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This episode about TikTok for musicians was previously published on the Profitable Musician Show.

In this episode, BrandMan Sean talks about how we can use TikTok for musicians as a promotion tool. Sean shares some numbers on its wide reach, emphasizing that anyone—no matter their age group—can still TikTok their way to more visibility. He then gives some great tips and advice on how artists can position themselves as well as format their content to help amplify their brand and music into the world.

Sean Taylor from ContraBrand is one of those people who never saw themselves in the music industry. He went to be a computer programmer for college. He worked in tech startup for a while. He helped out some artist friends for fun. These artists were throwing events around town and building their brands. There were also some DJs in the group. Sean liked helping them in the background.

He has always loved business and entrepreneurship. With a business approach to things, he started to feel the marketing space because that is where he saw a big need. He ended up with a cool indoor festival concept called Adventure Time ATL, now Adventure ATL. The entire concept was to take entire an entire building and make everything feel like its own experience. Every single room, there was upstairs, downstairs. The downstairs felt like this rave basement, with smoky red light you would go in. It was rave-type artists down there. There was an outdoor room where it felt all Neo-soul, and those types of artists were performing in that room. There was an art gallery. We opened up this secret room at the end of the night, and it was this big glow party. It was high stimulation.

The event went well and word of mouth was crazy for it. Eventually people started finding out who the guy was behind it. It felt like an event from some legitimate festival. On the other end, Sean self funded it and probably spent around $1,100. People initially thought it was his friends who was behind it. Eventually people figured out because his friends referred to him as the one who was behind the festival.

Next thing, Sean realized he did not want to talk to all the people all the time and answer the same questions over and over again. He created some YouTube videos and everything went viral from there over time.

Soon he realized that other people who were doing YouTube videos had a business so he started thinking if he should start a business or be selling something too. Sean shared, “It was so organic and largely due to, one, my natural tendency for love of marketing, branding, business, and music happened to come together. Two was seen and done what I had until that point in tech, and comparing it to what I was seeing in music, it was like, “I do not know about this thing. I just want to keep doing this for fun.” I was hard on committing myself and having my life depending on the music.”

Initially, he was just using Sean Taylor and just doing voiceovers on his videos. He did consultations, worked and talked to people and helped them build out their marketing. Eventually, he got tired of talking to people because he doesn’t get any updates about what happened to them. Then, he built Brandman Network, which became courses-on-demand, subscription membership style. He fought doing any agency for a while then built it out with his partner, Jacorey, over the last few years. It had pretty major successes.

Once he sees a problem such as people not being engaged and stimulated, Sean tries to solve it when he created his event. He wanted to make sure people had the best time and all his details. He wanted to stimulate them again and again in the best way. That is why the event had so much going on.

With regard to TikTok, Sean reiterates that there are over 1 billion people on TikTok. There are way more people on TikTok. The interest is there. It is your understanding of how to communicate to your audience, whether that is an older demographic or a genre that might not be as popular. You will see on the front end what the brand is marketing, young or more popular music at first. Those things evolve over time as well because the platform’s maturing. It started in a young demographic, but TikTok as a company does not just want young people on there because they can’t grow as much. They can’t market themselves to families and all these other things.

Sean advises that as an artist, you have to focus on your music and the substance it contains. Your other interests naturally are going to resonate with people who are most like you already. They are only going to get the inside jokes that you get because they saw this movie from whatever era in space. If you figure out, one, how to make sure you stick to a substance in your music and expand on that, do not try to market the song but, “What did I mean when I wrote this song? It had a meaning. It was a story behind it. Share that.

On top of that, you add 2 or 3 different subjects that you like to touch on, whether that is makeup for specific types of events. You can niche down from there or whether that is books, quilting, all those things. People who are not artists and, “I am just quilting.” They have strong audiences. It is how you present yourself as not only an artist if you are an artist, but also find the interest that you do not mind sharing. That is the last thing.

Keep in mind that when you share this thing, you can end up amplifying a message that you might not want to continue to do. It is cool to do that here and there. If you do it consistently, it is going to become a part of your brand naturally. I strategically do not talk about a lot of stuff I know because I do not want to be asked about it. Show the side that you want people to resonate with and that you want those types of people to show up. You have multiple layers. Whatever you want to attract, it is probably a part of you already, and be consistent in that space.

Whatever you talk about, you will attract, so make sure that you want to talk about that thing. You gather a format around the intentional things or intentional subject plus format that works for it after you test through it. What is the next intentional subject and what works through that? You stay consistent with the things that are working and then you go experiment with something else right here and there until you find a format that works for that thing. You decide, “Maybe this thing is not going to work for me.” You find another subject that you want to add on, but it is about formats more than it is about, “I got this amount of many followers.”

You can use trends to accelerate some attention to yourself at times, but you can easily accelerate the wrong attention. You can use trends, especially if you get good at it, and figuring out how to flip that into your voice and perspective in a way that does make sense and feel authentic to you and how you want to represent yourself. Be selective on the trends you choose. We have plenty of people who find themselves growing and blowing up without hopping on a specific trend. It is about feeding the algorithm, the formats that it likes. That format is ultimately dictated by your audience, and the watch time associated with it.

You might copy some of that formula to give yourself some traction so you have enough of an audience. They know who to compare you to. You are positioned, but then you can innovate by bringing things from outside that lane to in that lane.

You have to be willing not to see immediate success and go through an experimentation phase. The best artist can mimic how they would see things. There is plenty of people changing the news channels until they finally hear what they want.

A tip that Sean gave is to keep your hashtags relevant. The way they identify, they can use your captions, what you hashtag more so to inform the algorithm and who you should be shown to. That is the biggest difference between TikTok and Google. It is a combination of a search engine and how Spotify’s algorithm works at the same time. You can have an old video that begins to take off and it almost gets essentially playlisted on the platform.

Find @BrandManSean on all platforms.

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