How Social Media is Shaping the Music Charts

Garry James, Director, Media, 07.01.23

07.01.23 Garry James, Director, Media

The advent of music streaming has changed how we define chart success over the last 20 years. Labels and artists are still working on sustainable revenue models as we move deeper into the digital age of music. As the way we listen to music has changed, so has discoverability, and where once radio play was key, today social media engagement has become the single biggest route to chart success.

Success through user-generated content

Of all the major social channels, TikTok has long been a fantastic tool for artists and labels to promote new music releases. US artists and labels successfully use the tool to reach new users organically – take Meghan Trainor’s “Made You Look” for example. The release of her 2022 TikTok sensation was prefaced with a teaser, and the brand-heavy lyrics meant it wasn’t long before fans were creating user-generated content (UGC) for the track. Trainor encouraged this, even “duetting” with some of her favourite cover versions, thus feeding the phenomenon.

The more UGC out there, the more plays the song has. Trainor’s #madeyoulook generated over 4.6 billion views on TikTok, and the song peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as ranking in the Top 10 in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, the UK, and Vietnam.

But would the track have had similar success without TikTok? Trainor faced criticism and was accused of “making music just to go viral on TikTok,” which tells us something about the power dynamics between social media and the music charts today.

TikTok and Eurovision: the perfect partnership

As evidenced this summer, the trend of using TikTok to promote new music releases has been integral to the crossover success of Eurovision artists. The Eurovision Song Contest, a Europe-wide song competition most recently held in the UK earlier this summer, is at the vanguard of using TikTok to convert cult followings into mainstream listeners. On linear TV, Eurovision has 162 million viewers throughout Europe, and this year Eurovision partnered with TikTok, with the live shows being viewed 4.8 million times via the app.

The top two songs in this year’s competition (from Sweden and Finland) went viral on TikTok before the live final. The virality led to chart success, with both songs entering the music charts throughout Europe. This level of success is not always a given, as the contest has struggled with mainstream credibility for years.

Amplification via social campaigns

After the Eurovision live final was broadcast in May, labels ran targeted paid media campaigns across social media to encourage further listens and downloads of their trending songs. Unsurprisingly, TikTok was a hotbed of activity in this regard, offering popular formats such as promoted organic content (Spark ads) or a custom-created ad spot.

Eurovision’s eventual winner, Sweden’s Loreen, employed a full-funnel marketing campaign for her winning song, “Tattoo.” A promotional campaign is an effective way to generate awareness and results. At Allied, we approach campaigns like this via:

  1. Mass awareness activity - we recommend paid and earned spots across channels including linear TV, radio, and PR efforts to raise awareness of new music.
  2. Consideration tactics - we encourage user-generated content on social media platforms. We recently supported a new music release from the Teletubbies (remember them!?) by encouraging user-generated content on social media and working with influencers to increase reach of key messaging.
  3. Conversion efforts (downloads or streams) - we develop targeted, lower-funnel campaigns across a variety of digital channels, including search, social, and display, to capture new audiences and re-engage users. Meanwhile, awareness and consideration efforts amplify paid media and yield greater efficiency.

Allied supporting new music

We’re proud to run full-funnel campaigns supporting live and recorded music and entertainment. Our team of experts utilises the power of creative storytelling, integrating this into our targeted awareness and conversion campaigns. So whether you are the next Trainor or Loreen, we look forward to helping you bring your sound to the masses. Want to climb the charts with us? Get in touch!

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