MBW’s Stat Of The Week is a series in which we highlight a single data point that deserves the attention of the global music industry. Stat Of the Week is supported by Cinq Music Group, a technology-driven record label, distribution, and rights management company.
Nearly two-thirds of viral hits on TikTok are fueled by organic posting by the artist and other TikTok users with no spend on advertising or influencers.
That’s according to a new study of TikTok’s weekly charts in the first half of 2022 by creative consulting agency ContraBrand, which has worked with the likes of Macy Gray and 24kGoldn.
Among the tracks on the TikTok Top 200 that eventually reached over a million Spotify streams, 63.8% were from organic posting by the artist and other TikTok users, according to ContraBrand, while 35.5% were artist-generated content and only 9.1% were driven by influencer marketing and only 2.5% were sparked by paid ads.
“We first began to realize the power of artist-generated content on TikTok in 2020 and it has since dramatically decreased the cost to break a song for our clients. It is arguably the single most powerful method for upcoming artists to not only build a following, but get streams and sell merchandise online without ever having to tour,” ContraBrand co-founder Sean Taylor said.
“All of the 208 artists featured in this report achieved success with songs they released this year so it certainly isn’t too late for artists to utilize TikTok as a highly effective marketing tool for their music.”
In its How Artists are Going Viral on TikTok in 2022 report, ContraBrand also noted that 56% (or 117) of the 208 artists whose tracks featured in the report were not signed to a label.
The report further revealed that unsigned artists outperformed their major and indie label counterparts in terms of the times artists posted a breakout track on average before it reached the 100,000 TikTok views milestone.
Of those unsigned artists, 63% of them went viral without running ads or hiring influencers or agencies.
“All of the 208 artists featured in this report achieved success with songs they released this year so it certainly isn’t too late for artists to utilize TikTok as a highly effective marketing tool for their music,” ContraBrand said.
While many artists fear that they have to go viral quickly on TikTok or stop trying, 50% of the 74 artists who had gone viral via their own content had been actively posting on TikTok for a minimum of 18 months.
“With the shortest length of time spent on the platform before an artist’s big breakthrough being two months, this goes a long way to quashing the myth of artists blowing up overnight on TikTok,” the report said.
ContraBrand highlighted the case of INJI, a US-based artist whose breakout track GASLIGHT amassed 1 million Spotify streams since its release on April 14. INJI only joined TikTok two months prior to the release of that track. The artist has since gained 13,400 TikTok followers and 105,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.
“INJI is a prime example of how releasing your debut single with next to no TikTok followers can still lead to massive success,” ContraBrand said, while also acknowledging that although success can come overnight, case studies would suggest that patience and consistency are key too going viral.
The report examined the weekly charts of 20 countries where TikTok operates including the US, Australia, Canada, the UK, Brazil, Germany, South Korea, Japan, and the Philippines.
The study found that artist-generated content is the most common method for breakout artists to go viral this year as it is the most cost-effective avenue and the lowest barrier for artists who are looking to break into the music industry. This year alone, 74 artists have been able to launch their own careers through posting their own content on TikTok, and of the total, 23 have been able to amass at least 1 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
“Artists don’t necessarily need label backing or to be placed on dozens of editorial playlists, nor do they need to pay influencers to promote their music.”
Sean Taylor, ContraBrand
Taylor said a large part of TikTok’s infrastructure is dedicated to music, unlike other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and as TikTok now reportedly owns a patent for a music service and has hired staff for a unit called “TikTok Music,” music and TikTok are set to become even further intertwined.
“It’s also been really encouraging to see how TikTok has leveled the playing field for up-and-coming artists. Artists don’t necessarily need label backing or to be placed on dozens of editorial playlists, nor do they need to pay influencers to promote their music,” Taylor added.
The report underscores the growing use of social media for music promotion. A separate study by US market monitor Luminate (formerly MRC Data / Nielsen Music) revealed that half of music listeners in the Asia Pacific region discover new music through social media platforms like TikTok.
Cinq Music Group’s repertoire has won Grammy awards, dozens of Gold and Platinum RIAA certifications, and numerous No.1 chart positions on a variety of Billboard charts. Its repertoire includes heavyweights such as Bad Bunny, Janet Jackson, Daddy Yankee, T.I., Sean Kingston, Anuel, and hundreds more.
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