TikTok is rapidly becoming one of the most engaging social video platforms; now, musicians are flooding the app with a variety of content in order to capture the attention of young audiences around the world.
In this piece, we dive into some of the unique TikTok tactics used by stand-out stars to attract massive, high-impact audiences to their upcoming musical releases.
Charlie Puth was an early adopter of TikTok music collaborations. Throughout the pandemic, he began sharing his creative musical process, recording from unusual camera angles, and revealing a more authentic side of his life. Fans do not idolize him; rather, they have a deeper allegiance – connection and camaraderie.
In the instance of his smash single “Light Switch,” we were able to accompany Puth on his creative journey. Check out how he comes up with the song’s rhythm:
We observe him creating a beat, a melody, and even recording the sound of a light switch flicking in his studio. TikTok, went crazy for the fascinating and authentic creative process. This is his most-watched and engaged video on the platform, with 121 million views and 16.1 million likes.
We even saw some members of the audience finding new sounds for Charlie, like tapping the end of a long hollow construction tube. Of course, Puth happily responds back and creates a beat for his fans.
For many months Puth continued to tease his new music and his upcoming release. In October of 2021, Puth says “I really do have to finish this song” but he was still figuring out how to start the song. We see him call several collaborators over the phone and ask for suggestions until he finally unlocks the most epic beginning for “Light Switch” which would go on to be played across top 100 radio channels for months.
Since the beginning of September when Puth posted the first “Light Switch” creation video that racked up 121M views, he has uploaded 148 videos to TikTok. Our TikTok insights indicate his channel has collectively totaled 1.3B views and 158M engagements over the past 7 months.
Because TikTok is such a dynamic and engaging platform, it has altered the way artists engage with audiences. Let’s take a minute to contrast Puth’s TikTok success with the best-selling artist, Adele and her release of the 30 album in 2021. Adele received around the same number of views, 1.3 billion over the same time period, albeit on YouTube (the singer does not use TikTok). While both artists had a massive amount of views, Adele’s number of engagements is considerably lower at 18M compared to Puth’s 158M. While these findings do not suggest a lack of success for either performer, they do demonstrate how engaged TikTok users are and the significant differences between the platforms that provide unique user experiences.
Puth’s key practices:
- Engaging questions: Puth recently hinted at a new tour concept on TikTok asking “what if there was a tour called: What If There Was a Tour?” riffing on his popular videos that begin, “what if there was a song that went…” What’s remarkable here is that Puth has established a video format that effectively piques the attention of his audience. When creators start their videos with questions that invite their audience to participate in the creative process, they are far more likely to catch fire and go viral. When an artist uploaded a video asking, “what if Bridgerton was a musical?” we saw the same thing happen with the TikTok-created Unofficial Bridgerton Album.
- Creator conflict: Charlie Puth vs. Benny Blanco has become a major battle amongst TikTok audiences. Blanco, producer and writer of countless hit songs, is seen on the Tok nagging and making fun of Puth’s videos. Needless to say, audiences are freaking out and the online scuffle has driven many of Puth’s fans to become extreme loyalists, running to the singer’s defense. The best part? The two creators are actually great friends. The drama is a spoof, yet its creation has ignited engagement and even obsession from TikTok fans.
Let’s look at some of the other artists following suit
Who exactly is Jack Harlow? If you’re not familiar with the Kentucky rapper yet, you will be soon. While the singer has been working on his craft for some time, he went viral on March 31st after posting a preview of his latest tune, “First Class.” In just one week, 50,000 TikTokers had used the soundtrack in the creation of their own videos. This is the ultimate indicator of engagement as a fan is not just liking and commenting on his posts, but also identifying themselves with his brand.
So, what was it about the soundtrack that made it so popular? The creator cleverly remixes Fergie’s popular song “Glamorous,” which corresponds to Gen Z’s current obsession with early 2000s throwbacks. The song is relevant to the cultural moment and the preferences of audiences.
Since March 31st, the two different teaser videos have received over 110 million views. The song’s virality can be attributed to some of the platform’s most popular creators, like Charli D’amelio, sharing videos of themselves dancing to the soundtrack. In the last 10 days, her video has received 24.2 million views and 3.3 million engagements.
The hashtag #jackharlow has received 2.1 billion views in total.
Harlow’s key practice:
- Soundtrack generation: While Puth brings viewers along on the creation of his upcoming album, Harlow’s song was picked up as a popular soundtrack for dances and other videos amongst Gen Z audiences. With a catchy chorus that is easily adaptable to video content and relevant to current preferences, this song was sure to take off.
Recently, we saw Lizzo leak upcoming snippets of her single “About Damn Time” which was officially released on April 14th. She posted several viral videos of soundtrack sneak peeks, the main one garnering 2.5M views.
Then, she ‘duets’ with the TikTok king himself — Charlie Puth, to dance side by side to her new track.
Lizzo’s key practice:
- Dance collaboration: Lizzo’s video with Puth was everything she needed for the song to take off on the app. With such a loyal and engaged fanbase, the video on Puth’s page would lead millions of users to Lizzo’s hit new single.
We’ve seen so many artists and creators inspiring new ways to cut through the clutter and shape culture through their content. Creators, record labels, and marketers can learn from these individuals who are pushing the needle of innovation and finding new ways to generate viral content and connect with massive audiences.
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