During the last two years, TikTok has cemented itself as one of the most influential and important players in the music industry landscape. Music artists and creators of various types are now relying on the state of the art personalization algorithms and record numbers of active app users to promote and market their music to a wide audience. As TikTok’s capability to generate virality continues to increase, so does the need to understand the platform's features more deeply and formulate strategies to help creators make the most of their promotion efforts. As a result, we have decided to take a closer look at the famous TikTok’s Duet feature to examine how it can help artists gain exposure and grow independently. We have identified and analysed three separate cases where artists of different sizes have been involved in duets that gained viral traction. The findings and conclusions are presented below.
Ktlyn X Russ
The first case focuses on a duet between a famous independent rapper and producer, Russ, and an upcoming hip-hop artist Ktlyn. She did a duet over Russ’s open verse challenge for his song Handsomer on the 9th of February. Russ reposted this duet on his account on the same day, praising Ktlyn’s performance. In about a month, on the 8th of March, Russ posted another TikTok video where he announced that the “Handsomer” remix inspired by the duet would be released on all streaming services while also promoting the pre-save link for the track. Consequently, on the 9th of April, the song featuring Ktlyn got released together with the TikTok video announcing the release.
As Russ was already an established artist with a substantial following at the moment of the duet post, we wanted to take a look at how it impacted Ktlyn’s streaming stats. On the day of the duet post, she has gained 2200 followers on her Spotify profile, and only within the next two weeks she accumulated around 6600 more.
At the same time, her monthly listeners grew from 29K to 47K during the same two-week period.
Adding to this, on the song release day, she got a whopping 26K followers during a single day.
In a nutshell, we can see that Ktlyn had a particular following on her Spotify before the duet with Russ, with around 29K followers and 28K monthly listeners. This 1k difference suggests that she was going through a slight decline before the duet, and we can observe a clear increase in her followers & monthly listeners after the duet. Most importantly, her Spotify profile continued to grow for a substantial amount of time, and Ktlyn is at 94K followers with 1.7 Million Monthly listeners at the time of writing this article.
Zai1k X Stacey Ryan The second case portrays an example where the TikTok duet feature has been used by two smaller-scale artists.
Stacey Ryan posted a “Don’t Text Me When You’re Drunk” open verse duet challenge on the30th of December, while Zai1k did a duet with that challenge on the 4th of January. In three days, on the 7th of January Stacey Ryan has reposted that duet with a video where she has teased the idea of releasing this song together. On the 10th of Januaryshe also posted a video that promoted a pre-save link for the upcoming release. Shortly after, on the 16th of January, the song was officially out on all streaming platforms.
Now let’s observe the impact of the duet feature on both of the artists’ individual Spotify profiles. By the 1st of January, just 24 hours after posting the open verse challenge, Stacey Ryan had practically 10k followers on her profile. As it can be seen from the chart below, there is a significant spike in the follower count on the 11th of January, being the direct result of the virality of the video and the subsequent pre-save campaign. At the moment of writing this article Stacey has 90k followers which represents a ninefold growth since the beginning of the year.
Monthly listeners A similar trend can be observed when we look at Stacey Ryan’s monthly listeners on Spotify. As can be seen, before the virality of the duet, she had around 20k monthly listeners, whereas the current numbers stand at 465k. The chart also clearly portrays that the moment of growth perfectly coincides with the popularity of the duet and the pre-save campaign for the song.
Furthermore, a very similar pattern is also seen on other social media platforms. We can see the same spike in following after the pre-save campaign and the subsequent growth in both Instagram followers and TikTok likes.
Zai1K Zai1k’s case generally illustrates a similar effect. Before the duet, he had 6k followers, and when Stacey Ryan reposted the duet on the 7th of January, we can see the cross-platform engagement translating into the influx of new Spotify followers. There is also a considerable spike on the 11th of January, coinciding with the pre-save campaign. At the moment of writing this report, Zai1k stands at 51k followers, representing a ninefold growth, an almost identical conversion to that of Stacey Ryan’s.
A very similar progression is also observed with Zai1k’s Spotify monthly listeners. Before this particular duet, Zai1k had around 50K monthly listeners, and at the moment of writing this report, he stands at 730K.
TikTok & Instagram
Zai1k’s social media platforms have also exhibited the same growth pattern over this period: his TikTok follower count grew from 188k to a 1.2million, while his Instagram followers increased from 43k to 94k.
Sadie Jean X Zakhar The third case focused on an independent artist Zakhar duetting the open verse challenge by Sadie Jean: an artist with an already established fanbase. Zakhar did the duet on the 21st of December, while Sadie posted a video with a pre-save campaign on the 17th of May. The song “WYD Now” came out on the 27th of May. Followers The impact of the duet feature on Zakhar’s Spotify follower count has been relatively insignificant in this case when compared to the previous two cases. Despite a positive influx of followers, the numbers portrayed a slow, stable growth rather than a spike that we’ve seen before. Monthly Listeners At the same time, Zakhar’s Spotify monthly listeners definitely illustrate a pattern observed beforehand. He had around 40K monthly listeners before the release, and is at 371k at the current moment. This again shows a ninefold growth figure.
Unlike in the case of Zakhar, Sadie Jean did get substantial growth in her Spotify followers. As mentioned, Sadie Jean posted the song’s pre-save campaign on the 17th of May. She then got around 20K followers only within withe next two days.
In conclusion, it can be seen that the duet feature should be considered an extremely powerful tool that has the potential to generate virality for creators of any size and genre. The three case studies presented in this report strongly suggest that the popularity of the duet results in an unprecedented cross-platform engagement, both on social media platforms and within the streaming economy. Adding to this, the most unique power of TikTok’s duet feature is the ability to convert this cross-platform engagement without relying on heavy budgets and expensive marketing campaigns. In contrast, we are observing a very sophisticated marketing tool, where subsequent reposts about the duet, such as the announcement of the release date and the pre-save campaigns, are getting fed to the same audience who interacted with the original videos. As a result, TikTok’s duet feature allows you to market your song to practically every user who interacted and enjoyed the duet on the TikTok app. This makes the duet feature a very attractive option for smaller and independent artists who want to grow their following but do not have the financial means to do it through traditional media channels. This also suggests that the duet feature is only to become more prevalent within TikTok’s environment, and we are yet to see even more extraordinary results.