How To Make A Viral TikTok Song

How To Make A Viral TikTok Song

Monday, August 8, 2022

by  David Olayiwola  David Olayiwola

 TikTok has increased in relevance as a marketing channel for brands across diverse industries. Outfits like Chipotle (Restaurant), NBA/Euros (Sports), Red Bull (Beverages), and RyanAir (Airline) have established significant presence & ran exciting campaigns on the video-sharing app. These brands are incorporating TikTok into their overall social media marketing strategy due to the platform’s growth and acceptability.

However, compared to any other social app, TikTok’s relevance to the music industry is relatively the most pronounced. This is so for two reasons: First, Music is the lifeblood of TikTok — videos need soundtracks for their full expression. Secondly, the demographic that the platform attracts (Gen Z/Millennials) is the core audience of many industries, but most especially the music industry. 

The following statistics underline TikTok’s symbiotic relationship with the music business:

  • 75% of TikTok users say they discover new artists through TikTok.
  • 63% of TikTokers heard new music that they’ve never heard before on TikTok.
  • 67% of TikTokers are more likely to seek out a song they heard on TikTok on a music streaming platform.
  • 72% of TikTokers agree that they associate certain songs with TikTok.
  • Lastly, Over 175 songs that trended on TikTok in 2021 charted on the Billboard Hot 100, twice as many as the previous year.


Consequently, it is not out of place that TikTok has become an important aspect of many artists’ marketing strategy. 

Strategies like dance routines and influencer marketing are crucial to Tiktok success. However, adding certain elements to the creation and presentation of the song itself, can increase the ROI of any campaign.

Some of the elements of a potential TikTok Hit are:

1. Music That Makes A Good Soundtrack.

As stated earlier, TikToks need sound for their full expression, hence songs that will be a hit on the platform has to be a great soundtrack. Music supervision expert, Unique Oliver once said, “In selecting music for films and games, ‘broad’ music – with lyrics that are not too specific and can be used for a lot of contexts – works best”. This loosely applies to music for TikTok, too. Some of the biggest songs on TikTok contain lyrics that fit into a wide range of scenarios. The relatability of these lyrics in several contexts aids the song’s acceptance on the platform.

Popular examples of these are Black Sherif’s “Kweku The Traveller(Who Never F**k Up, Hands in The Air), Joeboy’s “Alcohol,” (“That’s why I drink my alcohol”), Zinoleesky’s  “Loving You”, and Barry Jhay’s Kabiyesi.

NOTE: This doesn’t imply that these songs will be great for movies.

Black Sherif’s “Kwaku The Traveller” was a big hit on TikTok
2. Duets

 Duets can be explored in several ways. Songs that have some form of dialogue in them provide an opportunity for duets e.g. Olamide’s “Rock” and Ladipoe’s “Know You”.

An “Open Verse Challenge”, where fans can add their verse to a song, is another way to explore duets,. An example is Russ’ “handsomer” #OpenVerseChallenge where one of the entries was so good, it was made into an official remix. The remix aided the song’s success, peaking at no. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Artistes like John Mayer & Kato On The Track — two of the most duetted artistes on TikTok last year (US) — explored duets by creating backing instrumentation for Fans and aspiring artistes to jump on. One of Kato’s beats eventually became Reyanna Maria’s breakthrough hit “So Pretty”.

John Mayer is one of the most duetted artistes on TikTok

Duets are a great way for TikTokers to collaborate & get intimate with their favourite influencers and artistes.

3. Remixes

Some songs in their original form might not exactly work for TikTok. They perhaps are too slow or just need some extra sauce to be accepted. Adding effects like increased pitch/tempo (Wande Coal’s ‘Gentility’) or creating Mashups (Adele x Bruno Mars – Locked out Heaven/Easy On Me) can up the chances of TikTok success. This is commonly used by Major Labels to give old classics another life (Silhouette Challenge – Paul Anka’s “Put Your Head on My Shoulder”)

As mentioned earlier, incorporating influencer-marketing to amplify songs with these elements yields relatively more success than songs without them. However, artistes shouldn’t force these elements into a song, or even worse, create music solely to go viral. Creativity should not be tampered with in this way. A more sustainable alternative is to create great music and seek suitable ways to market across platforms.

About The Author

David Olayiwola
David Olayiwola

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