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Jun 17 2021

Sound on TikTok: How Brands Can Use Sound to Drive Impact

TikTok has defended its #1 download spot in iOS and Android app stores for over a year. TikTok is an entertainment platform that sparks creativity for millions of people around the world. It’s short-form video content has also changed the way we consume content. 

TikTok offers users every type of content they can imagine, from music videos and dances to lifehacks and vlogs. TikTok has evolved from a music app to a versatile platform. Although, one feature that continues to stand out is sound.   

Sound on TikTok is fundamental to the platform’s success. Content creators on TikTok create sounds as their starting points and engage with audio in an alternative way to other social platforms. TikTok sounds are used to enhance content and elicit emotions to help form connections between users.

What makes sound so popular on TikTok?

Sound has always been an important part of TikTok. Starting as Musical.ly, users were drawn to the app to create short lip-sync videos to popular sounds. In the app we know today, sounds and music have become the driving force behind most trends on the app which has even resulted in influencing global chart music. But why does sound work so well on TikTok? TikTok for Business recently revealed a study by Kantar on TikTok sounds; this is what they found.

Sound is better received on TikTok

According to Kantar’s findings, sound on TikTok is considered more “fun” than other platforms that have audio off as a basic setting. Users also said that sounds on TikTok are more informative, appealing and engaging. This is drastically different to other platforms where users tend to perceive sound as distracting or annoying. This means that brands can use TikTok to evoke feelings in a way that is not possible on other social platforms.

Sound is the “anti-scroll”

On TikTok, sound is the feature that stops users from scrolling. In a digital landscape of endless content, activating the sense of hearing in addition to sight engages the brain to a greater extent, encouraging users to slow down to process the content. Sounds on TikTok draw users in to connect with the content, no matter if it’s organic or paid. In Kantar’s study, 73% of TikTok users said they would stop and watch ads on TikTok with audio—a significantly higher percentage than on any other platform.

Sound is essential to users

Nearly 90% of TikTok users said sound is essential to the TikTok experience. Separating a TikTok from its sound makes the video redundant: it won’t make sense. If brands want to stay relevant to TikTok audiences, they need to use sound as the primary creative driver in content creation.

Sound drives creativity

TikTok sounds inspire users to be creative. TikTok users enjoy finding new sounds and remixing them to create something entirely new. Users are active in building their own audios thanks to their own softwares or by using TikTok’s Duet and Stitch features. Sound encourages users to collaboratively create with other users.

Sound features available on TikTok

TikTok is a platform where dance moves, memes and musical trends thrive. As a result of having music at the heart of the platform, TikTok has its own Commercial Music Library. The TikTok Commercial Music Library has over 150,000 royalty-free tracks from emerging artists to chart-toppers from every genre you can imagine. Including tracks with and without lyrics, TikTok creators and brands are free to create the content they want, with the sounds they want.

TikTok’s Commercial Music Library sounds are available for anyone with a TikTok account to use, but those with TikTok Business accounts can only use sounds from the library. The majority of tracks are licensed to be used worldwide, but within TikTok’s ecosystem. Users can share the TikToks using Commercial Music Library sounds, to any platform, but can’t use the tracks to make content on other platforms. 

In addition to this, TikTok has Immersive Music Creative Effects that creators and brands can use to create content. The effects are powered by real-time and interactive music processing technology; this results in movements and transitions that sync perfectly with the beat of any song from TikTok’s sounds library. 

Users are also able to create their own sounds and voice-overs, but these need to use copyright-free sounds otherwise TikTok will remove the sound, making the content redundant.

How brands can use sounds to grow on TikTok

According to Kantar’s research, TikTok’s sound-positive approach impacts every stage of the customer journey. By using a sound-on approach, brands will be able to achieve three key goals on the platform: boost awareness, communicate new information, and increase favourability and sales.

Boosting awareness

Research found that campaigns on TikTok, ads with sound on performed 2.2 times better than competing ads with the sound turned off. In addition to this, ads on TikTok with sound performed 1.2 times better than ads with sound on alternative platforms.

Communicating new information

TikToks have been proven to spread information effectively. Using sound on TIkTok effectively conveys your brand identity and values to consumers. Nearly 60% of consumers said they have learned something new from a TikTok ad.

Increasing favourability and sales

Compared to other social media platforms, TikTok is the only platform where ads with sound significantly increase purchase intent and brand favourability. For other platforms, using sound can have a negative impact on favourability

Brands using TikTok sounds successfully

Elf Cosmetics

Elf Cosmetics is believed to have been the first brand to commission their own sound for a TikTok campaign. Inspired by Kash Doll’s hit “Ice Me Out”, Elf’s track is called “Eyes Lips Face”—an acronym of the brand’s name.

@justmaikoYall gotta hype me up😜 #eyeslipsface @elfcosmetics #ad♬ Eyes. Lips. Face. (e.l.f.) – iLL Wayno & Holla FyeSixWun

@brittany_broskiI TOLD YALL TO HYPE ME UP !!!!! Smh #eyeslipsface @elfcosmetics #ad♬ Eyes. Lips. Face. (e.l.f.) – iLL Wayno & Holla FyeSixWun

The brand worked with beauty and dance influencers to kick off the campaign, before it began trending on TikTok and users began creating their own content with the sound. The sound currently has over 1.4 million videos created using it, and the hashtag #eyeslipsface has over 7.7 billion views.

@elfyeahY’all better lather up 🧼 Keep your eyes, lips, face safe! 👀👄🤩 #eyeslipsface #elfyeah @illwayno @hollafyesixwun♬ Eyes. Lips. Face. Safe. e.l.f. Cosmetics – elfyeah

@leilaniii2Y’all better lather up…✨ #eyeslipsface #elfpartner @elfyeah♬ Eyes. Lips. Face. Safe. e.l.f. Cosmetics – elfyeah


From the success of this trend, Elf went on to create more sounds inspired by the original: Eyes Lips Face Space, in support of social distancing, and Eyes Lips Famous, to kick off another TikTok challenge campaign.

@avaniit’s time for a clown check 🤡 go on @elfyeah to see my #EyesLipsFamous challenge! #elfambassador♬ Eyes. Lips. Famous. e.l.f. – elfyeah

Revolution Beauty

Revolution Beauty launched a TikTok challenge #iamforeverflawless using a commissioned track called Forever Flawless. TikTok creators were encouraged to share their creations using the brand’s Forever Flawless palettes.

@makeuprevolutionJoin our ##iamforeverflawless challenge! @illumin_arty transforms into her favourite Forever Flawless Palette 🔥♬ Forever Flawless – Makeup Revolution

@bexcxmpbellI joined the @makeuprevolution ##iamforeverflawless challenge! This look is inspired by the Forever Flawless Affinity Palette 💕 AD♬ Forever Flawless – Makeup Revolution


The campaign was launched by beauty TikTok creators and the best creations were reposted onto Revolution’s TikTok page. The campaign hashtag has over 2.1 billion views, and the sound has over 800 videos.

Adult Swim

Adult Swim has been at the centre of a TikTok trend using a sound created by VANO 3000. The sound was uploaded to TikTok on May 24, and it currently has over 450,000 videos created using it; the majority of which are completely free advertising for comedy channel Adult Swim.

@adultswimWe see you #adultswim #adultswimbump #vano3000♬ VANO 3000 – VANO 3000

@blackquarterzip#vano3000 #adultswim♬ VANO 3000 – VANO 3000


The trend involved users recreating Adult Swim bumps between programs. The bumps typically feature jokes and bizarre scenarios through text, time-lapse and other creative camerawork and editing, and they always end with either “[AS]” or “Adult Swim”.

@puffboypaynebe patient, you’ll find your place [AS] #as #adultswim #adultswimbump #vano3000 #fyp #golftok♬ VANO 3000 – VANO 3000

@jooystinnew banger dropping 😉 #fyp #adultswim ib: @8illy♬ VANO 3000 – VANO 3000


The #AdultSwim hashtag has gained over 2.6 billion views as a result of the trend. The channel themselves responded to the trend by creating their own video in the same style. The sound has now been heavily associated with the channel.

Kate Spade

Kate Spade’s most recent TikTok campaign featured a song inspired by Judy Garland’s “Get Happy” called “Happy Dance”. Kicking off the campaign in June with popular dance creators on the app, the fun campaign has already influenced other TikTok creators to make their own Happy Dance content.

@katespade@todrick ’s doing his happy dance. 🕺🏽 hbu? show us yours using #katespadeny♬ Happy Dance – Kate Spade New York

@happykelliChasing my cares away with @todrick & @katespade ! ☀️ #katespadeny♬ Happy Dance – Kate Spade New York


The first video using the sound was created on May 31st, but there are now over 1,500 videos created using it. In addition, the Kate Spade TikTok account has gained over 1,000 followers since launching the campaign.

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