Artists can try to go viral on their own on TikTok — but a hand from Isabel Quinteros Annous almost guarantees it. As the artist-relations manager at the video app, Annous is the bridge between record labels and TikTok’s influential tastemaking platform, working with stars’ marketing teams to orchestrate hits as well as scouring TikTok for new acts to champion.
Annous helped turn Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage” into a Gen Z dance anthem; she’s also boosted Ppcocaine, whose brassy 15-second snippets made it into millions of videos, leading to a record deal with Columbia. After the Weeknd held a virtual show on TikTok, the music team was “flooded” with requests from other artists to set up livestreams, in-app merch features, and other experimental tech features. “We want those loud bell-and-whistle moments,” she says. “We know we can do the song campaigns — but we’re looking into that space to go bigger.”
A music-marketing veteran, Annous previously worked at major PR firms Rubenstein and PMK-BNC before founding her own branding company, PRWorks. She joined TikTok last year and has served as a Swiss Army knife for its quiet music team, promoting the app to the music business and introducing artists to new audiences at the same time.
Just before Covid-19, Jason Derulo told TikTok he wanted to grow his audience on the app. Annous went to Derulo’s house and taught him the basics of viral success for two hours. Now, Derulo is the most-followed musician on TikTok, reaping chart hits galore and five-figure brand sponsorships. Annous has also met with Iggy Azalea, who wanted to discuss “Ghost TikTok” with her — and who gained millions of new followers within a few weeks of Annous’ tips. “The first question [Azalea] asks is, ‘Is Jason making as much as he claims? I want to be number one!’” Annous recalls.
Derulo and Azalea “aren’t random,” Annous says. “I look for artists who know what they want to do with the app. Iggy’s funny, and all her videos have gone viral. What these artists have in common is they find they act like themselves.”