Music marketers are using TikTok challenges to pay creators based on video performance rather than follower count

  • Music marketers are setting up user-generated video challenges to promote songs on TikTok.
  • Platforms like Pearpop and Preffy let TikTokers who aren’t top influencers get paid for song promos.
  • Participating users earn money on a sliding scale based on the number of views or likes they drive.

Influencer marketing on TikTok has long been a mainstay for the music industry, with artists and record labels regularly paying TikTok influencers to post videos using their tracks. But lately, advertisers are looking outside the app’s top stars when it comes to promoting new songs.

As TikTok’s user base has grown, the marketing playbook has shifted. It’s become harder for any individual influencer to make a song go viral on their own.

Some marketers have branched out, hiring a bunch of less-famous micro influencers over mega stars to broaden their reach and increase the likelihood that a new track will get noticed. And others are cutting out professional influencers entirely, creating music “challenges” that invite users with any size following to get paid on a sliding scale for participating in a song or artist campaign. 

Among those leading the charge are startups like Pearpop and Preffy (owned by Songfluencer), which both launched new platforms this year to let social-media users with as few as 100 fans join an active music campaign. Pearpop and Preffy users are paid based on the performance of their videos rather than their follower count, looking at metrics like number of views or likes. While influencers with large fan bases still participate in campaigns on both platforms, the format opens up the opportunity for less-famous TikTok users to also make money. The tactic helps drive up the number of videos on TikTok that feature a particular song, even if many have just a few hundred views.

“The initial way influencer marketing would work would be you would go and pay a few people with big followings, but it would be like throwing a few big logs onto a non-existent fire,” Pearpop cofounder Cole Mason said. “With challenges, there’s a way to actually start the fire.”

One recent Pearpop challenge promoting Tyga’s song “Splash” helped boost the track from 8,500 user videos featuring the sound to over 100,000, Mason said. Creators who joined the campaign earned between $10 and $80 out of the total $10,000 budget based on the number of views their videos generated.

For comparison, influencers can charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a single video promoting a song depending on the size of their audience. 

A typical song campaign on Preffy costs between $0.03 and $0.05 per one thousand views, said Johnny Cloherty, CEO of Songfluencer, which acquired Preffy in May. A influencer campaign on Songfluencer by comparison rarely drops below $1 per one thousand views, he said. A second music marketer told Insider that the cost of hiring an influencer for a song campaign generally falls between $5 and $8 per one thousand views.

Tyga (a Pearpop investor) recently ran a $10,000 song campaign on Pearpop for his track

Tyga (a Pearpop investor) recently ran a song campaign on Pearpop for his track “Splash.”
Pearpop.

The idea of creating a challenge to drive attention on social media isn’t new. TikTok sells an in-house marketing solution called branded hashtag challenges, for example. But the tactic is picking up steam in the music marketing world.

“As a marketer, the hardest thing to do is to get something going from nothing,” Cloherty said. “Instead of us gambling on, ‘Oh I don’t know if this influencer is going to work, or this influencer might get suppressed,’ there’s a much higher likelihood that their post will over-index because the algorithm is identifying this sound as moving, a thing that people like.”

Source: Music marketers are using TikTok challenges to pay creators based on video performance rather than follower count

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