TikTok is more than just a visual social media channel. While fun, dynamic videos help make your content strategy pop, what really drives virality and success on the channel is the auditory experience. TikTok is all about sounds. Using the right sound, at the right time, can be the difference between your best video sinking or skyrocketing to the ‘For You’ page.
Figuring out how to use popular TikTok sounds, and which sounds work best, can be challenging for social media managers. TikTok trends change fast, and keeping up with trends is a job in itself. In many ways, brands have to rethink everything they know about social media as it transforms into social entertainment, and users scroll through their feeds for entertainment above everything else.
To help you navigate this new era of social marketing, we have put together an all-encompassing guide to TikTok sounds, including what they are, how to make them, and why they’re essential for your brand to stay on top of.
Tip: Read our blog about creator marketing to learn more about the changing field of TikTok creators, how they make careers out of keeping a pulse on trending sounds, and how leading brands are partnering with creators to get an edge on the channel.
TikTok sounds are the auditory cues that users can play during their videos. Short-form videos automatically play with the sound turned on, and your choice of audio plays an all-important role in making a strong first impression in your TikTok marketing strategy.
TikTok has a library of sounds where you can discover new sounds, or listen to your favorites that you’ve saved. TikTok’s Discover section not only features the top trending tags, but also calls out the top trending sounds. Users looking for variations of a particular trend may end up searching for more content related to that sound, and TikTok may also organically serve them trending content as they scroll, which is why taking advantage of trending sounds leads to higher performance on TikTok.
Megan Thee Stallion’s songs had the most catalog views of any artist in 2020 and 2021.
In 2022, the most played sounds didn't belong to one particular artist — these were:
Sounds are directly integrated into the TikTok camera. Once you select the plus button at the bottom of your screen, you will see the “Add sound” button at the very top of the camera.
From there you will see the sounds library, which will most likely be the commercial music library if you are using TikTok for Business (these sounds are royalty-free and can be used commercially).
Additionally, you are able to search for specific sounds in the library, or create content related to a sound once you’ve found it on the Discover page.
You can add sound to videos from your camera roll as well. After you upload your video, you are able to tap on “Sounds” and drag your intended sound from the library or your Favorites into your video.
In this case, it’s harder to sync existing video with an original sound from the library, and most marketers simply use their phones to record TikToks in the moment. It’s easy to record, and audiences on this channel are used to lo-fi footage over staged video.
It can be extremely difficult to keep up with trending sounds, especially for brands that are limited to commercial use sounds only. Enter TikTok Trending Sounds by Dash Hudson. This feature practically eliminates the need for brands to be scrolling through the Discover Page or FYP on the lookout for the top trends. Not only are the trending sounds being monitored and updated regularly, users are also given insight into the length of the sound, how many times the sound has been used, and of course, whether it’s able to be used commercially by brands. Users will have the ability to click on the sounds within the Dash Hudson platform and instantly create a post or favorite the sound for use later on within the native TikTok app.
And the best part? Trending sounds is just one feature in the suite of tools available through Dash Hudson’s TikTok Insights.
Although TikTok has a robust library of sounds to choose from, all viral sounds have to start from somewhere. Case in point: the “berries and cream” earworm that took over TikTok feeds in 2021 originated from a Starburst marketing campaign in 2007. Podcaster Justin McElroy uploaded it as a custom sound to the channel in January 2021, and the sound did not take off until August of the same year.
There’s really no telling which sounds will take off or when, but experimentation, keeping a pulse on TikTok analytics, and being open to unconventional new ideas is key. The following tips will help you get started with creating your own sound on TikTok.
Once you record or upload a video, tap “Next” to go into the editor. From there, you have the option to tap the voiceover button and speak into your phone’s microphone. Once you hit “Save” your content is ready to post.
Voice overs are a great way to narrate your content if you don’t want to use text. For a better chance of having your sound go viral on TikTok, keep it short, sweet, and funny.
You can also add your own music to TikTok by uploading a video that uses your sound. You will need to use a third-party app like iMovie or CapCut to overlay the audio, but once it’s uploaded to TikTok you will be able to use the sound in future content by selecting “Use this sound” or adding it to your favorites.
The best way to make a catchy sound is to keep it short and easy to loop. TikToks play on repeat, and the more time TikTok users spend watching your video, the more likely the algorithm is to recommend your content to them in the future, which is invaluable for your marketing initiatives such as TikTok shopping.
What's exciting about TikTok is how the most popular sounds and trends are always changing. Artists such as Megan Thee Stallion and Doja Cat are mainstays at the top of the charts, however independent artists are also able to find themselves skyrocketing to the top of the charts.
While TikTok does not offer a native option to download sounds, you are able to select “Add to favorites” to save a sound for later and use it in your own videos.
Once you’ve selected a sound on TikTok, tap “Next” to go into the editor. By selecting the scissors icon, you are able to move your selection of the song to your desired length, as well as adjust the volume.
TikTok doesn’t allow you to use two sounds, however you are able to use multiple sounds by taking advantage of your third-party video editing software of choice.
You are able to indicate to TikTok’s algorithm that you are not interested in a particular sound by long-pressing a video, and tapping “not interested” to stop having similar content recommended. After doing this on a couple of videos with the sound, your recommendations should be fine tuned—this tip also goes for all TikTok content.
Duets automatically use the sound from the TikTok you’re doing a Duet with. However, you can use your own sound by using the mic button to turn on your own sound. Then, after you record your video, you can select the “Volume” button and turn the added sound from the Duet all the way down so that only your audio plays.