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How Russ Used TikTok To Top The iTunes Charts

If you’ve never heard of Russ, he’s an independent rapper who’s become a mainstream artist all on his own.

He’s known for producing, mixing, mastering, engineering, writing, and performing all his songs and albums by himself.

And yesterday, his Handsomer Remix topped #1 across all genres on iTunes.

According to Russ, “that’s the first time this has ever happened.”

Magic question: How?

So, a few weeks ago, I spoke to Zack Hargett, and we talked everything organic growth on TikTok.

TikTok Duets Drive Virality

One of the main takeaways from the conversation was that if an individual or brand can create a challenge or piece of content that people duet, it’s lights out.

Duet definition: A duets allow you to build on another user's video on TikTok by recording your own video alongside the original as it plays.

So, for Russ, he dropped his new song Handsomer.

Someone replied to his post on TikTok, asking if he could create “an open verse for this one?”

Which sparked the Handsomer Open Verse Challenge Remix.

With this challenge, contestants had to:

  • Duet his video
  • Rap their verse over the beat
  • Use the hashtag #handsomer or #handsomerchallenge

And whoever dropped the best verse in the open verse challenge would be featured in the song's official remix.

Russ Used Duets And An Open Verse Challenge To Takeover TikTok

And the numbers back it up.

Here are the numbers:

  • The Handsomer Open Verse Sound was used by 34.1K videos
  • The hashtag #handsomer has 61.7M views
  • The hashtag #handsomerchallenge has 13.2M views
  • The original TikTok video has 2.8M views
  • The winning contestant’s video has 22M views


Plus, here was the timeline:

The challenge started on February 3rd.

The winner was chosen on March 5th, Kaitlyn, aka @ktlynraps.

And the official remix dropped on March 8th.

March 9th, and it’s the #1 song across all genres on iTunes.

Plus, some bonus numbers...

Over the course of that month, both Russ and Kaitlyn EACH gained 600K and 800k followers.


  • TikTok duets drive massive awareness and engagement
  • Challenges are a great way to spark duets
  • Incentivize participation to gain traction

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