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How Independent Music Artists Win On Social Media

Updated: Jul 6

Question. How do independent music artists win on social media? We analysed over 1,000 of the most viewed videos on TikTok each with a minimum of 20,000 views and identified 11 different archetypes or content styles that unite these videos. In this post, we'll share our key findings and ingredients of success.


How Indie Musicians Win On Social Media - Free Guide
How Indie Musicians Win On Social Media - Free Guide

The 11 social media archetypes


After watching over 1,000 TikTok videos we identified 11 different archetypes or styles that unified them all. Successful content fulfils one of these roles: You can read a full description of each of these archetypes and discover the secrets behind their winning content by downloading our free guide here.


How Indie Musicians Win On Social Media  11 archetypes
How Indie Musicians Win On Social Media 11 archetypes

What we quickly noticed in our research is that there is no successful archetype called The Indie Musician. For independent musicians to win on social media, drive a large number of views and inspire high engagement, they need to do more than just show up with a clip from their latest music video, or an instrument and ask people to listen and care.


The musicians that do win, take on at least one or two of these established personas. Most typically 'The Entertainer' or 'The Heart Melter'. After all, at the bare minimum, your content must be entertaining to someone other than you and your Mum!


The 5 things we learned from Indie musicians that win on social media


1. Make incredible music

While anyone can create entertaining TikTok videos not everyone can write, record and produce incredible music, and while a funny video may help mask poor music it will only get you so far. The first and most obvious finding from our research is that to win on social media, independent musicians need incredible music.


2. Have one good idea and repeat it

Lots of independent musicians fall into the trap of thinking they need to constantly be posting something new and different on social media every day. When in fact the artists that win on social media have recognised that one good idea, repeated is far more effective. Viewers like familiarity our brains are hard-wired to look for shortcuts and we gravitate to certainty and the things we know and like. So it stands to reason if we watch one video clip on TikTok and enjoy it, we will probably enjoy another one which is similar.


3. The non-traditional performance

There is nothing interesting about another independent musician showing up and playing an acoustic guitar, or sitting at a piano. The artists that win on social media have all identified something unique or different, that makes their performances stand out on social media. @Gabisklar sits and stomps her foot while singing, while @walkofftheearth have become famous for their elaborate cover versions and unusual instruments.

4. Evoke emotion

There is a reason why music soundtracks our films, games and TV shows - music helps convey and evoke emotion, we can all think of scenes from our favourite shows which have been enhanced by music. For example that tear-jerking break-up scene in Friends between Ross and Rachel wouldn't be the same without 'With or Without You' by U2. The musicians winning on social media recognise the power of their own music to evoke emotion. Watch how @JVKE or @Willcullenofficial capture other people's reactions to their music. It's powerful stuff!


5. Cover versions

When you are a new, independent musician very few people know your songs. So a quick and easy way to counter this and attract followers is to share interesting covers of famous or trending songs. Once you have attracted an audience, you can start to add your own original music into the mix and audiences will be much more likely to view it without question of prejudice. This is nothing new, radio producers have been doing it for years to break a new song, they will place it between two famous, successful tracks. The new track literally gets a leg up from the association with the known tracks and grows in its own right. This strategy transformed the fortunes of Hey Ya! by Outkast which originally flopped on radio and caused people to switch channels because it sounded too different.


You can read more about the 11 social media archetypes and the secrets of their success by downloading our free guide now.


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