TikTok has already achieved massive influence in today’s music industry, sending songs that find popularity on the app to the top of the Billboard charts. Now the company is launching its own music marketing and distribution platform, SoundOn, to help more artists get their music heard. The new platform allows artists to upload their music directly to TikTok and to parent company ByteDance’s own music streaming service Resso, in addition to global streaming platforms including Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, and Tencent’s Joox.
This distribution is provided free of charge and all transaction fees are being waived by the platform. TikTok says SoundOn will pay 100% of royalties to music creators for an unlimited time on Bytedance-owned platforms. This includes distribution to TikTok; plus Resso in Brazil, Indonesia, and India; and to ByteDance’s video editor app, CapCut.
For global streaming services, the payout is also 100% in the artist’s first year, but will drop to 90% in year two and beyond. By comparison, competitor DistroKid charges artists and labels on a subscription basis, while allowing artists to keep 100% of their earnings. TuneCore, meanwhile, charges for distribution on a per-song or per-album basis, but also promises artists keep 100% of streaming revenues.
According to SoundOn’s FAQ, artists will retain all rights and royalties, meaning they’ll own their masters in addition to receiving 100% of royalties (or later, 90%).
Beyond its handling the mechanics of music distribution, SoundOn offers other promotional tools and support, including audience insights and development, advice from the SoundOn marketing team, access to TikTok’s song tab (where music is linked on profile pages), TikTok verification, editorial placements on Resso and Capcut, and promotional support through creator marketing on TikTok’s platform.
The SoundOn website notes that releasing through its platform will get tracks in front of TikTok creators.
“TikTok creators are the lifeblood of our platform and the reason sounds become hits,” the website explains. “When you release through our platform, our team will activate diverse creators to make videos with your track. This helps you broaden your fanbase and reach new communities that these creators are a part of.”
The TikTok marketing aspect to SoundOn’s value proposition could make the service particularly appealing to new and emerging artists, as they understand that being given an extra push on TikTok can help them to break out and reach a wider audience, thanks to TikTok’s viral trends. Fans then follow artists on music streaming services, where that loyalty is converted into actual dollars and cents.
“New artists and musical creators are a vibrant community within TikTok and SoundOn is designed to support them as they take the first steps in their career,” said Ole Obermann, Global Head of Music at TikTok, in a statement about the launch. “Our SoundOn teams will guide creators on their journey to the big stage and bring the expertise and power of TikTok to life for the artist. We’re incredibly excited about how this will surface and propel new talent and how SoundOn will contribute to an increasingly diverse and growing global music industry.”
The SoundOn platform had been in beta testing since last fall, and is now fully available in the U.S., U.K., Brazil and Indonesia, with an undisclosed number of artists and creators already using the service, including Muni Long, Games We Play, Abby Roberts and Chloe Adams in the U.K.
SoundOn is not TikTok’s first move into the music distribution space. The company in 2020 announced a deal with UnitedMasters, which became the first music distribution company to be integrated into TikTok.
ByteDance’s expansion into music distribution is not unusual for streaming service operators. Apple invested in UnitedMasters last year, for example, which also has large deals with the NBA and ESPN, in addition to TikTok. And Spotify has a small stake in DistroKid — though it sold off two-thirds of that stake for $167 million last fall.