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TikTok For Rock Musicians | How I Gained Over 50k Followers

Welcome back to Punk Rock 101! This week I discuss my journey on TikTok as a guitar player and rock musician and how great the platform is if you are looking to build a fanbase and audience.

In this video I discuss:

- What to do before making TikTok videos

- Some tactics to use in your videos and content

- How to build a growing fanbase based off my own personal experiences.

If you like this video please subscribe for weekly Punk Rock Advice and DIY music tips.

So, Tik Tok? Everyone is on it, it’s been a big player in the music industry for nearly two years now. Some of the biggest artists of the past two years have exploded their careers on the platform. But can a rock band or musician use it and be successful? The answer is yes. I started on TikTok as a complete nobody. I pretty much had zero video making skills at the time, and I have now not only built my main account to over 50k followers, but I actually just started a new account for Punk Rock 101 about a month ago and with only 20 short videos I already have nearly 2400 followers and it keeps growing every day. So, yes you can also grow a sizable audience on this platform and ultimately drive more streams and maybe even turn your music career into to a business.

So, last March when the pandemic hit I was actually on a tour that we unfortunately had to cut short. I ended up driving 25 hours home and feeling a little defeated in the process. As soon as I got home, it was like what’s next? When do we get to go play shows again? How do I do this music thing now? So, like a lot of people I turned to the internet. I dabbled on every platform (and still do) but I recognized that a lot of people were growing really fast on Tik Tok. And at the time, there were a few guitar players on there, but honestly there was definitely a need for more rock music on the platform, and even though a lot more people hav joined since then, I still believe that there’s still a need for more today. So, I started making videos. I watched what was going on and just started trying things. It took me over 150 videos until I had one that finally hit and went kind of viral. But the persistence definitely paid off because once I saw that one go viral I started to gain a lot more ideas for what I could create and even though I probably only had like 100-200 followers after those first 150 videos, the next 150 that I made ended me up with over 10k follower in just a few short weeks. The more I made, the more I analyzed and learned what people liked, and I also became way better at communicating through video. So, if there’s any story within that, just recognize that there is no such thing as overnight success. Everything takes work, so be prepared to suck in the beginning.

So, what exactly have I learned over the process of creating probably over 1000 TikTok at this point that could help you. Let’s start off with this. Before you start making for the platform (or even if you started already) I want you to take a step back and just consume content on TikTok. Watch a few hours, dig around and see what other creators that are making rock music are doing on there (hint: his feel free to watch some of mine). Before you create for any platform this is a crucial step. Tok Tok is not the same as Instagram, its not Youtube, it’s not Vine. It has its own culture and people are there to see specific styles of content. The better you understand what is already happening on the platform, the better content you will create for it.

Alright, so now you watched a bunch of videos and maybe you have some ideas of how you can do your thing on it.First things first, recognize who you are trying to talk to on TikTok. What kind of music do you make? Pop punk? Alt rock? Metal? Knowing which fans you want to capture will definitely help you grow faster. If you just say “Im gonna make videos for everyone” it will be a lot harder to grow because not everyone is going to be into what you’re doing, even if you want them to. So, first consume content, and then choose which audience you think will like your music.

Once you have these two things it's time to start making some videos. Ultimately you have to recognize that if you want to grow on any social media platform you have to provide value to the audience. IF you just ask people to do things like “stream my music” or “buy my merch” and provide no content that is valuable, you’re going to have a really hard time growing. So, make videos that bring that value.

So let me help you kickstart some ideas for videos. Like I said, once you know the audience you are trying to speak to, tell unique stories from your perspective to those people. The biggest differentiator between you and other creators is that your stories are yours and no one else can replicate that. Other than that you can of course go the route of just playing and showing your talents. Sing songs, play your instrument, but even when you do these kinds of videos it may be cool to add tidbits that bring the music back to you as a human. People like people, always remember that. And if they can learn from you or find your videos entertaining, then that is valuable.

So let’s talk tactics with a few things you want to consider when making TikTok videos. First off you need to make sure that the first second of your video is interesting. You can make a great video with a great idea, but if people scroll right past it, it’ll never get seen. So make some kind of a hook for the video, whether that’s text on the screen, some kind of movement, or whatever you need to do to get people to stop scrolling. Here’s an example: This is how you grow your following on TikTok. That would be the start of the video and then I would say whatever I wanted to afterwards. Next, keep the videos as short as possible. Each video should really have one idea that you discuss. Don’t make a video where you’re ranting for a long time because ultimately you want people to watch the whole thing. Even if you see big creators doing that, the reality is people already care about what they have to say…small creators have to just stay narrow. Which brings me to my next point, watch time is such an important analytic on TikTok. All of these social media platforms just want people to stay on them for longer, so the longer you can get people to watch your videos, the more people TikTok will send it out to. If you make a 30 second video and people bail after 7 seconds, that isn’t good. But if you make a 12 second video and people watch 10 seconds of it, that’s great. So keep your ideas short and concise so that people watch from the beginning to end and maybe even more than once.

So once you make a bunch of videos, you need to analyze the reactions you’re getting. If people seem to like one kind of video a lot, then double down on that and recreate it if you can. If you try a bunch of things and find some kind of winning formula, don’t stop making that kind of content. For example, I make a video series called “Riffs that don’t belong on an acoustic guitar” where I just play riffs that people suggest that they think wouldn’t sound good on acoustic. This series has been a huge hit. Every time I post one of these videos it does well and gets more engagement for my account which ultimately helps me to get people excited to engage with me. I have fun making them, they’re easy to make which is a plus, and people like them. So I just keep the series going. Once you make enough videos you will start to find things like this that will work and when you do, keep it going. And just because a video series doesn’t work the first time you post, doesn’t mean its bad. It's definitely helpful to keep trying certain things. But ultimately, when you find things that work it becomes easier to keep making more and more videos because you just do a lot of the same stuff.

So, we’ve gone through what you need to do before making videos which is consume a bunch. We talked tactical ideas about actually making the videos. Now it's up to you. The only way to win in the game of social media is consistent action. You will not get better at making videos by thinking of ideas but never making anything. I used to do this all the time. Just come up with great ideas and not execute. If you want to build an audience, You need to start putting time aside to make something every single day for TikTok. Every day you wait to do this, the more competitive the platform becomes, the harder it is to grow, and soon enough it’ll be just like all the other platforms that are such harder to build an audience on. This is an opportunity for rock musicians. Make videos, have fun, and most importantly be patient. Remember when I told you that it took over 150 videos for me to have one that did well. But I was consistent. I refused to not learn how to do this and its truly insane to see how much better of a creator and how many people I have had the pleasure of connecting with over the past year and a half just because I started making videos for the internet. Seize the opportunity while it’s here.

Hope this video helped you, if you have any questions drop them in the comments. I’m here every week providing punk rock advice so please subscribe to the channel and also like this video it really helps. Thanks for watching see ya next week.

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