Case Study: Viral Tik Tok Artists’ Spotify Monthly Listeners Vs. Followers

Updated: Jan 4

A former case study conducted by Deep Cuts analyzed 107 artists on Spotify comparing followers to monthly listeners. The focus was to use followers as a proxy for fans/heavy users. The results from their study show that only 24% of an artist’s total listenership is made up of fans. More importantly to digest is this paragraph from Amber’s findings:

“What’s perhaps even more grim is that for smaller acts (<1M followers, e.g.: Jeff Tweedy), the average is lower at 11%, whereas big acts (>1M followers, e.g.: Dua Lipa) it’s higher at 26%. This challenges the notion that building an artist fanbase by engaging the hyper-dedicated core fan base of early adopters and instead results from increasing market share by adding more light listeners, which may not stick around for the next release.”

We’re in a world now where having a loyal fanbase is so incredibly important especially if you’re trying to monetize them via digital platforms since touring is currently not an option. But there is a constant internal battle between “do I need to remarket to my current fans to maintain their loyalty?” or “do I not spend so much time with people who are already my fans and try to capture new ones?”. Amber’s research shows that by reaching more listeners, you’ll have a better chance of increasing your fan conversion ratio meaning you’ll be adding more fans naturally.

Now onto our research. We listed out the most recent popular TikTok songs and the findings were as expected. Almost everyone on TikTok knows these popular trend songs which have all reached Spotify’s Global and Viral Top 50 charts playlist at some point during their short lived life cycle. The problem is that you most likely know the song but don’t have a clue as to who the artist is. This is the challenge at hand for these artists. How do you ride the momentum and establish a name for yourself?

Our case study examined the most popular artists on TikTok by followers, their monthly listeners on Spotify, as well as the artists with the most viral songs on TikTok songs for the month of July 2020. Our study found results that differed from the previously mentioned article from Amber Horsburgh. Artists with the greatest TikTok following had an average of 36.15% of an artist’s total listenership being made up of fans, which is 12% more than the average rate of 24%. What does this mean? Well it means that the “cross pollination” between platforms for established artists is much stronger than non-established artists.

Established artist’s fans, as you can see, will follow them to whatever platform they’re present on. Do a good job as a content creator and you can significantly grow your already LARGE fan base. Take Jason Derulo for example. In the past 30 days alone he’s grown his Spotify follower count by 100,000. His presence on TikTok and incredible content has been a catalyst for his music growth and reach as he’s captured many new fans since joining the platform.

On the other hand, the artists of the top viral TikTok songs of July had an average of 0.832% of their total listenership made up of fans. These findings show that although many users on TikTok may recognize a viral song, most people do not know who the artist is.

If you’re an artist who’s seen viral song success this is important to take note. While the songs get a lot of EARS you need to be working on getting a lot of EYES. Yeah we know that everyone says “content is king” but it’s the truth. Visual content is extremely important for an artist to let potential fans know who you are and if you’ve already seen viral song success on TikTok, you’re just a few creative videos away to hooking fans and growing your Spotify follower count.

The question remains if artists can build careers from achieving viral song success on TikTok. What we can definitely predict is the dramatic increase of “one hit wonders”. Our findings show that already popular artists with the greatest following on TikTok had even greater total listenership of fans than average, which supports Amber's theory, but with more exaggerated leaning numbers. Smaller artists that achieved viral hits on TikTok have a very low follower count, much lower than even the small act average of 11%. This is the marketing gap where new artists that achieved viral song success on TikTok need to keep riding the viral tailwind and pair it with more visual content to learn about the artist behind the song.

To wrap up, TikTok is a great outlet to be discovered but it’s by no means the only platform you as an artist should depend on to grow your fanbase. A good social media presence across various channels will allow listeners of your hit song a chance to really learn more about the artist behind the song. Be sure to consistently release music and content, actively engage with your current fans, and use marketing tactics to reach new audiences. This is the basic formula for any exposure. Going against established wisdom and marketing to more passive listeners to grow fanbases along with the formula for exposure should help increase your Spotify conversion rate.


  • A song that goes viral on TikTok severely inflates artists monthly listener counts and is natural for Spotify Fan Conversion Rate to decrease

  • What we’ve observed via the Tikometer post is that viral songs on TikTok receive about a week of extreme listenership

  • The Spotify Fan Conversion Ratio is a good representation of the # of people that actually know the artist behind the song

  • It is more profitable to market to strangers, not to existing fans because fans already know who the artist is as opposed to those who need an introduction.

  • Follower ratios should be a measurement that is consistent with their listeners and should be closely monitored.

How to improve ratio?

  • Consistent releases can help increase your followers which in turn will improve your ratio as monthly listener count will eventually come down to earth levels unless said artist achieves another massive viral hit

  • Market to listeners of viral song for upcoming releases to improve your “brand awareness” and cement your name in their heads

  • Create visuals of the artist and brand name with the current viral song on all social media platforms in order to stimulate “cross-pollination”

  • Do a giveaway challenge which encourages fans to follow certain accounts on different platforms, which can increase “cross-pollination”

  • Similar to the giveaway challenge, promote the viral song with a new release, but promote the new release to be listened to on the platform with less followers to increase engagement