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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 22, Number 1 (2022)

Marketing Agile Artists: How Music Labels Can Leverage TikTok’s Virality

Andi Coulter

Washington and Lee University


TikTok’s meteoric rise in recent years is unparalleled by any other social media platform. From a music standpoint, TikTok differs from other social media as sound lies at the center of its user experience. Unknown artists have used the platform’s democratized algorithm to get their music in front of fans; one viral song trend can catapult an artist into a massive chart and commercial success. This has led to TikTok becoming responsible for the bulk of new music discovery, from breaking new artists to resurrecting older ones. While studies have shown the link between how smaller artists have used TikTok to find a following, little research has been done to show how major labels should leverage TikTok in their marketing rollouts. Certainly, digital marketing’s peer-to-peer or co-creation between larger artists and their fans has been part of music marketing for some time, and this strategy worked well for Harry Styles and Lizzo on TikTok in the summer of 2022. Yet, music virality on the platform is more often than not being dictated by the users over the strict marketing intent of the labels. This paper shows how TikTok’s music virality eschews the co-creation of traditional social media marketing in favor of user-generated content. In other words, users don’t merely comment or circulate content; they become the content. TikTok is changing music marketing from a co-creative ecology to a user-generated medium using micro-influencers and agile marketing methods.

Keywords: TikTok, virality, music marketing, user-generated content, agile marketing

Coulter, AndiMarketing Agile Artists: How Music Labels Can Leverage TikTok’s Virality." Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 22, no. 1 (2022): 135-161. https://doi.org/10.25101/22.5

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