TikTok gets into music distribution with SoundOn launch


TikTok is already many things to many people, but now it is adding a couple of strings to its bow for musicians specifically: distribution and marketing services. That’s through its new SoundOn service, which will enable artists to upload music directly to TikTok, be paid royalties by the company, and use its set of promotional and analytics tools.

However, SoundOn will also distribute to other streaming services: TikTok’s sister DSP Resso, but also Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Pandora and more. TikTok says that it will pay through 100% of these royalties to artists in the first year, and 90% after that point.

There are a number of interesting aspects to SoundOn. For example, what will the royalties be from TikTok? No public numbers yet, but the company says “you get paid based on how often your music is used in TikTok videos. The larger the amount of videos created with your track, the more you earn”.

SoundOn will also enable artists to upload their tracks to TikTok’s commercial music library, making it available for brands to use. For now, it is launching in the US, UK, Brazil and Indonesia for artists, while in the latter two markets, it will also provide accounts for labels to upload their catalogues, promising that they’ll keep “a competitive percentage of their earnings”.

TikTok’s SoundOn sits alongside SoundCloud’s Repost as an example of a digital music service (a DSP) offering direct uploads, but also distribution to other DSPs. Which begs the question – one posed by former Spotify exec J Herskowitz yesterday, in fact – of whether these models may create tensions in the near future.

“At some point, the streaming services will say “we don’t accept content from <competitive company’s> distribution service” because they will want to limit their access to that data,” was Herskowitz’s view. Stir Apple’s ownership of Platoon and investment in UnitedMasters, as well as Spotify’s stake in DistroKid (albeit a shrinking one) into this brewing issue too. Fun times ahead, perhaps!

In separate TikTok news, Insider Intelligence has published some research suggesting that the app is “eating into YouTube’s dominance” in the US.

“Among US teens ages 12 to 17, 87.6% will use YouTube monthly this year, while 65.3% will use TikTok, according to our forecasts,” it claimed. “YouTube’s penetration is reaching a ceiling, while TikTok’s is still rising fast; YouTube will rise just 1.5 percentage points this year compared with 2020, while TikTok will be up more than 13 points (from 51.7%).”

Written by: Stuart Dredge