Bow Anderson and Calum Bowie

The social network: how PRS Members' Day panellists built a fanbase on TikTok

Ahead of their appearance at PRS Members' Day Glasgow on 22 March, Bow Anderson and Calum Bowie speak to M Magazine about growing their social media presence, connecting with fans and going viral.

Liam Konemann
  • By Liam Konemann
  • 15 Mar 2023
  • min read

At this month’s PRS for Music Members' Day in Glasgow, attendees will hear from Bow Anderson and Calum Bowie, two artists who have made the most of social media to help launch their careers.

Drawing influence from Sam Fender, Alfie Templeman and Maisie Peters, Calum Bowie is an Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter who has made a name for himself with charismatic live shows and major supports. Jumping on tours with the likes of JP Cooper and New Rules, Calum has also had a sold-out headline slot at London’s Omeara and seen strong support from radio.

Meanwhile, Bow Anderson has had a viral TikTok hit in 20s, which surpassed 3.9 million views, and has racked up over 25 million streams globally. Bow has also seen support from BBC Radio 1 and Spotify Viral Charts, and played sold-out shows at Camden Assembly and other venues off the back of her debut EP New Wave.

Next week, Calum and Bow will discuss the power of social platforms when cultivating a genuine fanbase. Speaking to M ahead of their appearance, both acknowledge that social media has become a major part of the artist’s toolkit, and shed light on how they have made it work for them. And while Calum and Bow have each made use of a number of platforms in building their careers, one has been a bigger force than any other for both of them. 

‘TikTok has been such a huge factor in my music, says Calum. ‘I had been releasing music for a few years until I started posting snippets of what I had been playing on TikTok. I saw a real shift in my streams as people would start to check out my stuff on streaming sites and YouTube.’ 

‘I had no expectations of 20s doing well on TikTok,’ Bow says of her viral hit. ‘I genuinely wrote the song from a place of my own insecurities, thinking it would never see the light of day. I posted it on TikTok like I would the odd other demo but this one related to people in a way I didn’t expect. I guess it brought me comfort knowing I wasn’t alone in this feeling and we all have challenges and pressures that we put on ourselves.’

Almost straight off the bat, Calum saw that a fanbase was beginning to coalesce. ‘I found that the same people would follow my content closely. Commenting, liking and sharing on every video. This is where I really gained my first bit of traction and consistent audience engagement,’ he says

For him, TikTok’s power to expose artists to new listeners is unrivalled. ‘I think it’s the number one marketing tool in the world right now and has access to untouched audiences you may not be able to reach on other sites,’ he says. 

Making the most of the platform, though, might seem easier said than done. With around 30 million daily active users and reams of videos being uploaded every minute, the possibility of breaking through the noise can sound like a distant dream. But with so many users, it’s all the more likely that artists can find their niche. Besides, as Calum says, there are a few small steps that will increase your chances. ‘Consistency is key and engaging with people who engage with you are the two most important things on the site.'

It’s also important to remember that social media is not he be-all and end-all of music promotion. ‘TikTok is a great funnel so make sure to let people know where they can support you - whether that’s on streaming sites, at gigs, through merch,’ says Calum.

And besides, not all musicians feel like social media is a good fit for them. While it is important to use all the tools at your disposal to build your audience, Bow notes, it’s just as important to be aware of what your personal boundaries are. 

‘I think all artists should use TikTok as a platform to promote their music. As much as I wish I was born in the days when you wrote an album and then toured and your team would take care of the promo side. Social media has become such a big part of an artist’s life. And whether you love or hate it I think you do need to build some sort of platform on it,’ she says. ‘But I would say that as an artist you want to be presented in a way that feels true to you. So don’t do something that you have seen another artist do that feels uncomfortable for you. Find your niche – something that feels authentic to you.’

When it comes to social media and connecting with fans, it's all about what works for the artist – whether that's consistently posting on TikTok, signposting fans to your other networks, or using it as a place to connect emotionally. 

For more from Bow Anderson and Calum Bowie, join us for free at Members’ Day in Glasgow on 22 March.