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The music industry (and, indeed, the wider world) still tends to think of TikTok as an ad-supported business. However, the company’s revenues from consumer spending are growing impressively, according to the latest figures put out by research firm Sensor Tower.

It claims that TikTok users spent around $2.3bn within the app (including its Chinese version Douyin) in 2021, which would have been a 77% rise from 2020’s $1.3bn.

This spending is also diversifying geographically. “In 4Q21, 57 percent of spending came from Chinese users, whereas China’s App Store represented 85 percent of in-app spending in 4Q20,” reported Sensor Tower. The US is the second biggest market for TikTok spending, generating $110m in the fourth quarter last year.

Why does this matter to Music Ally readers? Well, in-app purchases will be crucial to TikTok’s efforts to drive more revenues for its creators generally, including musicians specifically.

We reported in December on TikTok’s launch of the ‘Creator Next’ program, which aims to help people on the app make money from tips and video gifts. TikTok’s music boss Ole Obermann also recently talked about its ambitions to drive merch sales within the app, citing successful tests with Billie Eilish and Lizzo.

How much of that $2.3bn of consumer spending within TikTok went to musicians? We suspect not that much, but it shows a willingness to spend money that could be a positive thing for musicians (and music generally) as TikTok rolls out more features and programs in the future.

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