How to Make TikTok Duets of Musical Performances

Part 1 – Hosting a Duet

After listening to podcasts by Michael Brandvold and Ari Herstand, I became convinced that I was under-using TikTok. I promptly got to work to correct for that.

Singer-songwriter Jason Didner creates TikTok duets to connect with fellow musicians and fans.

In the opinions of these two experts in today’s Internet-driven music business, TikTok offers by far the most effective way for a musician to connect with a wider online audience. Its algorithm can spread a song far and wide. An artist stands to gain a following that’s difficult or expensive to come by any other way on the Internet.

I do not consider this a guarantee for a musician in my classic rock singer/songwriter niche. I do, however, have a keen interest to see if it raises awareness of what I’ve put so much heart into creating. Fellow musicians and potential fans can have meaningful fun really interacting with my music. This can help me fulfill the primary purposes of making music: to touch emotions and build community. This could also draw greater turnout to my streaming concerts and more interest in my mailing list and new releases.

Duet This!

Perhaps the most interactive power of TikTok lies in the duet feature. This powerful capability lets a musician (or any creator) invite other users to add their own performance to the first creator’s video in a split-screen view.

For a musician this can mean taking turns on verses, singing in harmony, adding a featured rap section, adding instruments to each other’s creations or even taking turns coming up with lyrics in open verses. It’s completely up to your imagination.

I’ve discovered particular challenges and learning on both the hosting and guesting side of a duet; I’ll break it down for you here.

Creating the Video

When you create a song to duet, you’ll need to consider whether you want to take turns on parts of the song, harmonize together, or both. Or you may choose to leave all that up to the guest, letting them surprise you.

If you have an arrangement in mind, you can add text boxes to provide lyrics and directions. I’ve found the most helpful text labels came in color codes, explaining when the host sings, when the guest sings and when both join in together.

In this illustration, blue indicates my vocal lines, the red is for my guest and the green is when we sing together in harmony.

You can arrange for any text box to enter and exit at any moment on the timeline, which makes lyric annotation work. With this in mind, make sure to create a song title text box. Position it toward the center of your video. On the timeline, arrange it to appear at the beginning. Use two fingers (pinch and zoom) to enlarge the title. The title will then appear in the thumbnail that shows in your collection of videos. We want to make sure it’s legible on a tiny little thumbnail image. Otherwise, users won’t know what your song is or that you’d like to invite a duet.

After you create a video and upload it into TikTok, make sure you’re allowing Duets. In fact you can further encourage duets by using the #DuetThis hashtag. Also, place a “Duet This” text box at the beginning of the timeline so it becomes part of the thumbnail. If someone stumbles on your video it’ll be more apparent to them that you want them to do a duet with you.

Sound and Video Quality Tips

An iPhone 11 serves as my device, so I’m not sure if my tips will differ from how TikTok works on an Android phone. I prefer to capture my original video on my camera first and then upload to TikTok. Using this method I get to concentrate more on capturing the performance. I avoid getting sidetracked with TikTok options while creating the video. I can get into those options with the finished video already in hand. Having a video already captured that can be posted at another time of day also has its strategic advantages.

A musician’s audio quality needs to shine in their TikToks. Our sound is our calling card! So, I plug a USB Snowball microphone into the phone’s Lightning port (with an adapter) in order to improve the sound quality over the built-in mic.

After capturing the video I use the phone’s Edit feature to trim the length at beginning and end. At this point I trim out the parts where I press the Record/Stop button. I use an LED light pointed at me. An LED stage light that changes colors is pointed over my shoulder. I have this 2nd light set to change colors in time with the music.

Here’s an actual “duet this” video I created in TikTok. Go ahead and press play. Learn all you can from it.

@jasondidner Let’s jam! Bon Jovi – Wanted Dead or Alive #BonJoviDuet #NewJersey #JerseyRock #Acoustic #LetsDuet #duetthissong ♬ original sound – Jason Didner Music

How You’ll Know if your Duet Has a Guest

It’s easy to miss an alert that your duet you created has a guest. If you’re quick, you’ll see it on the Inbox tab, and then in the Activities section. The thumbnail of the duet will serve as a link to the video your guest made with your video.

TikTok - Jason Didner shows how to find recent duets of your videos.
Tap Inbox > Activities to see recent activity with your content. Here you can find recent duets.

Here’s the response I got from Michigan-based independent artist Kris Pride

@krispridemusic #duet with @Jason Didner Music #bonjoviduet #deadoralive ♬ original sound – Jason Didner Music

When you find the duet by your guest, be sure to press the Share button and choose Repost so your followers get to see what your guest artist did with your duet.

If you think you missed duet activity, you can use the search bar on the home page to look for “duet of @[your username]”

In Part 2, I discuss being a guest in a TikTok duet, which I find to be a different kind of workflow with its own set of challenges and hacks.

In the comments below, let me know if these tips were helpful. Also let me know your best practices. Drop a link to your #DuetThis videos if you’d like.