These Five Artists Took Advantage of the Power of TikTok, and You Can Too

TikTok – people either hate it or love it, but there’s no doubt it’s here to stay. This popular short video platform has helped a lot of musicians to worldwide fame – Blanco Brown, Ava Max, Lil Nas X, to mention a few. Why not learn from them?
These 5 Artists Used the Power of TikTok – You Can Too
Urban Klancnik

You could consider TikTok a replacement for Vine, and though it has partly filled the void Vine left behind, we would hardly call it a substitution. Let’s be honest, TikTok is just bizzare. But this short video platform (60 seconds max, though videos are usually under 15 seconds) is very popular with young people. According to TikTok's statistics, 66% of its users are under 30 years old (41% of users are aged between 16 and 24). There are also more women on the platform, the ratio is about 60% in their favor. Over 1B people downloaded the app since 2016 and about half of them are active users. So, yes, TikTok is a big deal and it’s still growing.


Fame in 60 seconds: Tale of Blanco Brown 

TikTok is most famous for its challenges, which often go viral. One of the most famed TikTok stories is the “Tale of Blanco Brown”. After the cowboy Country rapper released his song “The Git Up”, he put up a video tutorial for a strange cowboy dance he had invented. Soon, hundreds started filming themselves mimicking him and posted the videos on TikTok, while millions watched. Thanks to TikTok, the song was already a big hit by the time he posted an official music video on YouTube. 

Blanco Brown did something different – he gave people a funny dance to learn, and it just went viral. But even though it might look like it, he didn’t just appear out of nowhere. Before his success, he wrote music for other artists, so he has a lot of know-how. Besides, he said it himself – he knew even before the release that “The Git Up” was going to be big. He could tell by the way the song was making him feel.

Hundreds of people learned the dance and posted their videos on TikTok. It helped get the song millions of streams on Spotify and SoundCloud.

Lil Nas X: Another cowboy on TikTok

Lil Nas X has a similar story to Blanco's with his song “Old Town Road”. Just like Blanco, Lil Nas went for the cowboy motif and, in fact, released his song before Brown did. In 2019, he put a lot of effort in self-promotion by creating and spreading hundreds of memes, so it was only a matter of time until he was picked up by TikTok users. There the fans started the “Yeehaw Challenge”, dressing up like cowboys and cowgirls and using the song as the background. “Old Town Road” was a huge hit even before it first appeared on radio, much less before the official video came out. And to spice things up, Lil Nas had Billy Ray Cyrus join the party for a remix in April 2019. Soon, every label in the world wanted to sign him, with Columbia Records winning in the end.

Lil Nas X also got a huge following on all social media channels after the "Yeehaw Challenge" on TikTok. He has 3.5M followers on Twitter, 7.9M on YouTube and 1.9M on Spotify.

Ava Max: When girls are sweet but psycho

Ava Max’s song “Not Your Barbie Girl” had been out for six months without making any ripples in the music world, when suddenly, hundreds of women all over the world started to use it in TikTok videos, lip-syncing while dressed as dolls. After the “Barbie song”, Ava released “Sweet but Psycho,” and people again went crazy on TikTok, using the song in the #sweetbutpsycho challenge. Just like with the above-mentioned examples, many fans made lip-sync videos and posted them on TikTok, making “Sweet but Psycho” a huge success before the official video was out. Notice a pattern here? The song hit #1 in 26 countries and rose to the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

“Not Your Barbie Girl” started the trend, and then the “Sweet but Psycho” challenge took Ava Max to global fame.

Ashnikko: “Stupid” challenge, smart strategy

Ashton Nicole Casey, better known as Ashnikko, is another musician who’s extremely popular on TikTok. In 2019, she released the single “Stupid”, a collab with Yung Baby Tate, and TikTok was soon jam-packed with movies of people lip-syncing and dancing to the song. The official video for “Stupid” was released in October 2019, and people have watched it over 18M times in less than 4 months. There’s another quite unusual statistic in Ashnikko's Spotify account. She has “only” 96k followers on the streaming platform, but over 2.4M monthly listeners.

Ashnikko’s video for the song “Stupid” got over 17M YouTube views in just one month after it was released.

Supa Dupa Humble: Success without knowing what TikTok was

In 2017, rapper Supa Dupa Humble released the song “Steppin”, but got no considerable response. Discouraged, he moved on to other projects, when about six months later, he noticed a rise in YouTube views. He also noticed that a lot of people were talking about TikTok in the comments. When he went to see what this “TikTok” even was, he found out that people were doing lip-sync videos of his song, which led to a huge rise in Spotify and YouTube streams.

Supa Dupa Humble had no idea he was so popular on TikTok, until he noticed a rise in YouTube views. “Steppin” now has over 9M views on YouTube.

Because of lip-syncing videos being so popular, TikTok is perfect for musicians looking for new ways to promote their work. People, especially teenagers, are thirsty for new things and love the app. TikTok has actually become one of the most important promotional tools for musicians. But remember, sometimes the biggest enemy can be self-doubt. If you think you have a good idea, you should probably try it, even if it seems silly at first. It might be your ticket to fame.

But just being popular on Social Media isn't enough. You need venues to perform and you can find all of them on Just claim your profile and jumpstart your career.



Cover photo source: Lauren Dunn (Atlantic Records)


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Urban Klancnik

Urban Klancnik

Guest Writer at Viberate
A journalist, writer, drummer, and music enthusiast. Spent the last 20 years destroying his hearing with Metal and Rock and sharing his experiences from some of the biggest festivals in the world.