With all the trends and dance challenges, there is no denying the power of TikTok in the music industry. So many young people are trending songs by posting their videos with certain music (both new and old) in the background. How then do you take advantage of this incredibly popular platform? Bree Noble sits down with BrandMan Sean to discuss how we can use TikTok as a music 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. Don’t miss out on this conversation to learn more about navigating TikTok.
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A Guide To Promoting Your Music Through TikTok With BrandMan Sean
I am so happy to be here with Sean Taylor from ContraBrand. I have been watching some of his YouTube videos, TikToks, and course material. I feel I know him already, which is always fun. I love that about being able to learn from people. I feel like people come to me and say, “I feel like I know you because I have tuned in to your show for years.” That is something that is fun about the internet. We have never met, but I would love to know a little bit more about your background, Sean if you could let us know how you got into working in the music industry and, how you started your online persona, brand, and how it grew to where it is.
I am one of those people who never ever saw themselves in the music industry. I started off more on the tech side. I went to be a computer programmer for college. That is where I went to be, then I ended up more on the computer information side and worked in this tech startup world for a while. The way I got into music was me helping out some friends who were artists for fun. They were throwing events around town, trying to build their brands. There were also some DJs in the group. I was the one guy who did not want to be seen. I will just help do all the things in the background.
I always loved business, entrepreneurship, and the idea of it. I am probably from the last generation before the entrepreneurship was sexy, but still in the ‘90s. It was not all the way there yet. Now everybody is in the magazines and wants to be an entrepreneur. I knew back then, even though my mom was like, “You are going to be a big corporate guy.” I was like, “I am not going to be a big corporate guy, not that way, not the traditional school route.”
Combining that and me always taking the business approach to things, I started to feel in the marketing space because that was a big need that was required. Long story short, I ended up coming up with this cool festival concept. As a group of friends, it was going down the line. It is your turn for an event. It got to me like, “Sean, what do you want to do?” I am like, “I do not know. I am not here to be an artist or anything.”
I came up with this 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.
To me, that was my art form. I was always an artist, but not that type of artist, the new musician. I have already always seen the world in architecture. That event went well. Word of mouth was crazy for it. I ended up doing it again because word of mouth was so crazy. Eventually, people started finding out who was the guy behind it because it became a big platform for artists in the city. It was done so officially. It felt like an event from some legitimate festival. On the other end, it was like me self-funding it. For the first one, I probably spent $1,100 max.
There was no marketing spin at the beginning. I was hacking social media, not even thinking about all the stuff I was doing at the time. Funny enough, even branding-wise, I was doing everything I would do now. It was my time to do an event, I thought more of a party, but I had this big vision. When I finally found a space that I thought could fit the vision of what I wanted to do, I was like, “This place is too big to just bring out 100 people. I have to bring out way more people. I can’t attract that many people.”TikTok is a space for all. Click To Tweet
I was not some connected guy where I could maybe bring out 1,000 people off of the strength of my name or throw parties. I have never thrown a party, even a birthday party for myself, before. I was like, “I have to call it a festival. Festival sounds bigger.” Everything snowballed from there. Because of the way it was done, it became a good platform for artists. They wanted to know the guy or the people behind it. They thought it was my friends because I was so behind the scenes and wanted to talk to people.
Eventually, people figured it out because my friend was like, “It is that guy.” I started helping people out, giving them my advice. The next thing you know, I am like, “I do not want to talk to all of you all the time, especially answering these same questions over and over again. I will create some YouTube videos and put them on YouTube. Everything starts going viral from there essentially over time.
That is a common story. That is how a lot of times people get into stuff like this. They are answering the same question over and over again like, “I may as well make a video for it.” I have heard that story a lot. That is how people got started “back in the day.” I do not know that that is how people do it now. What do you think? Do you think that people are more intentional about how they start a YouTube channel or a TikTok? It is not that they were doing it to answer some questions that you kept getting over and over again.
It is 100% back. I have observed that because I always saw myself in particular, the most commonly associated in my space. On YouTube, I am like, “I started this thing just for fun.” These other people started it to be a business and saw this as an opportunity. I was first because that was before the opportunity was clear, and I was doing it for fun. I remember being maybe about eight months in. There are always haters in the comments. I remember this one guy specifically was like, “He is just doing this and giving his free advice because he wants you to buy his products or do business with him at some point.”
I was like, “I do not even have a business.” Should I have a business? Should I be selling? I was not thinking anything like that at that time. Candidly speaking, I was pretty deep into music or at least the YouTube side of it, before I even honestly decided to commit myself to the industry. I was still foot in on the tech industry and music. I am like, “There is so much more money over here.” Things made a lot more sense. From anybody outside of the music industry, it does not make sense.
I do not know people in the music industry. Still, so many things to me are like, “Why is it like this?” Why are there so many royalty streams that we do not even know how to collect? There are so many things that I am like, “If someone had designed this from the beginning, they certainly would not have designed it this way.”
There are so many people who are intentional these days. It is cool doing it that way, too. That was not my story. 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.
I have a little similar story. I started my Women of Substance platform, which was an online radio station and then became a show. It was to elevate women. It was not in order to elevate myself in any way or have a lot of musicians then ask me a bunch of questions. That is what happened organically, for sure. When I started my show, I was like, “This is a platform where my goal is eventually to have a program where I help artists, and this is how they can get to know me.”
There was that intention behind it. It was also like I was being asked a ton of questions, or I am seeing artists who have amazing music, but how come no one has ever heard of them? How come I am the only one that is playing their music. That is how it grew into, like, “I could have a business helping artists.” It is a little similar to what you did in 2007. When I started the radio station back then, I did not have any intention of working in this space for several years.
Funny enough, I did not even commit to just music, even when I did the YouTube channel. At first, I am doing these questions due to the artists and making those representations. I like using pop culture to explain the business in any sense. I was like, “I am going to knock out these videos with artists and then I am going to move at some point or at least add more Psychology in general and these other aspects of tiers of business.” I never got around to it. I still have videos. I am sure as a content creator, you have listed ideas that you have never created. You lose that list, and then you do another 100 ideas, then you lose that list again.
Being that, your brand was BrandMan. That clearly was not specifically for musicians, was it?
No, not at first. It was Sean Taylor at first. That was my YouTube channel. It was my name. I was not thinking about any of that stuff. I was on the slide show. You could not see my face. It was like a voiceover. I did not have a Mac at that point. It was just Excel or PowerPoint. I did all my thumbnails in PowerPoint and screenshotted it because I did not know how to do graphics.
How did you move into eventually selling courses and deciding that you are going to serve people in that niche? Other than hearing from that hater and not sparking an idea, what was the first thing that you did that you made money in that space?
The first thing I did was consultations. I could work with people, talk to people, and help them build out their marketing. It was specific or custom. I did not see myself as someone who could create some course. I was not even thinking that deep. I would not even have tried to sell a course at that time. I always sell-off of things that I know and am comfortable with. I would not have built that out and tried to sell that thing. Everything I have done has been about trying to solve a problem. To have the channel, “Let me talk to so many people. People seem like they have problems and they would like my thoughts. I am curious, so I will talk to people and help them. I would go build out a plan and work that way.”Whatever you want to attract is probably a part of you already. Click To Tweet
After a while, I got tired of talking to people. They disappear and I do not know what happens. I make a little bit of money off of these consultations, like $50 or something. Maybe it was $600 max at that time. We were building out a plan. It feels like I am using my time, but I do not have any attachment to the results. I am not clear if I am helping somebody or if I am spending my time with somebody that is going to take it. It was not enough for me.
That was when I eventually built BRANDMAN NETWORK, the backend space which became courses on-demand, subscription membership style. I built it workshop week-to-week where I could talk to people in cohorts and help them through their progress. I helped them think through the topics and processes. That was the evolution of that. That was why I did that. I was like, “We can have a community. I can have a lot more accountability. I can truly help people get progress there.”
At some point, I felt like I was hitting the ceiling knowledge-wise to the ambition that I wanted to be able to help people. That is when an agency came. I did not want to do the agency. I did not want to do the music industry. I fought that for a while. I fought doing any agency for a while. I am like, “It is a lot of work. It is high labor.” As a business entrepreneur person, I have always been a huge business model geek. Before getting into an agency, I recognize that it is a high intense, low margin heavy work model.
I come from TECH II where you will have a company of 50 people selling for $1 billion. I was suddenly so used to different. It was an awakening. I wanted to make sure that what I was doing was day-to-day. I am grinding it out. I understand the problems that I was trying to solve and what I was talking to people about. I partnered with my partner, Jacorey. We built out the agency over the last few years. It is had some pretty major successes. We got to billboard number one, quite a few people going viral on TikTok, or building out their first fan bases, all those cool things that you want to happen in the music industry.
You go through the experience. You see a problem. Even my festival, the concept was built off of me going to clubs because I was still pretty fresh in a college-era at that moment. I would go to clubs, then by maybe the end of sophomore year, I was like, “These clubs are always similar and not too stimulating. People are just standing around.” I went to the Art World in Atlanta. These guys are so anti-club, but if you go, it was like, “This is the same club vibe with art on the wall.”
People still are not engaged. They are not stimulated. That was a part of me solving a problem when I created my event to care about the attendees. Many people just wanted people to show up because you have got your promoter’s fee. You got your door or you are getting your drink money. As an artist, you are getting people to come to see you. I did not have that. I was not in front of the scenes person. I wanted to make sure people had the best time and all my details.
I want to stimulate them again and again in the best way. That is why the event had so much going on. It was an experience. I market it as Disney World for twenty-somethings or something crazy like that. Everything is solving a problem. The things I have in my mind as far as where my company is going is all about “We experience this. This is inefficient. This is not as effective as I would like it to be. How do we go to the next level by solving the next problem?”
That is how you stay in touch with how you can help people. I love that you are community-based. That is something we have in common. I had always had a community since 2015, when I started with a community around women. That is the best way to stay in touch with what they need. You are not the only solution for them. You can bring them together and encourage them to help each other in different ways and inspire each other as well. You are doing that within your community which is awesome.
I wanted to have you on here to talk about TikTok. I have been getting a lot of questions about TikTok and dragging my feet a little bit about getting on TikTok. I have been doing Instagram Reels and stuff like that. When I talked to someone in your company about it, I was like, “I have a bit of an older audience.” How do you feel that TikTok fits for an audience, let’s say, even 45, 50, and over as far as artists? Is that still somewhere that they should be?
People probably get tired of me reciting this stat, but there are over 1 billion people on TikTok. Already that alone, you got to assume that is not all young people. Over 75% of their users have said they discover new artists on TikTok. That is 750 million people, which is over double the amount of people on Spotify. More people are discovering music on TikTok than on Spotify. Out of that 750 million, there have got to be some old people on there. The same thing comes to mind when people say, “Is my genre on there?” Your genre is on there because it is on Spotify.
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.
TikTok is a space for all. We had used grandmas in campaigns before because they were already on there, and they are popping. They have big audiences on TikTok. One of our clients, Macy Gray, has a strong page in terms of her engagement with the people who are involved with her there. Most of those people are from an older generation. They are not tweens at the moment. It is there, then it becomes, “How do you reach them on there?”
Let’s talk about that. What do you encourage artists to look at within themselves to figure out what they should be amplifying on TikTok to bring in the right people for them?
One, you have your music and the substance that it contains. Focus on that. What are your other interests? 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.People who spread themselves too thin never got to as high of a ceiling that gave them the space to create a career. Click To Tweet
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. Where is that point where you switch over from, “I have an audience and I can talk to them about whatever I want versus I need to talk about these specific things because I am trying to attract people to my account?”
That phase can begin as early as you achieve successful formats with those intentional subjects that you choose in the beginning. TikTok is a platform that is built on formats. Everybody’s viral formula is not the exact same viral formula. Overall, you want to achieve the most watch time as possible. You want to get as many replays as possible. Maybe it is a replication-type video. You want as much replication as possible. How you get people there is no different than the fact that there are a lot of different movies and they have a lot of different stories in between. We can go through some common tour threads, but the style that which those stories are introduced is different. TikTok is a storytelling platform.
The format is what you need to understand first. If I am doing covers, covers are successful, but what is the style of cover that works for me? The most common example that I like to use is a guy said, “What if this song?” and he will play the song. He will take a popular song and change it to R&B. That format worked well for him. Once you have that format, let’s say your own format for doing covers, that is cool. People will post another video and say, “Nobody wants to hear me do play my original music or talk about makeup.” It is not that. TikTok is built off of the formats and you mastered this format. If you did another cover in a completely different style, that other cover probably would not do as good as well.
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 look at the format as a series. It is like, “I am doing this format of what if this song was done in this style.” That is a format for me, then I would do a whole bunch of those. You do not want to just do that because then people will get bored. You have to add another format. Is that what I am hearing you saying?
Yes, but I had to add the caveat that we get bored with ourselves usually before. You probably want to go past your threshold a little bit more and remember that other people do not see you yet. You could triple down on one single format and just be doing covers or whatever you choose before you try to decide to explore something else and do it until you get to the hundreds of thousands and even millions, depending on how far you want to go with it.
Not everybody is going to see every single one of the ones that you do. I am following somebody and every single TikTok that I see that she does is skit style. Every time I am like, “This again?” You do have to change it up a little bit. Otherwise, people are going to be like, “It is another skit.”
That is over time, though. That threshold is a little subjective because we experienced this with anybody who is big in general. The more people, “I mastered this format in my comedy or whatever I am doing. I got my early adopters. I start to find my space in this formula. I got to keep doing this for the masses and all these new people are coming in while the old people are, ‘I have seen that already’ and wanting to move on.”
How do you add layers throughout? That is a common problem. That is always going to be the thing, no matter what you are doing. Even before TikTok and social media, how do you continue to add other layers to your brand to make sure people continue to be interested? I would not say that that young lady has no chance to keep you interested. It seems like you are watching her enough. You are saying, “This again?” It might be time for her to start experimenting with those other formats.
This is truly the difficulty. How fast can you get another hit? Whether you are creating music, whether you are creating a TV show, it is like, “I have my one. Now I got to spend attention to make my next plate spin.” We know the stories of the people who rely too much on that one. They had a moment in time versus a career. We know the people who spread too much too thin, and they never got to as high of a ceiling that gave them the space to create a career. It is hard to answer that from a general blanket statement, but it is a problem of the ages.
It is a balancing act. Are there particular formats of TikToks that work well for music artists versus the average TikToker?
This is so crazy because I see this on TikTok and so much more intentionally than it used to be. It was something that I have marketed. I have a video on YouTube talking about doing covers and the best way to do covers. That market broke down a lot of how people find successful covers on TikTok, which is simply switching up the style or creating an element of surprise.You can attract an audience and get yourself in an algorithmic hole that is hard to get out of. Click To Tweet
That is, “I am an R&B artist singing this country song. Either I am making this country song R&B or I have established an R&B audience, and I surprise them by singing the country song that they do not expect me to sing. I do it even in a country style. I use the element of surprise. I am this young kid who has this big voice that people do not expect. I am this young, white girl who is singing this hood, hardcore rap song,” so there is always this polarization of un-expectation. I am rapping the lyrics like them or I am taking those lyrics and singing it, and I just do not fit the space in the face that people would imagine when they first hear it.
However you can do that, I could change it into EDM. I could change it from EDM to another genre. I can add lyrics to a song that does not have lyrics. I can take a song that was done from a female’s perspective and create a male response, and add to the story. It is providing a different POV of the exact same thing that already has success. That is one of the best ways when it comes to covers or using some remix of what is already done, even when it is a trend. It does not even have to be a cover. You take what people already know and add a different POV.
With TikTok, is it important to hop on whatever the trends are?
You can use trends to accelerate some attention to yourself at times, but you can easily accelerate the wrong attention. People say, “There is no such thing as bad press.” Personally, the verdict is still out on that. You can attract an audience and get yourself in an algorithmic hole that is hard to get out of. I went viral for some trend, everybody followed me, and I never wanted to do anything like that. I barely even know why that video went viral in the first place.
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.
That is good to know because there is something in me that wants to not do the trends. I do not want to have to be constantly keeping up with the Joneses. Do you know what I mean?
That is why on I stopped doing my YouTube channel to a certain extent. I did it, but at a certain phase, I was using a lot of popular artists because I was interested in and I felt that was a great way to communicate. After a while, with new music and all these new artists popping up, some of them I was not even necessarily interested in. Some people wanted to hear more news-like stuff. That news thing, I was like, “No.” My whole life is dictated by what else is being talked about. I have a problem spending a lot of energy and time on something I do not even think is relevant like, “This is so stupid. Why do I have to talk about it?”
A trend would be the same thing. It goes back to what we said. Talk about the things that you want to put out. When I started my YouTube channel, I saw more than anything. You attract what you put out. My wife had to say the obvious to me. One day I was in a car, and she was driving. We are going scrolling through my DMs.” I am like, “Why do these people keep asking me these questions? They do not even know me.” She was like, “Is not that what you talk about online?” I was like, “ Yes.” Early on, I am like, “Why do they keep asking me these questions?” What you put out is what you get in this era with the algorithms, especially.
What you said about the news is funny. I feel the same way. I go on TikTok and see all these people talking about whatever the newest music industry news is. I am like, “Do I have to do that? I do not want to do that.” That stuff does not interest me. I want to be more outside of the music industry. When you go in there and you see what people are doing, you have this feeling of like, “I need to do that.” How do you find inspiration for what you want to do without feeling like you have to do what other people are doing?
One, start with content that inspires you, something that you would like to know or see, and then two, do not limit your examples and inspirations to your space. I had a content workshop to help artists with music videos and things like that, where I explained that you do not have to look at the other rapper, the other pop star, a country star that is similar to you and try to do that. You can look outside of the space and bring something new into the space. You are a country artist. You are looking at what the rappers are doing. You figure how to integrate that into your space and voice.
You are differentiated from your own lane. Because you are in the lane, you have to figure out how to separate yourself and be of your own in that lane, looking at other spaces and content. When it comes to creative, I did a lot of creative direction earlier on. I was in more music, the artist side of me. I would look at anything from Japanese game shows to everything like soft rock from the early ‘80s. Rock has a lot of cool, interesting ideas and the way they approach their videos.
I would look at commercials. Dove has this series of commercials that I always refer back to. It is a commercial about beauty. They did a lot of a whole series, but one of them was about beauty. It would be this guy who is the sketch artist if you are trying to identify a criminal or something. He is sitting and asking you how you look and describing your features. He would draw everything you say. He would ask me, “Sean, how does Bree look?” I would describe your features and he would draw both pictures. The way you would think you look would be way uglier than what I would say.
It is an interesting thing. It is a great series. How can you relate that type of conversation and that positioning of that concept to your audience? There are so many ways you can take those type of ideas and bring it to your own audience. I have done that with many things, and you can do that with your own content. Do not be inspired by just the people in your lane who are already doing it or think that that is the way it has to be done.
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. That is what people like Kanye do all the time. I was fortunate. I had an artist-driven background. My sister was in ballet. I am the type of guy that I love people who are great at what they do. I do not care if it is a man or a woman or if it is ballet or rapping. It could be plumbing.The formula of innovating: taking things from other places and inspiring that. Click To Tweet
I love when people are passionate and geeked out about the thing they do. I find them interesting. I would see Kanye do certain things that I feel like a lot of people sometimes will be like, “This is so amazing and innovative.” I was like, “He took that and put it there.” He is doing the same thing, but they had never seen the thing ever. I have seen the thing and I know where it was pulled from. It is like being a kid, hearing certain music the first time. The adults are like, “They sample this song or they copy X, Y, and Z.” It is the same thing.
That is the formula, taking things from other places and inspiring that. Most great artists do that. No matter what artists, not even music, just visual or whatever. You will see them having a big hoard of materials they pulled and saved from trips they have taken places, and they build something new out of it. That is truly the formula of innovating. If you grab the things from other places that you like, then you won’t have to worry about being trapped in this box of inauthenticity.
I love that perspective. I have been trying to do that myself. I look at other TikTokers that are not in the music space and things that interest me. How can I pull some of that into the music space? How can I look at what is going on in my space, see the gaps, and where I can fill in the gaps? It is a combination of filling in the gaps and doing the same thing that other people are doing in a little bit of a different way, but also something that is not so out there. Those are things that people will recognize and help you build your audience a little bit at first and then you can go outside the box a little.
You have to be willing not to see immediate success and go through an experimentation phase. It is so helpful because people only come to others for a POV. That is what makes an artist unique. The best artist can mimic how they would see things. I could write a lyric and say it like this person. I could write a lyric and say, “This person would say that.” It is the same way that you can mimic your mom to your siblings or your cousin. They know, “That is how that person talks.” It is their point of view, their way of doing things. That is what you are trying to get out to the world as an artist, especially a lasting artist.
There are some artists that get big songs, but their actual point of view does not connect. They did not put it out there, it might be more manufactured, but they have more trouble lasting. Somebody like you will listen to your stuff and other people in your space also. As a matter of fact, it will be on the exact same subject. Something can happen in music. They will want to hear everybody because they want to hear what you think about it and how you think about it. The point of view is the most important thing out of all of this.
I love that perspective. That is so related to the artist branding. The way I like to talk about it is connection points between you and your audience. Why are they going to want to come and hear your opinion about something? It is because they are interested in your point of view. A lot of times, it is because you guys have things in common. They want to know what you are thinking about that subject because they are going to identify with that.
Some people want to hear a person’s point of view because it validates their point of view. Some people want to hear a person’s point of view because it is different from what they are used to, but they want to open up their perspectives. It is two different reasons to care about someone’s point of view.
I am usually the latter. I like to try to go find stuff that sounds different. I try not to fall into that bucket of people who watch videos to be angry at them. I do not get those people. Those people exist. The important part is they are looking for a point of view.
Some people want to hear a point of view that is going to validate them and make them feel like they are part of a community that thinks the same way, too. There is value to that as well.
There is plenty of people changing the news channels until they finally hear what they want. “This is the one right here.”
Let me ask real quick about hashtags. Are hashtags used the same way on TikTok that they are on other platforms? Should artists be using hashtags in their captions and stuff?
From the standpoint of organization, yes. You can go to a hashtag and find anything that was put under that hashtag. You can create a hashtag around all of your music. #BrandManSeanMusic will have all my music and then #BrandManSeanAdvice will have all my advice. When it comes to helping virality, that is not there in the same way that it was with Instagram, so I encourage everyone that if you use some hashtag, make sure it is highly relevant to what you are putting out and leaving it at that.
If not, you do not have to use any hashtags at all and go viral on TikTok. The hashtag is not the thing so do not have a post with twelve different hashtags. It is not helping you. In some cases, people will look at you a little funny. I had a person use #Ukraine when the video had nothing to do with Ukraine. I was reading the reviews. I was like, “Why would you do this?” He is like, “It is too late.” He tried to delete it after people complained about it, but you can’t edit it. I was like, “I wish you did not do that. It does not make sense.” Keep your hashtags relevant. It will not help you. Do not take Instagram mentality and bring it to TikTok. It is a different universe over there.
What do you think are the main ways that it is different?The best artist can mimic how they would see things. Click To Tweet
One is a hashtag. Keep it 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. Imagine you use a word like cats. All of a sudden, you get shown to a lot of cat lovers and videos about dogs or something. There is crossover but you know what I mean. It could be something far more extreme that there is no relation, but you are telling the algorithm to show you a relevant thing.
That is what you are doing when you are doing irrelevant hashtags and all that stuff. You do not want to tell the algorithm that. When it shows it to people in their relevant space, that watch time is going to be very low. It is not going to be shown to more people. “I do not have any views.” That is what I mean about the hashtag situation. Also, TikTok is built more on the interest graft versus the social graft. The social graph is the social networks.
That is the initial thought that was put out, “You are my friend. I might know your friends. We will probably have similar interests because we are all friends.” Slowly but surely, things snowball from there. We build our friend networks. We see things that are related to people that we know or from people we know. You are like, “Why am I seeing this stuff?” There is no logic from that standpoint.
It is more about what you have trained the algorithm to respond to or, better said, you have trained an algorithm to say, “These are the things that Sean best responds to. Sean will stay on the platform longer if I show him these types of videos.” It does not matter who his friends are. The other social media platforms are like going to school, college, work, your true social groups, and how you think. TikTok is showing you the stuff that you might not tell other people you watch.
It is a little bit akin to a search engine. Google knows what I have searched for, so it is the same thing. It is going to reward whatever it is that you have been watching or looking for and give you more of that.
That is the biggest difference. 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.
We have covered so much stuff. This has been helpful. I hope anyone in our audience that may be thought, “TikTok is not for me. It is for the young people or whatever,” we have convinced them otherwise. Let everybody know here how they can find you on TikTok? How can they find you on YouTube, all that stuff?
Type in @BrandManSean. You will find me on all platforms.
You got that handle on everything. That is fantastic. That is so useful. For the longest time, Facebook was not allowing me to change my page name. I changed it an umbrella brand of Profitable Musician. It was not letting me change my name and it was so frustrating. Finally, we were able to get it to change the name. I am not sure what they had against it.
Somehow it is telling them something that they can have. You know how Facebook is about that. It is frustrating when you can’t have the name that you need to be known under. You are lucky that you came up with something that you got to have across the board all this time. It is easy to find you. I have already connected with you on TikTok.
Thank you so much for all of this advice on TikTok. You have got even way more. We are going to be bringing you in to talk about that to my audience, which I am excited about. Everyone that tunes in to this, try out TikTok a little bit. See what it is like. You do not have to jump into the deep end of the pool. Just be on there. Be on there as a consumer and spend some time there every day, so you know what people are doing, what people are liking, and you are not creating a bubble. Thank you so much, Sean. I appreciate you giving your time to educate our audience about TikTok.
Thank you for having me and everybody. Follow that advice. Hop on TikTok.
- Women of Substance
- Macy Gray – TikTok
- @BrandManSean – TikTok
- Profitable Musician – Facebook
About BrandMan Sean
Sean Taylor, known professionally as “BrandMan Sean”, is the co-founder of ContraBrand Agency, a music-first marketing agency dedicated to building campaigns with artists that lean heavily on utilizing narratives, influencers, and social trends across multiple platforms to build omnipresence within digital communities.
Led by Taylor and fellow co-founder, Jacorey Barkley, ContraBrand first made waves in the industry after working with rapper/singer 24kGoldn, leveraging TikTok to accelerate trends that helped his single, CITY OF ANGELS, to over 200 million streams.
In addition to this work with ContraBrand, Taylor is also CEO of BRANDMAN NETWORK, a social media network tailored for the music industry providing marketing and branding advice for its members. The associated YouTube channel also boasts over 112,000 subscribers.