The incredible power of TikTok for touring: The new social media giant is leading the way on the road

Kevin Mazur/Getty ImagesFrom TikTok to Lolla Tai Verdes, who released his single “Stuck In The Middle” while still working at a Verizon store and whom TikTok named “Emerging Artist”, performs at Lollapalooza 2021 at Chicago’s Grant Park on July 30, 2021.

Over its five-year history, TikTok has become a key driver for building many artist careers as the social media platform has grown exponentially.

A new report from Cloudflare, a web infrastructure and content delivery network, has just placed TikTok as the most visited site on the internet, ahead of Google and Facebook. With its video snippet format, the social media platform helps create, smash, build, sustain and/or bury careers as artists become meme sensations climbing the streaming charts on the wings of content generated by users.

And if they’re really successful, hub hubbub can even convert users into hard ticket buyers. Just look at Grammy-winning artists who found early success on the platform like Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat and original TikTok star Lil Nas X, all of whom today are selling out arenas, festivals headlights and more.

“In 2021, over a billion people turned to TikTok for entertainment, finding and sharing their joy with others, and learning new things,” Ole Obermann, TikTok’s global head of music, wrote in the post. platform’s 2021 year-end music report. It may be unrivaled as a music discovery tool, as MRC Data found that “75% of TikTok users in the US say they use TikTok to discover new artists, and 63% say they hear music they’ve never heard before. the first time on the platform.

To get out of TikTok, however, an artist must first develop and nurture the support of an unpredictable gauntlet of fans who must read the posts (which can now be up to three minutes long), like them, share them, and sometimes create or increase. It’s a lot to orchestrate, but if and when it logs on TikTok, it’s solid proof-of-concept and content that can take artists to a whole new level of real-life success.

“There are account analytics and song analytics that artists, managers, and labels have access to that allow the industry to dig deeper into what resonates and what doesn’t,” says William Gruger, editorial manager of TikTok. “This insight is leveraged extensively, allowing artists and their teams to refine their content strategy and grow their communities on the platform.”

The traditional catch is that there is a great distance between artists who find success on social media and convert that success into a touring career; but, that distance may not be as vast as it once was, according to Gruger. “It’s a very different time now,” he says. “It was believed that the early content creators needed the music industry to turn them into artists. Now, due to the low barrier to entry and the fact that TikTok artists need to have an audience to be successful, that translates much more easily into the ability to perform. The strength of the bond between the fanbase and the artist that TikTok facilitates allows that shared rapport to translate into a live tour. There’s a much shorter pipeline between someone who breaks on TikTok and be a touring artist.

Gruger gives examples of two up-and-coming touring artists using the platform in different ways. “Blu DeTiger is an artist who engages with her community on the platform around live performances,” he says. “She’s a bass player who toured with Caroline Polachek (formerly of Chairlift), and now has solo material and a solo tour. She uses the platform to announce dates and when those dates happen, she uses TikTok to showcase her performances from her live show. She will have different and really cool moments that will highlight her tour.

“Tai Verdes is someone who uses a vlog style and really talks to the camera,” continues Gruger. “From ‘I’m about to take the stage at Lollapalooza for the first time’ and sharing her feelings behind that moment to most recently, ‘Here’s a day in the life of The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.’ Like, ‘One hour, I’m cold. Second hour, look, there’s a famous person’, and bringing his fans with him every step of the way. Both illustrate how TikTok is truly a storytelling platform. isn’t just about memes and dance trends, but can really be used to bring fans of the artists with them on their road trip.

To advertise and build momentum for tours, i.e. sell tickets, TikTok can be an incredibly effective tool with artists putting links in their bio to the ticketing platform of their choice. Gruger points to Olivia Rodrigo, one of the year’s biggest stars: “She kicked off her tour on TikTok by recreating the pen toss in a mug trend that was popular at the time,” he says. “If you land a pen in a cup, what you say is true. She announced her tour this way.
Jet SettersJet SettersBoney M, founded in Germany in the mid-70s and which included Liz Mitchell, Marcia Barrett, Maizie Williams and Bobby Farrell, was resurrected in 2021 on TikTok when their song “Rasputin” from their 1978 album Nightflight To Venus went viral . Echoes/Redferns

After the on-sale, however, where many Rodrigo fans couldn’t get tickets, the platform erupted with users linking up to miss something. “There were all these, ‘Wow, didn’t anyone else get tickets? reactions,’” ​​Gruger recounts. not getting tickets went viral, which was interesting.”

When asked about merchandising opportunities, Gruger hints that something could be coming soon. In August, the platform announced an in-app e-commerce integration with Shopify, which stands to reason could be part of its future merchandise strategy. A ticketing integration has not yet been announced.

TikTok, it should be noted, is not just for up-and-coming artists, with some of the biggest and most successful artists in the industry continuing to nurture and build fanbases through the platform. “Doja Cat is someone who burst onto the platform in 2019 and started integrating and using the platform in 2020,” says Gruger. “As festivals this year began to open up, moments of her live performances went viral. It was hard to tune in without seeing her for a moment, especially after her performance at Austin City Limits. ‘one of the first times a mass audience could see her performing and referencing her popular dances on TikTok, she created a 360-degree moment.

Another massive star all over TikTok this year was Harry Styles whose “Love On Tour” sold more tickets than any other tour in 2021, according to Pollstar’s year-end charts. “There were many moments on his tour, especially around his banter with the crowd, that worked incredibly well on the platform,” Gruger said. “There are people who started whole accounts right after following him on tour. I don’t know if they’re literally on every date, but the account is a compilation of Harry Styles’ moments on tour documenting great times when he jokes around with the crowd or his dance moves. The fandom for artists like Harry is huge, but how that fandom takes artists on tour and translates them into content strategy on TikTok is something new this year.

TikTok can also be a tool for digging up catalog content. In 2021, there were artists like Boney M, a Euro-Caribbean vocal group passing through Germany from the 1970s to 1980s whose song “Rasputin” was in the platform’s Top 20 Global Songs of 2021; and “The Backyardigans,” a Nickelodeon show that ran from 2004 to 2013, saw resurgences this year.

“A really interesting part of TikTok is its non-linearity compared to DSPs, which are so focused on the current catalog and are in the charts and have big hits,” says Gruger. “At TikTok, we see artists and recorded parts of catalogs from all eras popping up and going viral. Boney M is a really good example of an old band from the 70s disco era that went viral because of ‘a dance and other reasons and got a new modern context. Emo is also a really big genre, with acts like Simple Plan and Papa Roach having new relevance today in part because of TikTok. will absolutely show up to see them in person.

Talk about actionable data…

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