TikTok wants to break new acts via Spotlight


TikTok, the short-form video app that has been downloaded over 1bn times to make it the new centre of gravity in the meme world, is looking to court new acts and help break them on the platform. Its new Spotlight feature allows artists to digitally audition for the company and the successful ones will be put in front of its 21 label and publisher partners.

Spotlight is initially focused on South Korea and Japan – after a similar initiative in China – and is promising to give new acts a foot up by putting them in front of a massive global audience. The language it is using in announcing the arrival of Spotlight is particularly fascinating, saying that it wants to help “discover and support the growth of independent artists”.

Over the next five months, the panel of judges will whittle submissions down to between five and 10 acts, also drawing on data around which tracks are proving most popular with users of the app.

According to Billboard there will be “production opportunities and other prizes” for the successful acts.

TikTok already offers a library of audio samples for users to put in their short-form videos but it is unclear if any of the music that makes it through the Spotlight programme will be monetised. This could be a growing issue for an app that has music at the centre of what it does and there will be calls from rightholders to ensure there is proper remuneration here. The promise of exposure is one thing, but in the meme-heavy world of TikTok, something can go viral overnight yet the career arc of an act or a track here can be boom and bust. Today’s hottest meme can so quickly become an entry in tomorrow’s “Where are they now?” file. Paying for music is one part of the conundrum for a platform like TikTok, but ensuring songs and artists don’t become LOL-centric landfill is another thing entirely.

Written by: Eamonn Forde