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What we can learn from the queen of short-form content 💁‍♀️

790 TikTok videos by Tate Mcrae analysed, you're welcome!

Hello again!

It has been some time since my last newsletter. I've undergone a rebranding effort to place a greater emphasis on content and digital strategy supported by data, rather than have data take the forefront. The key insight I've had is that I'm doing this purely for enjoyment and to satisfy my curiosity, sharing this with whoever subscribes is just a nice bonus. 😌 This is the primary reason why I won't be committing to weekly newsletters but instead will share more spontaneous thoughts as they occur to me.

While my passion for the music industry remains strong, I'll also be dedicating some time to analyzing the publishing industry, which encompasses (audio) books and podcasting. If this doesn't interest you, please participate in the poll below. If you choose not to take action, you will continue to receive all content.


Today, I'm excited to dive into why the old-school way of selling your music on short-form content platforms doesn't cut it anymore. It might sound like common sense, but I still see artists doing it all the time.

Now, let's talk about an artist who gets it – Tate Mcrae. She's the ultimate short-form content queen, effortlessly weaving TikTok into her album promotions. Her latest album, 'THINK LATER,' is a prime example of this seamless integration.

So, where do you start?

To dig into this, I had to lay my hands on all of Tate's videos and check out how they were doing. While I couldn't access her account's analytics directly, I could scrape all her content and find out the play count, like count, share count, comment count, and save count. These stats provide a pretty good idea of;

1) Which content managed to reach a larger audience on the platform?

2) Which content generated more engagement, regardless of how many people it reached?

I managed to collect a total of 790 videos that were posted between 2019 and 2023. Given how TikTok constantly evolves and considering Tate's remarkable growth, I thought it best to analyze these years separately to ensure a fair comparison.

Posting rhythm

I first looked into the timing of when content is being posted and how frequently this is done.

posting frequency of Tate Mcrae in 2023

As you can observe, Tate increased her posting frequency approximately 18 weeks before launching her second album. In the weeks leading up to week 31, she typically averaged between 1 to 4 posts per week. However, starting from week 31 onwards, there is a noticeable uptick in posting frequency, with occasional peaks of up to 16 posts per week coinciding with new music releases.

This strategy underscores the significance of consistently engaging with the TikTok algorithm and rekindling the interest of your follower base in anticipation of a music release.

Engagement on TikTok posts

To create a comprehensive engagement metric that considers comments, likes, saves, and shares, I calculated the mean of each of these metrics per year. This approach takes into account the evolving TikTok algorithm and Tate's expanding reach over time. Next, I combined these four engagement values into a single metric and scaled (normalized) it to a range between 0 and 1.

It's easier to just hit the like button on a video, whereas sharing, commenting, or saving a post requires more effort. 👀

That's why I'm comparing these higher-effort forms of engagement to likes in my visualization below.

showing the engagement and like ratio on all videos posted in 2022 and 2023

“OUT (OR BUY) NOW” just doesn’t cut it anymore…

Today, my goal is to demonstrate, backed by data, that posting content with a strong sales call-to-action (CTA) may not necessarily result in high engagement.

The graph below illustrates that posts with higher placement in the upper right corner generally received greater engagement.

engagement and like ratio on videos posted in 2023

What I’ve observed is:

  1. Duets or stitches typically receive below-average engagement.

  2. Videos with a clear sales Call to Action (CTA) also tend to perform below average. For example, "woke up to being on the cover of Today's Top Hits" falls into the lower left corner, yet it had one of the highest play counts among all videos in 2023.

  3. The worst-performing posts, when looking at engagement, were ads with Amazon….

  4. Sales CTA related to touring seem to have a higher engagement than sales CTAs related to music.

  5. REACH ENGAGEMENT. Some of the posts with the most plays ended up in the lower left quadrant. Think about what your goals are, engagement might be more valuable than reach…

So what did work?

Videos that occupy the upper right corner tend to be either;

  1. Unveiling or teasing snippets of new music.

  2. These videos prominently showcase Tate in the foreground as they reintroduce music in a way that resonates with the audience. While the music is at the forefront, there's no explicit sales call-to-action (CTA) included. Instead, these videos are skillfully edited, incorporating lyrics that connect with the audience and capture a specific mood or sentiment.

Curious to hear your opinion on what does and doesn’t work on TikTok, and how you’re measuring engagement. Feel free to let me know by replying or hitting me up on X.

👩‍🏫 I also enjoyed reading these articles lately:

👉The first collaboration between 2 music models - 3LAU AI x GrimesAI: https://bit.ly/48L5VA0

👉Anticipating the future of music and media: https://bit.ly/47DO7Wa 

👉Luminate year-end music report: https://bit.ly/3tUlKW4

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