How TikTok Radio became a hit station for SiriusXM through a partnership

  • TikTok has become an important starting point for music trends.
  • SiriusXM has teamed up with TikTok to launch a radio channel built around popular tunes on the app.
  • The arrangement helped both companies branch out into new formats and reach different audiences.

TikTok didn’t kill the radio star. But like everywhere else in the music industry, it exerts its influence on the format.

In August 2021, TikTok co-launched a radio channel with SiriusXM as part of a content partnership. It quickly became a SiriusXM flagship station, often held up by executives as an example of how the company programs content for young people.

“We’re really pleased with the station’s response,” Steve Blatter, senior vice president and general manager of music programming at SiriusXM, told Insider. “He’s reaching an audience that I don’t think I’ve been satisfied with before.”

Like TikTok’s “For You” page, which recommends videos featuring songs in a wide range of genres, what ends up playing on TikTok Radio seems all over the place.

In a recent session, a sped-up version of Oliver Tree and Robin Schulz’s new version “Miss You” cut to Kate Bush’s 1985 track “Running Up That Hill.” In another, Lil Wayne’s 2008 hip-hop song “Lollipop” preceded the dark 2022 track “Until I Found You” by Stephen Sanchez and Em Beihold.

Between tracks, the channel’s hosts, who are TikTok creators themselves, often explain how a song went viral on the app. During a segment, host Cat Haley explained that Drake and 21 Savage’s “Rich Flex” took off on TikTok after the creators posted comedic videos using the lyrics to the track, “21 Can You Do It. ” for me ?

“You keep this trend and this song hugely important, baby,” said Haley, who, in addition to being a SiriusXM host, has around 750,000 TikTok followers.

How SiriusXM and TikTok work together

Like most businesses built around music, TikTok regularly influences songs that appear on many of SiriusXM’s music channels, Blatter said.

“I’ve always had a very agnostic view of where a piece of music comes from,” he said. “Through our relationship with TikTok, we can discover new artists, new songs that are bubbling.”

The short video app has become an increasingly big player in the music industry, serving as a hub for music discovery and steadily propelling songs into the mainstream and often to the top of the Billboard 100 or of Spotify Viral 50. And while SiriusXM operates on a different business model than TikTok, based on radio subscriptions and in-car streaming, industry experts say its decision to partner with TikTok last year was sensible.

“It’s smart because, if anything, it will introduce the Sirius brand to a younger audience,” said Keith Jopling, consulting director at music research firm MIDiA Research. “Realizing that, ‘Hey, these guys are where the action is, but we can give them a platform.'”

TikTok shares song trending data with SiriusXM twice a week, using data points such as video views, how quickly songs are rising on the app, and its own editorial calendar for music (TikTok Radio recently aired an episode of R&B music linked to the TikTok hashtag #RnBVibes). The SiriusXM and TikTok programming teams converse daily, said Marie Steinbock, director of music programming for SiriusXM who oversees the channel’s content.

TikTok also helped SiriusXM select creators who would serve as TikTok Radio hosts, a role that includes recording for the channel twice a week and occasionally recording longer interviews with artists like Meghan Trainor and Charlie. Puth.

“We went through a very cumbersome host selection process,” said William Gruger, who works on global music programming at TikTok. “What we’ve tried to focus on in selecting hosts are hosts who really have distinct pathways and sort of areas of interest and areas of expertise,” he said, pointing fingered creators like music and culture critic Masani Musa and Davis Burleson of “What’s Poppin?” as examples of creators with different content backgrounds.

Diversify with a younger audience

SiriusXM sees TikTok Radio as a way to attract the next generation of subscribers. Company executives have previously said its service tends to reach older consumers.

“I think we’re getting old,” SiriusXM executive vice president and chief financial officer Sean Sullivan told a Deutsche Bank conference in March. In September, Sullivan cited TikTok Radio as an example of the station’s efforts to find content that “really resonates with younger consumers to address some of the generational shifts you see in the business.”

SiriusXM, which also owns Pandora and is an investor in SoundCloud, declined to share TikTok Radio listening data, telling Insider that the channel’s audience includes a wide range of listeners, including users of TikTok, parents of children who use TikTok, and sometimes Uber drivers.

“Our first reaction to who might listen to TikTok Radio is younger audiences, which I think it definitely is,” Steinbock said. “A lot of families are listening to it and a lot of older people who aren’t necessarily on TikTok but want to be.”

For Steinbock and his team, the task of scheduling music content based on TikTok trends, which can emerge and disappear within days or hours, is a difficult one.

The SiriusXM team will often work with TikTok in real time to secure the rights to broadcast certain audio clips while a clip is still popular on TikTok. The band recently coordinated with TikTok to get permission to play Louis Theroux’s audio-sampled track “Jiggle Jiggle” from Duke & Jones ahead of its official release, for example.

For TikTok Radio hosts themselves, preparing for a SiriusXM recording session often just means gorging on TikTok like a typical user.

“I just navigate the app like I normally would and connect things as I scroll and see if it would work well on TikTok Radio,” said Musa, a creator who posts about music to around 360,000 subscribers. TikTok under the username CultureUnfiltered. “It’s not so much about starting from my personal tastes, but about how the content reaches people and how people react to it.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *