Like it or not, TikTok is defining the next generation of up-and-coming guitar players. Social media remains one of the best ways – if not the best – to get one’s talents seen by the masses, and the Chinese video sharing behemoth, with its often-fruitful algorithm, is rivaled by few in terms of enabling its users to accumulate a following.
Earlier this week, guitar giant Fender hosted a panel discussion – dubbed “The #GuitarTok Effect: How TikTok is changing how we create, consume and discover new music” – which saw the company’s CMO Evan Jones and a host of guests wax lyrical on the positive impact TikTok has had on the discoverability of new guitar-driven artists
Other members of the panel included Hollywood Reporter digital media writer J. Clara Chan, TikTok Music Editorial Lead William Gruger, musicians and TikTok content creators Blu DeTiger and April Kae, and music managers Adam Hirsch and Benito Lugo.
The event not only detailed the impact TikTok has had on the music industry in 2022, but also saw its panelists share some advice on how to build a following on the platform.
The key to success, said Gruger, is “showing you’re multidimensional – you’re not just a musician, you’re more than that”. He continued: “TikTok offers a basis of creativity that really is a new format. It is very exciting watching musicians that can follow that language and follow those trends and dialogue.
“Social media has impacted everything when it comes to artist relations,” added Lugo. “Nowadays, we look at artists that can drive traffic through a song demo, as it is an important factor for record labels. We are constantly looking at the data to analyze what is working and what is not.”
From an artist’s perspective, bass guitar player April Kae shared what she feels are the benefits of TikTok as a platform.
“TikTok is so good about finding the people who need what you are putting out there,” she said. “It’s bringing people together around something bigger – and doing that through music, which is something I really love.”
“I ran across a piece of advice recently that [said] your TikToks should be inspirational, educational or entertaining – and now I always have that in my head when I am creating and it has been very helpful.”
As Fender explains in a press release, TikTok has been instrumental in catalyzing viral moments in the world of music. Examples include Olivia Rodrigo playing her debut single Drivers License in a TikTok video in 2020, ultimately turning the track into a smash hit, setting a record on Spotify in only two weeks. The song boasts 1.5B streams on the platform at the time of writing.
And more recently, following the inclusion of Metallica’s 1986 megahit Master of Puppets in Netflix’s Stranger Things, the thrash metal titans took to TikTok to perform a virtual duet with the show’s guitar-wielding protagonist, Eddie Munson.
Such moments are bringing guitar-based bands like Metallica to Gen Z, reinvigorating the guitar’s place in popular culture.
And according to Loudwire (opens in new tab), 58 percent of new guitar players are using TikTok to find guitar-related content, and 60 percent of beginners are heading to the platform to learn new things.
“The face of guitar, just like music, is more diverse, expansive and youthful than ever, and TikTok has increasingly become a destination for artists and creators to share their music, and for new players to learn,” said Evan Jones.
“At Fender, we’re focused on amplifying all of these voices. In particular, on TikTok, it spans everything from performances, jam sessions, duets and product launches to lessons and tips for beginners.
“Above all, we’re focused on putting the artists and creators front and center, and honestly, one of the most enjoyable aspects of our jobs at Fender is seeing the continued expansion of creativity through guitar, bass, amplifiers and pedals in the hands of a whole new generation of players.”
To watch the full discussion, check out the video above.