TikTok and its parent company Bytedance’s licensing negotiations with music rightsholders continue, as does its dispute with licensing hub ICE in the UK, which has been taken to the country’s copyright tribunal. Yet alongside all this, TikTok continues to make its presence felt as a platform for music discovery and marketing campaigns. It’s no surprise that the company wants to shout about this, to establish its value to the music industry against the backdrop of those negotiations.
The latest example is a track called ‘Ride It’ by Kosovo-based artist DJ Regard. It’s a remix of an older song from 2008 by Jay Sean, which (as TikTok’s press release explains) DJ Regard created a new backing for, pitched the vocals down, and released as a 20-second version on the social app.
Since then, TikTok users have created more than 4.1m videos using the track; Ministry of Sound Records snapped up the full version and released it; and TikTok launched one of its challenges (#rideit) which has generated more than 95m views so far. The track itself now has 28.3m Spotify streams, and is top of Shazam’s UK country chart at the time of writing.
There are several points to note here. First, Ministry of Sound using TikTok as an A&R resource. “We monitored the initial success of the song on TikTok and then signed very early on, cleared and released,” said marketing manager Lottie Llewellyn. Second: TikTok’s eagerness to support the track once it started to break. Besides the dedicated #rideit challenge, TikTok says that it promoted the remix “through its in-app playlists, banners on the music page and by suggesting the song as a backtrack for the hashtag challenge #HiddenGem”.
The reasons for trumpeting all this are clear. “DJ Regard is yet another great example of how TikTok can support artists by providing a platform to promote their songs to a global audience. We are very proud to be part of this success supporting the artist in securing a record deal,” said TikTok Europe’s head of music partnerships Farhad Zand.
It’s an argument that’s undoubtedly being taken in to the company’s negotiations with labels and other rightsholders, although the age-old tension between label marketing teams’ excitement about the promotional value of social/video platforms, and the legal/licensing teams’ desire not to let that excitement get in the way of the business of advances, minimum guarantees and royalties still applies.