With over 1.5 billion users, the short-form video hosting app TikTok is a hotspot for all sorts of content, from makeup and dance tutorials to celebrities sharing day-in-the-life content, to musicians using the platform to gain a following.
Many musicians started using TikTok as a way to promote themselves during the height of the COVID pandemic. Though the need to use online promotion has slightly dissipated with the return of in-person events, many musicians have chosen to continue using TikTok due to their found success.
Here are five up-and-coming musicians using TikTok to rise to fame.
Eight-piece band TILAR is a funk-jazz pop-centric group based in Germany. With 69.1K followers on TikTok and a viral video reaching 14.6M views, TILAR creates “high energy and interactive live performances” that are able to shine even through a phone screen.
TILAR is made up of Clara Lucas (vocals, songwriting), Joshua Milo (keys, bass, production, songwriting), Carla Kӧllner (trombone), Wim Schulze (tenor sax), Benni Stanko (trumpet), Tom Glaser (drums), and Philipp Shӓfer (bass). Glaser, Milo, and Lucas met at the conservatory in Arnhem, the Netherlands, while the rest met at concerts and through other bands. Milo produces in-house, creating an atmosphere where TILAR can establish their unique sound on their terms.
So far, TILAR has released several singles, and in 2022, their first album— “Over the Moon.” Lucas has a strong and sweet-sounding voice which is complimented by her band’s energizing sound.
TILAR connects with their audience in an effortless manner, establishing their energy instantly. Getting the audience involved in repeating melodies keeps the energy going. Accentuated by the space theme and silver disco vibe, audience members are transported to a funky and fun atmosphere.
TILAR posted their first Tiktok in April 2020 and found it a “fun way to make creative content that resonates with people.” They enjoy sharing concert videos, sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes, and exclusive content with their followers. Whether sharing their live performances, practice sessions, video responses to comments, or typical days in their lives, TILAR uses Tiktok in many ways to keep up with the constant content preference changes seen on social media.
As an independent band, with no label, booker, manager, or any other assistance, TILAR has found that TikTok can be an essential and helpful tool allowing them to promote themselves in their own way, rather than relying on “traditional industry channels.”
As for their musical dream, TILAR is grateful for the opportunities they’ve been given and hopes to continue doing what they do while expanding their audience and experiences worldwide.
“We really wanna meet all those people behind the streams and connect with them and go on from there. Let’s see where life takes us,” Lucas said.
22-year-old DAMOYEE is multi-talented – she’s a composer, musician, singer, songwriter, producer, arranger, and recording artist based in Dallas, TX. DAMOYEE transcends genres, dabbling in classical, pop, jazz, R&B, soul, folk, and combinations of the aforementioned genres. DAMOYEE’s ability to surpass typical genres is due in part to the number of instruments she plays, including but not limited to piano, keyboard, synthesizer, acoustic guitar, electric bass, ukulele, clarinet, glockenspiel, bongos, cajon, and djembe.
DAMOYEE began playing the piano at the age of two and released Thankful, her five-track EP, at the age of 13. She’s performed hundreds of live shows, and when the world went into a full COVID lockdown in 2020, she adapted by performing 30 virtual shows right around the time she started her TikTok account.
Three years later, DAMOYEE now has 205.8k TikTok followers. DAMOYEE’s online presence stands out among her peers, as she chooses to focus not just on one or two types of content but on as much as she can produce. From doing her own takes on TikTok trends to sharing “If you like these artists…then you’ll definitely love my song” to demonstrating how she builds her songs starting with a sample, DAMOYEE is constantly using TikTok to produce content bound to pull users in.
DAMOYEE was chosen to be part of TikTok for Black Creatives, a program created by the social media platform. The program works with MACRO to lift up and amplify black creators and their voices. In addition to this diverse program, DAMOYEE uses her platform to advocate for equality, justice, bullying prevention, and non-discrimination all while promoting “peace, love, unity, empowerment, self-confidence, self-love, and self-expression.” She also supports causes, including women’s right to vote.
At only 22 years old, DAMOYEE is already building what has been a lifetime career thus far, using her platform to share her and others’ voices.
DAMOYEE is due to graduate in May 2023 from Berklee College of Music with a degree in film scoring.
Lucy & La Mer
Lucy & La Mer is an LA-based indie project created by singer-songwriter Lucy LaForge. Lucy was studying psychology when she discovered music therapy. She soon began performing and writing her own music. Lucy’s career has quickly progressed from there to now traveling with her baritone ukulele, performing with a full band at LA Fashion Week, World Pride NYC, The Rose Bowl’s Rose Festival, and CMJ Music Marathon.
The group started the “Love Is Gay” annual benefit festival, a concert of queer artists and vendors who raise money for the LA LGBT Center. Lucy and La Mer also caught the attention of Billboard and the LA Times.
Her sound is as upbeat as her performance, with Lucy’s vocals only adding to the electronic beats. Lucy is more than just another musician, as she holds a particularly welcoming and energizing stage presence while focusing on community activism. And Lucy feels her audience gives back, too.
“I also have an incredibly supportive and inclusive fanbase. My shows feel more like reunions with friends,” LaForge said, “I’m very lucky to have them.”
Lucy creates varied content for her 33.8k TikTok followers, including how to build a song, make your own vocal booth, and studio diaries. Her TikToks also reflect what she promotes. One of her most popular posts discusses the visibility of bisexual men, a community that is often disregarded. One of Lucy’s missions is to advocate for and promote mental health within the LGBTQIA+ community. Lucy also uses her platform to discuss feeling stuck and the lack of motivation that comes with it. She speaks her truth and encourages others to do the same, something that isn’t always seen on social media.
Lucy enjoys the intimacy TikTok provides, saying, “TikTok is a fun, casual environment where I can be vulnerable and silly with my community. I love the short form video format because it gives everyone a chance to say how they’re feeling and share their life experiences at the moment. It’s much more intimate than other platforms.”
Meagan De Lima
Meagan De Lima is a Toronto-based singer-songwriter who uses her familial background as inspiration for her “heart-centered sweetness and compassion” R&B sound.
De Lima’s grandparents originated from India, and her parents were born and raised in Kenya. Both of her grandfathers were jazz musicians who traveled to India, Africa, and Canada to perform. De Lima partially contributes her early affinity for music to her family. She describes music as a safe space for her as she navigated her youth with mental health challenges and the health battles her parents faced.
De Lima works with producer Mark Pelli to “blend contemporary R&B with acoustic soul that is warm, earthy, and lush.” Her voice is that of a classic R&B singer mixed with her unique sound, as she combines a certain smoothness with a depth that leaves you wanting more.
So far, she’s released eight singles, her most recent being “Queen,” released in 2022. The guitar work in her songs is airy and light, creating a groovy atmosphere to complement her vocals.
With 77.4k followers, DeLima covers classics, including songs by Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Shania Twain. Her contagious and enticing energy keeps her viewers coming back for more content.
DeLima has performed for former U.S. President Barack Obama, the Invictus Games, and opened for Kehlani at Pride. She was also named one of Canada’s Top artists for Social Change in 2021.
Gavin McLeod is a Toronto-based guitarist who picked up his first guitar at eight years old. His first gig was only three years later. With almost 15 years of musicianship, McLeod’s Neil Young classic rock and blues sound stands out among its counterparts. His light and airy vocals have depth, creating a worthwhile and easy listening experience.
McLeod releases entertaining content for his almost 40k TikTok followers, covering The Beatles and Arctic Monkeys, acoustically performing songs he’s written, and sharing clips of live events. McLeod has a YouTube and social media background and decided to make a TikTok account at the beginning of COVID as a “way to reach people.”
One of McLeod’s intentions with his music is to make a sustainable piece of art. Not something that starts off trendy and fades out quickly. He wants to draw people in to listen and watch his content without approaching it in a “sales” way. McLeod has a sense of realness, and his music is not overproduced.
His favorite content to create features soundchecks, preparing for live events, and on-the-road life. McLeod is also planning to use the video platform to promote his forthcoming album.
McLeod is backed by Patrick Mills (guitar), Tyler Dewar (drums), and Joey DePaiva (bass). Together, they have released several singles, including two of McLeod’s favorites, “Long Gone Twenty One” and “The Hollow EP.” They are also releasing a single in June and a record in September— the title is TBD.
One of the great things about social media is the support that can come from its users. TikTok users turned fans have the power to directly support their favorite artists. From comments to likes, views, and follows, the feedback and encouragement artists receive can be enough to start a career.
Keep an eye out for these up-and-coming artists and show them your support!
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