Step 1: Write a song.
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Influencers find it.
Step 4: Your track becomes a hit.
That second mystery step, the one where your record rises above the millions out there to become the focal point of a viral craze, requires a certain amount of alchemy, but companies like Nashville-based Songfluencer are attempting to make the process more clear and sustainable. By working directly with artists and labels to disseminate music to influencers on Instagram and TikTok, Songfluencers goal is to create easily replicable content that will spread among the platforms' respective users.
“The goal of a Songfluencer TikTok campaign is not to hire 10 influencers,” says co-founder Johnny Cloherty. “That’s the vessel of promotion. The goal is we’re going to hire 10 influencers who will inspire thousands of users on TikTok to use that audio in a visual piece of content.”
According to their pitch deck, Songfluencer artists range from 24kGoldn to Mason Ramsey to Lil Nas X, whose “Old Town Road” spread wildly on TikTok, becoming the gold standard for out-of-nowhere social media success. Songfluencer has several influencers on staff to help come up with ideas that will spread quickly and be picked up around the world.
“A creative concept could be a dance, a handshake, a meme,” says Cloherty. “Everyone wants to launch dance challenges on TikTok because the blogs and articles out there in the music business space [reference those heavily], but there’s so much more happening on TikTok.”
For those who can afford it—"there are some very hard costs associated with doing influencer marketing on TikTok,” Cloherty explains—now is a perfect time to work with Songfluencer. As traditional press like publication interviews or in-person radio appearances have largely stalled, working the social media angle is more vital than ever to get your music heard.
“One of the big things we’ve seen looking at our campaigns from a global standpoint is when we start a campaign after the song is already being picked up a little bit, even the slightest bit—50 or 100 or 200 uses—it perform better,” says Cloherty. “That has really transitioned us into this paradigm of thinking that the artist can do so much on their own to get their music moving on TikTok.”
With people biding their time in quarantine and trying to find ways to be productive, Cloherty urges musicians to establish a TikTok presence and figure out how they can use that particular platform to their advantage. With a $75 billion valuation and the infrastructure of Chinese tech company ByteDance—who also recently launched Resso, a music streaming app—the video making app is here to stay.
“I know every year it feels like there’s another social media app, but TikTok is not going anywhere,” he says.