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Given recent rumblings around its licensing deals, a headline claiming ‘TikTok Tests Exclusive Deals With Music Artists, Edging Into Labels’ Turf‘ is calculated to make waves in the music industry.

How big a deal is it really though?

“TikTok has been pursuing dozens of artists to exclusively distribute their work through its one-year-old service, SoundOn, in custom deals that are more typical of major record labels,” reported tech industry site The Information, citing rapper K Camp (of ‘Renegade’ TikTok-meme fame) as one example.

Note, the article also includes a quote from ByteDance’s Ole Obermann explicitly denying that this is about becoming a label.

“Being a music label is a big, complicated, expensive endeavour and it just doesn’t fit into our strategy,” said the former WMG executive.

SoundOn has traditionally been seen as a play for brand new, emerging (and often TikTok-native) artists, so the news here appears to be the company stepping up its efforts to include more established musicians too.

Hardly a surprise, especially if (like K Camp) those are musicians who’ve already enjoyed a bump from TikTok virality.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight