Recently, YouTube has been pushing its Shorts, trying to attract younger audiences. At the same time, TikTok has increased the maximum video length, introduced a live streaming option and a built-in shopping service, all of which YouTube has had for a while. The Chinese-owned company is also testing its new service called TikTok Music (guess what it focuses on) in five countries in 2023.

It might be just me, but it looks like YouTube is trying to be more like TikTok while TikTok is doing the same thing but in reverse.

Are we going to end up with two identical platforms competing for the viewers’ shorter and shorter attention spans? Well, joking aside, that’s unlikely.

Still, the truth is both platforms have been introducing new features to attract users, and their strategy seems to align more often than not. If you’re a musician looking to promote your songs, you’re probably wondering which platform you should focus on to go viral and eventually build a lasting career.  

In this article, I will analyze what YouTube and TikTok offer to musicians in 2023 and give you an honest opinion on what each platform is better at and how to use it to get the most out of both.

A bit of background

Since its launch in 2005 in California by three friends who used to work together at PayPal, YouTube has become a go-to platform for musicians. With an astonishing 2.5 billion users and over 122 million daily viewers, it’s a goldmine for artists looking to expand their audience. The platform kicked off almost immediately, and by the time it was officially launched in December 2005, it had more than two million video views daily. In 2006, YouTube was bought by Google, and the rest is history. I recently wrote about YouTube for musicians in 2023, where I go into more practical details, so be sure to check it out if you want to delve deeper into the platform.

The TikTok success story is slightly different than that of YouTube; it was first launched by ByteDance, a Chinese tech giant, in 2016 as and then renamed Douyin for distribution in China and Thailand and made available as TikTok outside of China. In the meantime, ByteDance purchased, a similar app from Shanghai, merged both platforms, and a new version was promoted worldwide in 2018. The mobile video-sharing platform became popular almost instantly, thanks to its collaborative features and impressive algorithm. In 2021, TikTok celebrated 1 billion monthly viewers, and a year later was announced as the fastest-growing social media platform.

The platform has also attracted considerable attention with accusations of a data breach and privacy issues. TikTok was eventually banned in India, and many US politicians have also put it on their agenda to outlaw the platform.

Nonetheless, TikTok is still doing amazingly well, and the competition between both platforms in terms of revenue streams is fiercer than ever. Politics apart, what should you make of it as a music creator in 2023?

Let’s take a look.

What’s new on YouTube vs. TikTok in 2023?

TikTok and YouTube have both had their fair share in democratizing the music industry and making it more accessible to unknown artists, allowing them to bypass the middleman and connect directly with their global audience and, at the same time, revolutionizing the way we listen to and discover music.

The platforms are quite different, though seemingly more and more alike. YouTube has long been appreciated for its long-form videos, allowing artists to share a whole album or live session recordings in the form of playlists and tutorials to build a library of valuable content. When TikTok was introduced, the main feature that has been driving views in the early 2020s – short-form content transformed the music world.

To keep up with the rapidly growing competition, YouTube launched YouTube Shorts in 2020. Currently, both YouTube Shorts and TikTok videos are reaching new viewer records every month, and I’m not going to share the stats as it really isn’t the crucial part. What matters is how you use each platform to promote your music, attract new audiences, connect with your existing fanbase, and, hopefully, develop a lasting career. Earlier this year, I published a step-by-step guide on how to get your songs on TikTok, so if you are a newbie on the platform, I recommend you look over it.

YouTube laid the foundations for some of the biggest stars in the industry right now, like Ed Sheeran and Justin Bieber. Nonetheless, today, the top artists, including Bieber and Drake, leverage short form-focused content, creating videos that seem to be produced specifically for TikTok, with some arguing that the platform “ruined” the music business.

Is TikTok Hurting the Music Industry?

The mobile video-sharing app gained popularity thanks to an easy-to-navigate interface, which permits users to seamlessly share, discover, and create content, and its powerful algorithm that promotes new content discovery. Built-in tools, such as filters, effects, and video editing tools, help create quality content using a smartphone. On top of that, an array of live streaming and integration features helps cross-promote the content to other platforms, including Instagram or Twitter, and gain more visibility.

YouTube is catching up with TikTok’s most successful features; just this year, the platform released the “Samples” tab accessible from the bottom navigation bar in the YouTube Music app to help you discover new music. As described by YouTube, “a seamless feed of short-form video segments to get you to your new favorite music,” it allows you to use the music as a soundtrack in a Short, too. The idea is to feature the most “vibey” part of the track so that you get hooked and check out the full video. 

Furthermore, YouTube just a few days ago (at the time of writing) announced the release of a new product – YouTube Create. The separate app allows you to create, edit, and publish YouTube videos and Shorts directly from your phone. 

At the same time, TikTok released its latest product, TikTok Music, in Australia, Singapore, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico in August. It was launched as a separate app, but you can connect it to your existing TikTok account. It’s unclear when the app will be available in other countries, but the company representative said they will have “more news to share on the launch of TikTok Music in the coming months.” Its philosophy is to enable users to share, like, and download music discovered through the TikTok app. While many platforms, like Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon Music, already regularly publish Top TikTok songs-inspired playlists, now the social media platform is coming directly for their audiences.

That is a lot of changes in just a year. So whether you are a YouTube creator or a TikTok fan, it’s worth considering all the new products and how to use them to boost your music online in 2023.

The community behind the success of the video-sharing platforms

Let’s not forget both YouTube and TikTok are social platforms, and at the very base of their foundation lays the ability to connect artists with audiences, build communities, and foster relationships. Although not a social media platform per se, YouTube is considered such as it allows to share videos with subscribers and the support it offers to build communities.

The success of TikTok lies also in its constant push for collaboration. TikTok became known as a platform that allows less-known artists to go viral, and it’s one of the reasons why so many musicians are drawn to it. TikTok has let creators use their endless copyright-free music library, which also includes popular tracks, to create new videos. This is also how many artists blew up literally overnight when other users started posting videos with their music in the background.

Already then popular in New Zealand, singer-songwriter Benee came into prominence in 2020 when her song “Supalonly” spawned a viral TikTok dance challenge, which was joined by a number of influencers, including the supermodel Emily Ratajkowski. A few days later, the song entered the Billboard Hot 100 list. It has also encouraged over 10 million new TikTok videos and generated thousands of streams on Spotify and Apple Music.

BENEE – Supalonely ft. Gus Dapperton

Similarly, others like Lil Nas X, Dojo Cat, Megan Thee Stallion, or country musician Walker Hayes, who already were known in the industry, became stars after their videos inspired several TikTok infectious dance trends.

The same strategy applies to little or unknown artists. In 2021, a clip by Leith Ross softly singing “We’ll Never Have Sex” accompanied by acoustic guitar got over a million likes and inspired over 33,000 new videos, even before the original video had been released.

We’ll never have sex (demo) – Leith Ross

YouTube does not seem to have the same power to create viral trends in seconds, but a lot of music trends started on YouTube. Remember, Gangnam Style by PSY?

A great example of a musician who started their career on YouTube is Tate McRae. The Canadian singer, composer, and dancer started getting attention in 2017 thanks to her cover videos of famous songs and original songs. This year, the artist was nominated for the 2023 Juno Awards in 5 categories.

I wrote a song… one day // tate mcrae

While getting viral can be a great thing, achieving success as a music creator depends mainly on your ability to connect with your community. Both TikTok and YouTube offer unlimited ways to do that by live streaming, commenting, and various content forms. Picking up trends, such as vlog-style videos, can get your momentum, but providing a consistent and personalized experience to your audience is a key element on each platform.

Monetization tools: How to make money on YouTube and TikTok in 2023

You invest a lot of time and resources in creating, planning, and promoting your music, so chances are, you might want to receive some form of compensation for your efforts. And you should. Both YouTube and TikTok provide tools that can help you monetize your content.

Let’s take a closer look.

YouTube monetization tools:

YouTube offers various ways to make money on the platform as a creator. If you get accepted into the YouTube Partner program, you can benefit from YouTube’s resources and monetization features, as well as access to our Creator Support teams and earn revenue from ads being served on your content.

Google AdSense

When you create content on YouTube, you can make money by enabling ads to appear on your videos and Shorts. While you have the option of choosing where ads will appear in your videos, you cannot decide which products or services are promoted.

Channel memberships

Thanks to this option, you can introduce paid monthly membership and create curated members-only content, like exclusive livestreams, special badges, emojis, etc. 

Merch shelf

Once you create a merch shelf, you can promote and sell your official branded merchandise below your YouTube videos.

Super Chat and Super Stickers

It’s a good option for those who love live streaming. When you host a livestream, the viewers can reward you with donations of up to $500 in live chat.

TikTok monetization tools:

TikTok used to offer relatively less diverse options to earn a few bucks from your content, but it has now introduced live streaming and shopping services. The options are:

Creativity Program (formerly Creator Fund)

If you reach a certain following base, you can consider making money through the TikTok Creativity Program launched in February 2023 in the US.

TikTok Pulse

TikTok Pulse enables eligible creators to earn 50% of ad revenue when their content ranks among the app’s top 4%.

TikTok Shop

Just launched in the US and also available in selected countries worldwide, TikTok Shop allows creators to sell physical products directly from their TikTok accounts.

Live gifting

Another new feature on the platform allows your fans to send virtual payment gifts during live streaming.

On top of that, both platforms allow you to earn money from partnering with brands to create sponsored content and affiliate marketing. While this sounds like a lot of revenue streams, you need to build your follower base first to be able to make some serious money in any way.

YouTube Pros and Cons


  • Video length: with a verified creator profile, you can upload videos longer than 15 minutes (up to 12 hours of content).
  • Dedicated and more invested audience: According to Google, 85% of teens use YouTube to learn.
  • Monetization: YouTube generally offers higher pay for video views, but everything depends on your reach and audience engagement.
  • Detailed, built-in analytics.
  • Engagement tools allow you to involve the viewers and encourage interaction from your creator profile.
  • A more creator-focused and long-term value approach.


  • Format: long-from videos aren’t designed for mobiles, which can result in a less engaging user experience.
  • Fewer opportunities to get discovered and go viral as a new artist: YouTube algorithm and video format make it harder to go viral without a significant follower base.

TikTok Pros and Cons


  • More captivating and easily digestible content forms, resulting in higher user engagement.
  • Easier and cheaper content creation: built-in creation, filters, and editing tools allow you to post a video with just a smartphone.
  • Potential to go viral: Thanks to the TikTok algorithm and ForYou recommendation feed, even unknown artists can go viral in a matter of days. 
  • In-app engagement tools like Duet encourage collaboration between the artists. 
  • Music library: TikTok offers an extensive library of tracks, including commercial songs that can be used to create your videos.


  • Video length limit: users can only upload up to 10 minutes of content in one video.
  • There is less variety in terms of content formats.

Final notes on TikTok vs. YouTube for musicians

Both TikTok and YouTube offer a range of tools that can help you build a successful career and connect with viewers and musicians alike. Which platform is better for your needs depends largely on your long-term purpose.

The truth is you should be doing both. I feel you when you say short form is not your thing. I do not love it either. The chances that your songs will blow up on TikTok and get you to the Top Billboard charts are, let’s be honest, small. However, you can leverage the short-form content to draw new audiences to your long-form videos. Some industry specialists, including Sean Cannell, will agree if I say building your presence on YouTube in 2023 still makes a lot of sense.

YouTube offers more variety in content formats but also requires more time and experience. At the same time, posting content on TikTok, collaborating with other creators, and responding to or starting new viral trends can help you get discovered faster, which doesn’t mean you won’t have to invest your time and resources. If you’re not sure what to post on your TikTok as a musician, head over to this article by Jon that explains exactly that. 

No matter which platform you decide to focus on, the crucial thing is to post regular content. I’ve said that several times before, but I cannot stress enough how important consistency is to succeed on any social or streaming platform. If you form a strategy and a vision of your music career goals along the way, nothing else stops you from reaching for them.