How established acts are using TikTok to reach new audiences

The short-form video platform TikTok is largely known for breaking new artists and content creators such as Lil Nas X, Addison Rae, Megan Thee Stallion and Claire Rosinkranz. However, TikTok is also giving established acts and legacy acts a new lease of life. 

Hoobastank and the #NotAPerfectPerson challenge

The American Rock band Hoobastank has largely been silent during the pandemic. With 6 albums, 1 EP and 3 early noughties hit’s under their belt, the band could afford to do it. 

However, despite their decision not to engage in any virtual or live streamed performances during the peak of the pandemic, the ban started dabbling in TikTok after their 2004 hit The Reason began trending on the platform, as part of the #NotAPerfectPerson challenge. 

After the track started trending, the band created their first TikTok, which (as of the time of writing) has more than 3million views. This unlikely success on the platform coincided with the 20th anniversary of their debut album Hoobastank and has served as an excellent marketing tool to make people aware of this milestone. 

In an interview with Forbes, lead vocalist and founding member Doug Robb said, “TikTok is an opportunity to reach a much younger demographic, and as a band, we’ve been looking for an outlet that isn’t so serious. We take our music seriously, but as a group, we’ve never taken ourselves too seriously…this might just be the opportunity to be ourselves.”

Jason Derulo’s Renaissance

By the end of 2019, Jason Derulo had become a 30-year old former pop star. He had split from Warner Bros. and then the pandemic hit. While Derulo was dealing with all of this, he started using TikTok as an outlet. His posts were a mixture of music and comedy. They quickly caught on, garnering the attention of millions of TikTokers worldwide. 

While Derulo was initially aided by Isabel Quinteros Annous, TikTok’s head of music partnerships and artist relations, his dedication to filming new content paid off. He went from an initial 6 million followers in March 2020 to 47.7 million followers in July 2021. 

His success on TikTok trickled into “real life”. He and his team carefully launched four singles on TikTok on his and his manager’s label. Savage Love, the first single, eventually peaked at number 1 on the UK charts and was even remixed by BTS. Not only that – he got picked up by Atlantic Records and is set to launch a graphic novel, a podcast, a vodka line and a book about social media strategy. 

What’s Derulo’s advice for those who want to go viral on TikTok? “Everybody has a different audience, and you have to spend some time to get to know yours. Then, the most important thing is good lighting, and use trending songs because they capture people’s interest instantly,” he told Variety, “Also, start your videos with a close-up — you have literally one second to stop people from scrolling, so what are you going to do with that second? Quick cuts keep people’s attention.”

Bowie’s Legacy

Earlier this year, the Bowie estate joined TikTok and the team immediately noticed stronger streaming growth when compared to the same period last year. David Bowie’s TikTok campaign is focused on his iconic looks as well as his music. A lot of people are creating content that revolves around his makeup looks while others are using his songs to accompany their videos.

In an interview with Music Week, head of marketing at Parlophone Anya Du Sauzay said, “The beauty of a platform like TikTok is that it’s as much about the content being created as it is about the artist. That’s how we gauge the success on TikTok, we talk about the number of people creating videos as the marker of success versus the views. 

A creation on TikTok shows that somebody has taken the time – even if it’s a really easy selfie-style video – to actually pick that song, create a piece of content and post it.”

Du Sauzay insists that TikTok is an excellent platform for legacy acts such as Bowie, as TikTok’s demographic is aging up. As of March 2021, teenagers accounted for only 25% of the total users while those between 20 and 29 accounted for 22.4%. Therefore, the fact that the platform is appealing to a broader audience means that there’s a market for legacy acts to retarget existing audiences and reach completely new audiences from all across the globe.

Final Thoughts

On TikTok, legacy and established acts exist alongside new artists. Old hits have the ability to re-emerge and reach younger demographics, while new artists can use the platform to establish themselves and test new tunes. 

Du Sauzay sums up the platform’s ethos perfectly, “As a platform for discovery, TikTok puts all artists on an even playing field. Your execution on those platforms will obviously differ from artist to artist. But everybody can be in the game, whether you’re a new artist or a legacy artist.”


Janelle knows a thing or two about the music industry. Having been involved in the industry since the age of 13, she's now involved in a variety of music-related projects and is always keen to share industry tips 'n' tricks with fellow musicians.