Navigating the Waters of Tik-Tok

June 29, 2022

If you had everything you ever needed to get your business up and running and you knew that this plan was the best plan out there for the growth of your business, would you do it? When you get down to it, Tik-Tok is a promotional tool used to benefit your business. Whether you like it or not, as an artist, the business you are promoting is your music and getting people to buy into the music. What better way than to use this platform that allows users to scroll through countless amounts of videos, which means countless amounts of music. It has never been easier to get your music out there and help reach a wider audience. Of course like anything in life, when something sounds so good, it usually has potential drawbacks and risks. But let’s focus on the good and how to maximize your potential going forward.

While you or your music may not be trending or going viral that doesn’t mean you can’t use what’s trending now to your advantage. Find out what is trending right now, a song, a dance. Whatever it is, it’s a good idea to understand what is popping off in the app and act accordingly. That could be a new dance, or meme, and you could center it around your music. Now every video shouldn’t be about you putting on your own songs. It should be about promoting your brand. If you do that people will gravitate towards the music. People don’t buy the music nowadays; they buy the brand.

What has been popular even before social media was the singing of covers on YouTube. Tik-Tok has made it more bitesize and more accessible. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to start covering as many songs as you can and build a consistent schedule around that. It has been done time and time again. You look at the likes of Ariana Grande to Charlie Puth. They started out with covers. That is not to say that you could become the next Ariana Grande or Charlie Puth, but it says something that they both did covers of songs way before they were famous.

Questions with The Violent Nines about Artistic Integrity and Kanye West

Blowing up on Tik-Tok isn’t as glamorous as it seems. It can be potentially dangerous for anyone not knowing what they are doing. If you are doing music and wanting to further your career as a musician for the sake of the art then you should be fine. Make sure to have those ideals and principles in place, as things can change quickly. 

The Violent Nines, a band from the Twin Cities, gave some answers about how Tik-Tok changed the way they look at music from an artistic standpoint. 

“From a songwriting standpoint, there’s pressure to write melodies that you can use for trends, which has changed the writing process a little bit. You need a catchy 5 second snippet in your song to fit what Tik-Tok uses. In some senses it changes the song writing process significantly, but in other ways it doesn’t change the process at all because it’s almost impossible to guess at what will hit the Tik-Tok algorithm well.”

As you can see it may change from song to song. It brings it back to the why of it all. Why are you doing this music thing? They brought up a great overall point here. Even if you try to focus on writing for Tik-Tok that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re sacrificing your artistic integrity in the process. You could use it to gain traction, to make people listen. It all hinges on whether you let that become who you are as an artist. Are you someone who writes catchy tunes for Tik-Tok or someone greater? As musician J. Cole once said, “Is it to facilitate growth or to become famous?” That is up to the artist to decide.

Let’s take it back to the early 2000’s. From the age of giving away mixtapes and demos to people hoping they would listen to posting your music on Tik-Tok and having a better chance of getting noticed. For young Kanye West, he made a name for himself as a producer. He found success with help producing The Blueprint by rapper Jay Z. This album put him on the map of producers which in turn led to opportunities to turn these connections and following he now has into becoming an artist. It wasn’t without trial and error and it didn’t happen overnight.

People didn’t take Kanye seriously as they only tagged him as a producer who happens to rap a little. Obviously he found a way and became one of the most influential rappers of his generation. How much easier would Kanye West have been able to put himself out there as an artist if he had TikTok? Would he have had to jump those same hurdles that were in his way back then? The answer is no, the ease of Tik-Tok and social media would have helped him and his career take off into arguably greater heights than he reached back then. This understanding and context of how things were done back then allows you to get a grasp of the history and using that knowledge to understand it’s a different game being played today.

Where to Go from Here

From establishing a bit of the ins and outs of Tik-Tok and talking with a band about their process with the app, then taking a look back at one of the most successful artists of our generation and what his career looked like pre-social media, it has put into perspective the magnitude of what Tik-Tok is right now and will become in the future for artists. The biggest takeaway here is that it’s really all up to the artist. At the end of the day all the advice about what to do, how other people have done it and are doing it now, is all speculation. The individual artist has to make these decisions for themselves and be able to live with the results.

NCU’s Writing for Media class recognizes the importance of Tik-Tok on the music industry.