Photo by Nik on Unsplash

In February, we wondered aloud whether the music business is ready for a world of conversational search AIs, including its potential impact on how music and artists are discovered.

Here’s some more food for thought on that topic: TikTok is testing an in-app chatbot called Tako that can answer questions about videos and recommend other content. It was revealed by Watchful, a company that specialises in spotting new features being tested in popular apps.

“Tako could completely transform the way users navigate TikTok. By engaging in direct dialogue with each user, Tako can recommend the most relevant content to watch or creators to follow, based on the videos watched and the questions asked,” was its take on the potential significance.

For its part, TikTok has tried to manage expectations for the test. “We’re in the early stages of exploring chatbot tools with a limited test of Tako with select users in the Philippines. Tako is an AI-powered tool to help with search and discovery on TikTok,” its comms team tweeted.

“Tako is powered by a third-party chat assistant and is designed to help make it easier to discover entertaining and inspiring content on TikTok. No current plans for this beyond these early tests, but we’re excited to hear your feedback!”

It’s an early glimpse at how integrating a conversational AI into an entertainment app could work. There’s an interesting dynamic here too. TikTok’s famous ‘For You’ feed is currently being copied and adapted by big music streaming services (see today’s story about YouTube Music for the latest example).

Yet TikTok is seemingly already testing the next potential leap forward for in-app recommendations: conversational AI. We fully expect the big music streaming services to follow suit in exploring this too though.

As we put it in February: “At some point will you find yourself chatting to a SpotifyGPT bot as if it were a – absolute peak Gen-X reference incoming! – wise record-store clerk quizzing you on your tastes then giving you suggestions?”

It seems a TikTokGPT bot (that’s our shorthand: we don’t know if ChatGPT is the “third-party chat assistant” being used by TikTok) may get there first. If and when Tako rolls out beyond the Philipines it will be worth following closely.

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Music Ally's Head of Insight