Have you ever heard a song that brought you back to a moment in time that you forgot even existed?
For better or for worse, music and memory share a powerful connection. And brands have leveraged the phenomenon forever with simple but catchy jingles that get stuck in our heads and refuse to leave.
Today, the connection is stronger than ever as music resonates through every corner of our favorite online platforms. And with music recently becoming the most performed activity on social media, many brands are turning to content creators to bring them along for the latest viral moment.
So, is influencer marketing the key to rockin’ ROI for your brand? Let’s find out.
What does influencer marketing for music look like?
A music influencer can be any creator who incorporates music into their content, or promotes, reviews, or discusses anything related to the music industry.
These creators don’t need to be top-tier musicians. In fact, most of them aren’t.
While some music influencers go on to have careers in the industry, most are just having fun by mixing their favorite songs into their posts. That type of content tends to be what resonates best with social media audiences and is what brands should zero in on when getting started with music influencer marketing.
Who can benefit from influencer music marketing?
Record labels have increasingly turned to creators to promote new and established artists looking to reach a broader audience. TikTok and Instagram are each home to massive music libraries users can pull from to include a soundtrack for their content. And partnering with a creator who knows how to combine music with the latest viral trend is often the quickest way to a chart-topping hit.
“Music marketing on TikTok is huge. It’s a big way that labels have brought artists into the spotlight the last couple of years. It’s also a big way that creators have made a lot of money.”
— Montford Agency Founder Jesse Callahan, via Business Insider
Music creation platforms
Music creation platforms like Fruity Loops, Adobe Audition, and Soundful can partner with creators to help inspire the next generation of music producers. While it can be intimidating for new users to experiment with complicated production software, creators can provide detailed how-tos and demonstrate studio-quality beats made on their home computers.
These platforms also have a great opportunity to source user-generated content (UGC) by asking to hear their fans’ hottest tracks and posting them on their main account or website.
Instrument and accessory retailers
Musical instrument and accessory retailers have a couple of different options for partnering with creators.
They can get their merchandise into the hands of an expert who can showcase their full capabilities and really make the product shine. Or, they can partner with beginners who can take their audience on a journey and inspire them to learn a new instrument, too.
Either way, musical instrument and accessory retailers have a golden opportunity to create a memorable experience with their products by leveraging creators.
Music education services
Music instructors and education services can generate awareness and social proof by partnering with creators who are ready to go beyond TikTok and Instagram’s music library and start creating tunes of their own.
Online schools often partner with established musicians to help lead the courses and give students a chance to learn from the artists they love.
Musicians are in a unique position to capitalize on music influencer marketing through any of the avenues listed above. They can also take matters into their own hands and promote their work by directly reaching out to creators for collaborations. This has been a popular strategy for larger artists for a while now but is starting to become popular with smaller indie artists, as well.
Which platforms work best for music influencer marketing?
TikTok influencer music marketing
TikTok’s algorithm has made it realistic for creators of any size to go viral on the platform. And as a Gen Z hub, it’s the perfect space for the music industry to reach a younger generation that prefers music influencers over any other type overall.
The vast majority of TikTok’s viral moments are born from its Commercial Music Library—a pool of over 150,000 pre-cleared, royalty-free tracks sourced from emerging artists and top-tier music houses. The library is available globally, and each song is fair game for ads and promotions.
Keep in mind, if you venture from the Commercial Music Library, be sure not to use any music you haven’t paid for. Doing so is a copyright violation and could result in a lawsuit depending on whether you made money from the track.
Instagram influencer music marketing
Like TikTok, Instagram has a massive library of tracks users can use for their Stories and Reels. This has proven to be a great way for creators to engage audiences and introduce them to new artists. Plus, with Instagram’s recent emphasis on Reel content, adding music to short-form videos can go a long way in getting your content discovered.
That said, Instagram does have some limitations on the amount of recorded music you can include in Live broadcasts or videos. Here are a few guidelines to consider:
- Music in stories from traditional live performances at a concert or event is allowed.
- The more full-length recorded tracks in a video, the more likely it is to get taken down.
- For that reason, it’s always safer to stick to shorter clips.
- Stay away from recorded audio as the primary purpose of the video and always include a visual element.
YouTube influencer music marketing
To keep pace with TikTok and Instagram Reels, YouTube released YouTube Shorts in 2021 as its own short-form vertical format. With Shorts, users can pull music clips from millions of videos uploaded on the platform and create content similar to the viral trends on TikTok and Instagram.
While Shorts aren’t as popular as Reels and TikTok videos, YouTube is the ideal spot for users who want more music than short-form clips can offer. In fact, YouTube’s top five videos of all time are each music videos with more than 36 billion combined views.
Aside from checking out full-length tracks, YouTube is the perfect environment for creators to react to new trends that pop up around a song or artist. Its long-form content is also invaluable for creators who want to showcase a brand and its product through tutorials, FAQs, or any other educational format.
YouTube uses a rigorous system called Content ID to help protect artists’ work and crack down on the illegal use of copyrighted content. One of three things can happen when Content ID flags a video:
- The video gets blocked.
- The video gets muted.
- YouTube monetizes the video by running ads against it and sharing revenue with the copyright owner.
Twitch influencer music marketing
Twitch is traditionally known for gaming live streams, but it’s also a place where music creators can share their art, build a community, and engage with their fans.
Twitch’s popularity with musicians took off when the pandemic paused all in-person concerts and events. As a result, many took to the streaming platform to host virtual gigs, hold Q&As, and share their latest releases.
But music industry folks also use Twitch as a way to escape their day job and do some gaming. Artists like Post Malone and T-Pain are regulars on the platform and have leveraged it as a way to reach a broader audience.
If you’re looking to play music on your own stream, be sure to take advantage of Soundtrack—a vast collection of songs cleared for worldwide listening on any live Twitch channel. With Soundtrack, creators can add an extra layer to their content while opening up a new way for the Twitch community to discover artists.
What content works best for music influencer marketing?
Music is commonplace in the vast majority of short-form social media content like Instagram Reels and Stories, YouTube Shorts, and TikTok videos. Whether users want to turn their followers on to new artists or just inject some personality into their content, catchy tunes have become virtually synonymous with short-form videos.
TikTok Duets allow users to post a video side-by-side with another creator. These collaborative posts are easy to produce and have given us some of the platform’s most hilarious and wholesome moments.
For the music industry, Duets are perfect for spreading awareness for a new release by creating shareable content that encourages follower engagement. It’s also a fun way to let their fans be the co-star by showing off their pipes next to the artist.
@addisonre @theonlywatson #dancealone ♬ Dance Alone – Watson
Everyone is familiar with TikTok dances by now. The trend has racked up billions of views collectively and has even launched careers for some lesser-known artists.
TikTok dances won’t make sense for every brand looking to get into music influencer marketing. But if it makes sense for you, getting your music or product involved with creators who know how to move it could be your ticket to the top.
@isabellatornell My all time favorite song #lastfridaynight #fyp #fördig #foryoupage ♬ original sound – Luke
Lip syncing to popular songs is another way TikTok creators have found to rack up massive amounts of video views and engagements. With very little lift on the creator’s end, this trend proves that a catchy tune combined with a likable creator can be all it takes to create a viral moment.
And the trend doesn’t stop with music. Lip syncing is also popular with movie and TV show dialogue or any other kind of words you can play around with.
In 2018, rapper Drake teamed up with gaming superstar Ninja for a Fortnite session that set the record for most viewers on an individual Twitch stream. With so much overlap with the music and gaming industries, Drake and Ninja proved that a partnership between the two can equal a massive audience.
Examples of some of the most viral music moments
‘Dreams’ gets fresh juice on TikTok.
@420doggface208 ♬ Dreams (2004 Remaster) – Fleetwood Mac
Even if you weren’t totally familiar with TikTok at the time, you probably still heard about one of the smoothest “morning vibes” of all time.
Nathan Apocada’s 2020 cranberry juice breakfast and longboard commute to the tune of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” was one of the first mega-viral TikTok moments and revealed the impact TikTok could have on the music industry.
Not only did the 22-second clip vault Apocada to internet stardom, but it also breathed life into a song released nearly a half-century ago (not to make anyone feel old).
Just one week after posting the video, “Dreams” had its biggest streaming week ever and hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Ocean Spray was pretty happy with their cameo, too, and showed its appreciation by gifting Apocada a new cranberry red pickup truck fully loaded with juice bottles.
A new generation of Kate Bush fans
@kristenncruz Song is about wanting to swap places to know the other perspective #runningupthathill #katebush #strangerthings #singing #singer #sing #viral #trending ♬ original sound – kristenncruz
Unless you grew up in the 80s, you probably wouldn’t have been able to name a Kate Bush song before watching Season 4 of Stranger Things. But thanks to the Netflix hit and big social media boost, Bush’s 1985 track “Running Up That Hill (Deal With God)” became the song stuck in everyone’s head for weeks.
In June 2022, the track became Bush’s highest charting single of her career and inspired thousands of TikTok creators to make content around a song that was virtually unknown just days before.
Drake falls in love with creators.
A partnership with Ninja was only the beginning for Drake. The rapper has continued collaborating with social media stars and recently featured 23 creators in a music video from his new album.
The beauty influencer co-stars in “Fallen” each play one of Drake’s 23 wives in the lighthearted video. The rapper gives each one a shoutout at the end and includes their Instagram handles at the bottom of the screen. Not bad exposure for a video with already close to 15 million views on YouTube.
‘The Anxiety’ kicks in.
@patrickrenna Oh, you thought we were done? #dance #meetmeatourspot #fypシ ♬ Meet Me At Our Spot – THE ANXIETY & WILLOW & Tyler Cole
There were at least a few solid months where you couldn’t get on TikTok without hearing “Meet Me At Our Spot” by the Willow Smith and Tyler Cole duo The Anxiety. The track became the platform’s 2021 song of the summer and had creators from all walks of life putting their spin on it.
Key takeaway: Leverage music influencer marketing to tap into social media’s hottest commodity.
Adding music to your social media posts is the quickest way to inject some personality into your content. And for the music industry, partnering with creators can be the key to reaching new audiences and helping your brand and products top the charts.
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