How To Add a Soundtrack in Tik Tok
TikTok got its start with a straightforward concept: creators would like to make and share short videos of themselves lip-syncing to music tracks. TikTok exploded in popularity, first in China, where the app got started as Douyin in 2016, before being cloned as TikTok for the non-Chinese market in 2017. The company maintains two separate apps running the same software to comply with Chinese censorship laws.
Since its creation, TikTok (even without Douyin) has more than 500 million active users each month, and as of late 2018 had been downloaded more than 800 million times globally, with 80 million of those in the United States alone. The value of parent company ByteDance has reached $80 billion since 2019. About 41 percent of the app’s users are under 25 years of age, making TikTok a massive presence in the youth market and fueling confidence about TikTok’s generational stability.
Although the video is the first thing that people think about in a TikTok clip, the audio track assigned to each video is probably responsible for more of the overall user experience. TikTok is still heavily oriented around lip-sync and other music videos, for which the music is at least as important as the 3 to 15-second video clip. While TikTok does have basic sound editing capabilities built into the smartphone app, in this article, I will show you how to use more advanced tools to create more vibrant and better produced soundtracks for your TikTok clips.
How Soundtracks Work
Think about the music videos that you’ve seen with your favorite bands playing and singing their popular songs “live” on tape. Do you think that the video crew sets up microphones and records what the band is doing, and then pastes that right in as the soundtrack of the video? There’s more to the process than recording; there’s a lot of editing involved. In post-production, the sound editors take the recording of the band playing and use it to master a prerecorded, polished version of the song. The end product sounds great, but it isn’t a recording of the band’s “live” performance, and it isn’t just them lip-syncing along, either. It’s a fairly heavily engineered synthesis.
When you create a TikTok video, you can do a direct recording of your audio (usually you and/or your friend are singing a song or something similar) and send it straight out onto the app unedited, raw, and untouched. A lot of creators do that as well. However, it’s also possible to adapt the techniques that the big bands and studios use, and to create a polished and perfect soundtrack for your video outside of the TikTok engine, then reintegrate it into the video clip before you upload it. There are several advantages to this approach. One is that you can get rid of any glitches or performance errors in post, either re-recording them or using audio software to fix them. The other significant advantage is that you can eliminate the ambient background noise from wherever you recorded.
How do I Add a Soundtrack to a TikTok video
Audio post-production is essential to the entertainment industry. Sadly, unless your TikTok channel is getting millions of views, you probably cannot afford the services of one of those expert sound wizards. However, you can do a large percentage of what they can do, thanks to the many software tools that have become available for sound editing.
Mastering audio post-production can get complicated, but the basic workflow is simple. We’re going to work from the bottom up and show you how to integrate a soundtrack and a video clip in the TikTok app.
These instructions are specific to the iPad version of the app, and we did this because it is easier to work with a larger screen. The Android version is similar, except some symbols will look different.
Once you have your video file done and you have your completed soundtrack file ready in MP3 format, here is the process for preparing your completed video for TikTok.
- Record your video and save it in TikTok. Set your video to private.
- Have your MP3 file available on the device you’re using for the upload.
- Select the ‘+’ icon in the main window to open the video tool.
- Select “Movie” in TikTok and select the video you uploaded. It should load into a black window split in two with the video at the top and timeline below.
- Select “Mute” from the bottom to silence the video.
- Select “Back” and then “Audio” in TikTok.
- Select the soundtrack you want to use on your video.
- Select the three-dot menu icon by that soundtrack and then the soundwave icon with the small ‘+’ sign. An audio track should appear underneath your video in the main timeline view in TikTok.
- Position the audio by moving it with your finger until it is perfectly in sync with your video.
That final step may take a little while as the window isn’t that big, especially if you’re using a phone instead of an iPad. You can shift the audio track incrementally, but be careful during this step as the slider is sensitive. Once you have it set, save it, and it is ready to publish. If you want to add sound effects before submitting your finished product, you can do so before hitting publish.
How to Add Sound to TikTok
Editing the Video
TikTok has a built-in sound editor; it’s not comprehensive, but it has basic features and may be adequate if you need to add a sound from the built-in TikTok library. For anything more than that, you need an external editor. If you want to use an external video editor to clean up your video clip, we recommend Lightworks, DaVinci Resolve, or Shotcut.
Editing Audio Using Shortcut
Shortcut is one of our favorite ways to add audio to a TikTok video. The program is free and has a lot of tools, although it does have a bit of a learning curve. If you persevere with it, you could make high-quality videos for any website, including YouTube.
- Open “Shotcut” and select Playlist > Properties > Encode > Timeline and then “Job”.
- Click “Open File” and select your video.
- Drag your audio file into the timeline below the video in Shotcut.
- Hold down the mouse on the audio track and drag it to sync it with the video.
- Select “Encode,” then “MP4.” Selecting “MP4” will create the video.
- Upload it to your device and into TikTok.
Shortcut can be used to create high-quality content and contains multiple tools and effects to make your videos pop. You can also cut, and extended the video, add intros and outros and much more. Check out more in-depth tutorials online to make viral-worthly TikTok videos.
Sound Editing Software
There are three common options when it comes to sound editing software. Apps that you can download on your phone are handy because you can take them anywhere and edit them on the fly. The downside is that the apps usually are not sophisticated enough to handle editing long-term. If you’re new to editing, using an app is perfect for beginners.
The second option is to use a web-based service to do your video editing. Web-based services have the advantage of still being usable anywhere, even from your phone on the road. Unfortunately, these services are often slow because you’re using someone else’s cloud resources, and they may not be prioritizing your work. The best thing about the website option is that it will work in an environment where you can’t install software, and you can use a laptop as the interface for your editing.
The third option is purchasing and using pro-quality software that includes all of the advanced features you’ll need to make the best TikTok videos on the website. The disadvantage is the learning curve. If you aren’t knowledgable on how to use the software, you may be spending your money for nothing.
Let’s take a look at some of the best choices for each category we mentioned.
Sound Editing Apps
Standing head and shoulders above the competition, WaveEditor is the undisputed champ of Android sound editors. The basic version is free, and the unlocked version is $3.99. WaveEditor is a professional editing package that lets you do recording, remastering, and edits right on your Android phone. It can handle most formats and makes the editing process streamlined. Multiple tracks can be remixed using a visual interface, and you can import more than 30 different import formats. You can even record audio while you’re editing. The standard edit functions like zoom, pan, and selection are supported, along with fades, reverses, and inversions.
TwistedWave is a triple-threat, with a desktop program for Mac, a smartphone app for iOS, and a web-based service. Here I’m just going to focus on the iOS app, however. Priced at $9.99, TwistedWave is efficient, fast, intuitive, and updates the sound display in real-time to make editing quick and easy. Drag waveforms to move them. There is an instant undo/redo feature, audio editing feature, copy and paste, adjustments and normalizations, fades, filters, and FTP integration.
Sound Editing Websites
Beautiful Audio Editor
The Beautiful Audio Editor is a Chrome extension that provides an in-browser multi-track audio editor that will work on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. BAE allows you to change the speed of audio sections, edit multiple tracks, alter volume, move and modify audio parts, create custom fade-ins and fade-outs, and has dozens of more features. It is a remarkably full-featured package. It has one weakness: it is not rock-stable with large projects (more than 300 MB of memory). However, since TikTok video segments are always short and sweet, this weakness should never really enter into operation. Bonus: it’s free.
Sodaphonic takes the opposite approach; instead of hosting a full host of features, it does a few things better than other apps we’ve mentioned. Sodaphonic gives you a fast and smooth web interface to trim, cut, paste, and delete segments of audio. You can add fades and mute sections of the audio, or play an audio file backwards. It’s incredibly easy to use and swift. Between BAE and Sodaphonic, a mobile editing studio can run smoothly on most laptops and covers most of the bases. Sodaphonic is free.
Sound Editing Suites
Audacity is one of the best free audio software on the computer. It’s a multiplatform program, supporting Windows, Mac, and Uni. The program is easily the equal of its paid competition, and for TikTok uses, there isn’t any reason not to consider Audacity. Audacity is also an open-source program, meaning that its development is unlikely ever to stop or stall. The app has a large selection of tools but is simple to use, and the developers have created wizards to automate your workflow. Audacity supports many file formats and has every feature of every package described in this article, plus a great deal more. Best of all, it’s free.
We’ve got more TikTok resources for your social media consideration!
If you want to monetize your TikTok videos, check out our guide on how to make money on TikTok.
Expand your brand with our walkthrough on expanding your following on TikTok.
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Spice up your videos with our tutorial on how to add visual effects in TikTok.
Here’s our guide on recording and editing videos on TikTok.
Of course, we have a tutorial on how to go live and stream on TikTok!
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