Getting your music on TikTok is an interesting little beast. It seems to be something only kids should be into, but it is earning its spot on phones of the people of many ages.
It has the same winning premise like Instagram – instead of trying to work on different devices, it’s primary interest is in your smartphone’s screen. And, considering that most people these days use their phones to access social media, that was the smart way to go.
If by chance, you have been living under a rock for the past couple of years, TikTok is a platform where you can upload videos up to 60 seconds in length. It was created in China in 2016 but exploded worldwide two years later. Even early on, many celebrities jumped on the TikTok train, and the NFL signed up for a multi-year partnership in September of 2019.
It started with kids mostly lip-syncing and doing dance challenges, and now it has expanded into numerous categories.
And, fun fact, TikTok takes most of the credit for Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” becoming such a huge hit.
Why is it important to get your music on TikTok?
There are four major benefits to you leveling up your TikTok game.
The first one is obvious – the app super hot right now and it doesn’t seem like it will lose its popularity soon. It might sound insulting, but the 60 seconds of video or less is perfect for the short life span of an average social media “browser”.
On your side, think of yourself as Scheherazade – you can use these short clips to whet the viewers’ appetite and leave them wanting more.
Second, about 40% of the app users are between 16 and 24 years old. This demographic is very interested in discovering new music. Don’t believe me? Talk to anyone who is in their 30s or 40s. I bet you that the majority of the music they listen to is the stuff they listened to their high school and college years.
Third, all users use music with their content. If someone loves your sound, they will use it to create their video. That way, the users do the promotion work for you.
Finally, you have the TikTok’s artificial intelligence.
The more someone uses the app, the more the AI learns about them. So, if someone is mostly watching music content, that content will appear in their “For You” feed. Users can also mark a clip as “Not Interested” or choose to “hide videos from this user” or “hide videos with this sound”.
What does this mean to you? Well, your videos get to reach people who are exactly into what you have to offer. You don’t have to waste money on ads that are likely to be ignored.
Why do you need a music distributor to get your music on TikTok?
While you can promote yourself as a person with an individual account where you post content to your music, you will need extra help if you want to have your work available for other app users to create their videos, aka streaming.
Again, you can simply upload a song and wait for it to be picked up by others, but some artists had unnecessary headaches due to mislabeling and other technical issues. With a distributor, everything is automated and there is little place for human error.
Many distributors have a deal with TikTok for streaming, and that can put some extra cash into your pocket.
And there is the convenience factor – if you have a distributor that supports TikTok, all these extras are only a click away, instead of jumping from place to place to get your music everywhere.
What are some recommended distributors for uploading your music to TikTok?
Considering that TikTok had a 500% growth in a single year, there will be many distributors chomping at the bits to get their artist on the platform. For now, there are 3 that are doing a pretty good job.
1 – TuneCore
TuneCore is an indie Brooklyn-based publisher and distributor that has been around since 2005. Nine Inch Nails used them to deliver the music from their album, Ghosts I–IV to the Amazon MP3 store.
They collect the revenue from your TikTok streams every quarter and drop it into your account with your other earnings. The rate is pre-set for all artists and you will not earn money only during the subscribers free trial.
They also work to get the songwriters their cut of the royalties.
TuneCore charges $29.99 for the first year, and then it’s $49.99 per year per album. They send your music to 150+ online stores and streaming services, and you keep 100% of the earnings.
2 – DistroKid
DistroKid was founded in 2013 by entrepreneur Philip J. “Pud” Kaplan as a side feature of his music social network, Fandalism. In July 2015, their EP release Calibraska by Jack & Jack went to #1 worldwide in the iTunes charts. DistroKid took no commission, making this the first time in history that the #1 artist walked away with 100% of the earnings.
They aim to make it very easy for you to get your music to TikTok. For new music, you just have to select the checkbox for the platform when you upload it. All old music can be easily added as well by clicking on the “Add to more stores” button.
You can also check out how your music is doing – which song is used in which video, and how many people have seen it.
DistroKid only takes 20% of the “YouTube money”. For all other platforms, the artist keeps 100% of the royalties.
3 – CD Baby
CD Baby is probably the largest online distributor of independent music in the world. They are the home to more than 650,000 artists and are made available to over 100 digital services and platforms. Grammy Award-winning artist Janis Ian, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Bon Iver are just some of their notable artists.
If you want to enable streaming on TikTok, it’s also a matter of a few clicks. To be eligible you will have to set your distribution level to the “Downloads + Streaming” or “Do it all Even Unpaid”.
They have also put together a few handy tips for TikTok promo success.
CD Baby charges $29 per album and takes 9% commission on digital sales, but they don’t charge any fees for streaming services. They also offer full support for physical copy distribution.
Also, if you sign up, you get free access to Show.co – a one-stop-shop for your all marketing needs. It can help you run ads, gain social media following, build an email list, etc.
How to prepare your music before it sending to TikTok?
Most of the technical work is done by your distributor. The only extra effort you might need to put in is to publish the lyrics of your song online. Remember, lip-syncing is one of the biggest fads on the app, and you want to give them tools so users can do their thing.
Another thing that you might want to give another thought is how catchy is your music. Songs that perform best have an amazing hook, are perfect to dance or do a challenge to. Not saying that something slower is unusable, but that seems to be the formula for all tunes that have gone viral.
How long does it take to get my music on TikTok?
This depends on your distributor, but it should take a couple of days for your new music. However, some distributors note that it might take longer for your older work to appear on TikTok due to volume and high interest.
How much does TikTok pay?
This is where things get a bit icky. While TikTok is fantastic for reaching a new audience and promoting your music, it is not such a great source of income of its own. Well, at least for artists. The influencers themselves can make thousands per post, but that’s another show.
So technically, you will earn pennies. And how many of those pennies TikTok keeps for themselves depends on the deal they have made with their distributor.
However, keep in mind that TikTok popularity proved profitable for Ava Max and Lil Nas X in a more substantial way.
When and how do you get paid by TikTok?
Your distributor will deal with the collection of money. Depending on their system and the deal they have with the company, you will be able to see that money in your account every 1 to 3 months.
How much you have earned should be listed with your Spotify, YouTube and other streaming earnings.
Look, the only reason not to promote your music on TikTok would be that your core audience is older than their average user.
Even in that case, you should prepare because it is just a matter of time until everyone’s uncle Bill or aunty May joins the party too.