Emerging Artists, Addictive Apps and Algorithms

Our PR Director, Michelle Smytheman, is passionate about helping emerging professionals in the communications industry and teaches at the University of the Sunshine Coast. As part of an assessment task this year, there have been some excellent blogs written by first-year students about emerging business trends. We are proud to share their work.

By Mikaela Wilson

Why spend money on marketing when an app can do it for you? The upcoming artists best friend when it comes to music marketing.

What if I told you, an emerging artist, that within minutes of uploading a new song you could reach thousands of people, propelling your music career from bedroom artist to Coachella headliner. That just a small sound bite of your song will reach the ears of current fans, new fans, potential fans and even the ‘haters’ who may end up helping promote your music for you. This is exactly what the highly addictive app TikTok is making possible for upcoming artists all over the world.

TikTok made its debut on the social media market in September of 2016, originally named ‘Musical.ly’ and after a slow start, some rebranding and ownership change, took off in November 2017. The app continued to rise during the shutdown of Covid giving users the opportunity to explore new influences, hobbies, entertainment, dances, information and of course music. The app now sees over 1.8 billion monthly users and has reached 154 countries making it one of the most influential social media apps of the decade.

Having one of the biggest social media databases, TikTok’s main demographic is young adults being between the ages of 18-24, making up 52.8% of the apps regular users. Considering the highest consumers of the new music market and the top users of TikTok are Generation Z, upcoming artists have seen the correlation and utilized this growing trend. By uploading new music onto the app, artists are guaranteed to have their song instantly reach the majority of their target market all thanks to the embedded TikTok algorithm.

Technical, accurate and questionable, the Tik Tok algorithm collects data from viewing times, interactions, locations and interests to create a specific thread of customized videos for the users known on the app as a ‘for you page’. Not only does this allow users to receive content they favour and prefer, but it also gives artists the opportunity to reach their target audience and beyond without having to create specialized marketing strategies. By just uploading a 15 second sound bite, artists can reach a very broad but widespread target market of millions. This strategy can be beneficial however, it isn’t guaranteed to end up on the screens of the targeted audience. Although, with a few added components artists can customize their videos to reach a more specific audience leading to a more effective marketing strategy. By adding hashtags, collaborating with similar artists and creating trends, artists can accurately appeal to their current audience and those who are likeminded, possibly attracting new fans.

‘TikTok is becoming a necessity for artists who want to build their fan bases’ – Bill Rosenblatt

The accuracy and inbuilt data systems within the app can be used to reduce the pressure on artists marketing teams as it’s a resource that does a lot of the work already. Yes, artists will still need a brand to make them stand out, but no longer will they need to waste time narrowing down their target market and spending copious dollars marketing their new music. When used correctly the built-in algorithm can accurately locate the exact audience the artists are trying to reach and have new music to them in just moments.

This marketing strategy not only benefits the artists but can also be a huge bonus for consumers. To find new music that aligns with their current tastes all users need to search is a ‘trend’, hashtag or scroll through their for you page and they will be exposed to multitudes of new music. Long gone are the days of listening to the radio for your new favourite song or searching YouTube for hours, TikTok now allows users to easily seek out new music and even offers them similar genres from the moment they open the app.

As Business Insider reported many popular songs debuted on TikTok often end up on the Billboard Top 100 lists and Spotify Viral 50, with 67% of listeners then searching for the songs on other streaming services. This is why TikTok is growing even more traction, by becoming the avenue that many consumers have turned to, to find new music.

So, are there concerns in this data collecting, addictive app? Of course, like any new social media platform coming onto the market, the long-term effects and behind the scenes data capturing is always unknown. However, in a world highly saturated with new music, I believe upcoming artists should use tools they have right at their fingertips to jump start their career in an industry that could otherwise take years to break into. As for consumers, is this the best way to find new music? Quite possibly. Why go through multiple other streaming and social media platforms to find music you may like, when you can just as quickly find your new favorite song or artist by swiping through an app.

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