.)

So now that you have a TikTok business profile, you’re verified, right?

Not exactly.

Updating consistently on social media is a key to growing an artist on TikTok

Getting Verified as a TikTok Musician?

Miley Cyrus is verified on TikTok. The influencers Lil Tay and Zack King are, too. Getting a verified account on TikTok is instant proof of credibility because users are not allowed to pay for one. That makes it different than Instagram, X, and so many more.

To be musically verified on TikTok, you must apply and pass TikTok's six verification guidelines. They are:

  • Your account must be active and feature at least 1 publicly posted photo
  • Your account must have a profile picture *and* artist bio
  • Your account must be public, not private
  • Your account must follow TikTok's Terms of Service
  • You have to have two-factor authentication
  • Your account must represent someone or something notable – i.e. it's gone viral, been featured in multiple news sources, etc

If you're reading this guide because you're still trying to go viral, don't despair. Taking the steps necessary to become verified on TikTok all but guarantees your growth as a TikTok artist. You'll be trying to farm consistent fan engagement, earning revenue, and using the correct hashtags for TikTok musicians.

Those are worthy pursuits on their own and -- taken in tandem -- ensure TikTok development.

Tik-Tok Business Tools for Musicians

The key to growing as an artist on TikTok? TikTok business tools for musicians. They:

  • Analytics: you'll use this to track any given post's engagement, follower growth, and so much more. Analytics are a data-driven way to measure your success, and TikTok's written about them here.
  • Commercial Music Library: The Commercial Music Library (or CML) is a collection of more than 1,000,000 sounds and songs pre-approved for commercial use. This makes creating royalty-free content a breeze, and you'll be doing a lot of that.
  • Post Scheduler: this tool is exactly what it sounds like – a way to decide when your TikToks drop

No matter how much you do or don't use these tools, access to them is instrumental to growing as an artist on TikTok. But maybe you're still wondering if TikTok is worth your time as a musician. That's fair!

Let's look at three factors to break down why it is.

Why You Should Be Using TikTok as a Musician

Artists who grew using TikTok finding real-life success

TikTok’s Impact on Music Revenue

The first compelling reason to grow on TikTok as an artist is one word: money.

Business Insider claims 67% of TikTok users are more likely to seek out a song on music streaming services after hearing it on TikTok. That leads to more revenue, and sometimes lots of it. Sirius XM has a “TikTok Radio” station that’s solely dedicated to the platform’s biggest hits.

Myke Towers “LaLa” became a top-five Spotify smash in multiple countries after it peaked on TikTok, leading to tons of streaming residuals.

The social media platform’s impact on music revenue is real.

That starts with going viral.

Your Music Going Viral on TikTok

Petey is one of 2023’s breakout music artists.

He’s signed to Capitol Records. He has more than 1.4 million followers on Instagram. That’s largely due to two things: his anthemic emo-pop rock songs and TikTok

Petey went viral during the COVID-19 lockdown for creating absurd, comedic TikTok’s with his manager Will Crane. Many of these didn’t focus on his music. They were more like sketches than anything else. This one is laugh-out-loud funny.

@peteyusaHuge shoutout to Big T for the enormous check they gave me for this

♬ original sound - Petey

It’s also been watched more than a million times. And even though it’s closer to SNL than songwriting, it’s proof you should get your music on TikTok.

The goal of TikTok is to create appealing content. There are endless ways that you, a creative musician and artist, can do that. Do you have a bizarre special talent? Show it off. Do you impersonate celebrities? Film those impressions and set it to one of your songs.

Create great content with your music or on a TikTok business profile that links to your music and the streams and follows will come.

Just ask Petey.

Success Stories of Music Artists on TikTok

Lil Nas X began the YeeHaw challenge on TikTok. Beach Bunny’s “Prom Queen” became a hit on the app and led the band to get their record deal. PinkPantheress worked her way to one million TikTok followers by using her account as a testing ground for whether her music was “good enough to put out or not.”

There’s no one right way to write your TikTok success story, but it’s clear that having one is possible.

How To Use TikTok for Music Promotion

A musician, seen promoting his music on TikTok

We’ve proved being successful on TikTok is possible. But to be consistently successful on TikTok, you have to put yourself – and your music – out there.

Self-promotion can feel daunting, whether you're an artist or not. Luckily, we’re here to get you get started, from linking your music to your TikTok account or four ways to master the TikTok algorithm.

Let’s dive in.

Linking Your Music To Your TikTok Account

Before you create an iota of content for your TikTok feed, it’s important to link your music to your TikTok account. Plus, you’ll receive a slick-looking official TikTok music page (if you’re eligible for one)

Here’s how:

  1. Achieve eligibility to link your music by
    1. Having 10,000 followers
    2. A verified account
  2. Submit a request
  3. Submit the ISRC(s) of the song(s) you want linked to your profile

If you don’t have a verified account or 10,000 followers yet, that’s okay. The first steps of your content strategy will drive you towards the criteria to link your music on TikTok sooner rather than later.

And you’ll do that through hashtags, collaborations, and encouraging user-generated content.

Best Hashtags for Musicians on TikTok

As of publication, here are the four best hashtags for musicians to use on TikTok:

  • #music
  • #singer
  • #artist
  • #newmusic

We know that these are thuddingly obvious choices. They also work. No effective TikTok post is complete without these hashtags for TikTok musicians.

It's the ones you add after this quartet that make things interesting:

  • #fyp (#foryoupage)
  • #viralvideos
  • #tiktokchallenge
  • #duet
  • The hashtag of any challenge, duet, or trend you’re participating in

More importantly, these can all be used to inspire collaboration and for the types of content you can add to your TikTok profile.

How To Collaborate With Other TikTok Artists

Collaboration between TikTok artists isn’t just reserved for PinkPantheress and Ice Spice.

Participation in duos. Duets, and challenges are indirect collaborations with other TikTok artists who would otherwise be strangers. “Boy’s a Liar (Pt 2)”, may be a Billboard chart-topping hit, but its spirit is in keeping with the TikTok trends that made both its creators famous.

Everyday users and verified artists alike go viral for participating in challenges or duets. You’re likely to get attention on your profile from both when you do the same if you’ve used hashtags effectively.

That could lead to official collaborations, an increase in followers, or even merchandising opportunities.

On TikTok, creating is an act of promotion – don’t be scared to do so. There are millions of users out there who are ready to find, build on, and support you.

Encouraging User-Generated Content

Once your profile has more eyes on it, it's time to encourage users to generate content using your songs or albums. If you've been an active user and growing as an artist on TikTok, like we're discussing, the chances that this feels organic are infinitely higher.

Besides duets and challenges, here are some other video categories to try and tackle if user-generated content is your endgame:

1.Dances
Choreograph a routine to one of your songs

2.Pranks
Surprise unsuspecting people by playing your music loudly

3.Fitness / Sports
Set a fitness challenge of your choosing to one of your songs

Each of these ideas is easily repeatable for listeners around the world and is easily hashtag-able. That dramatically increases your chance of farming engagement from them quickly.

(Bonus tip? Come up with a unique hashtag for your content to use alongside the ones covered above.)

Building Your Brand as a TikTok Musician

TuneCore artists Escondido, who built their brand on platforms like TikTok

Each of these actionable steps will make you more comfortable using TikTok as a musician.

As importantly, they’ll build your brand on musician TikTok (which we discuss more here).

Maybe you don’t know what your brand is. That’s okay! Take a look at the content you’re creating and look for throughlines. Are there colors you favor? Is your sense of humor consistently dry?

When you make deliberate choices about your art, you’re branding. And that ensures you grow as an artist on TikTok.

Promoting Your TikTok on Other Platforms

TuneCore makes sure your music gets distributed to every social media platform for a reason: they’re incredibly valuable for musicians.

Given that, you can and should use other platforms to promote your TikTok.

Individual TikToks can be uploaded to Instagram Reels or shared on X. Threads profiles include linktrees for your TikTok, Spotify, and more. You can control the content you make and release, but not how or why listeners discover you. Cross-promoting your TikTok on every social media platform you're on helps you make money as a musician and will instantly boost your TikTok engagement.

There’s no reason not to do it.

Monetizing Your TikTok Music

You want to monetize your music on TikTok. What’s more, you want to collect the maximum amount of royalties from it and protect your songs as intellectual property. The best way to accomplish all three is with a distribution service like TuneCore.

Obviously, we’re biased, and: when you upload your music to TikTok without the proper protections, the public can do whatever they want with it.

That leaves you – and your music – vulnerable to exploitation.

And while you can absolutely try and keep track of TikTok music monetization, that takes time. There’s so much to do as a musician making a living through your art. You need time to rehearse. You need time to write and book concert venues and be in-studio.

Outsourcing monetization, residual collection, and copyright protection to professionals puts money in your pockets and takes tasks off your plate.

It’s a win-win.

Conclusion

TikTok is a non-stop whirlwind of content. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it.

This guide is your eye in the storm.

If you get your music on TikTok and follow the actionable principles outlined in this guide, your growth as a musical artist on TikTok is all but guaranteed.

The ceiling of that growth is up to you. But in the vernacular of TikTok?

You’re up to the challenge.