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SoundOn: Does TikTok want to compete with Spotify?

SoundOn is TikTok's new all-in-one platform for music creators, allowing them to upload their tracks directly to TikTok and thus share them with other streaming platforms. TikTok promises musicians a worldwide audience and 100% ownership as well as 100% of royalties. In this regard, the new platform is particularly attractive for as yet unknown artists without a record deal who want to increase their reach.

soundOn by TikTok
soundOn by TikTok

Already, TikTok is having a significant impact on today’s music industry – because if a song gains popularity on the platform, it’s almost guaranteed to jump to the top of the Billboard charts. So with SoundOn, Chinese parent company ByteDance is now offering artists the means to market and distribute their music. In addition to TikTok, music creators can also upload their productions to TikTok’s own music streaming service Resso and ByteDance itself. Additionally, StreamOn is linked to global streaming platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer and Tencent’s Joox.

Good to know: ByteDance is the Chinese tech company behind the video app TikTok. Resso is the group’s first standalone music streaming platform, which launched in 2019 and is currently available in India, Brazil, and Indonesia.

100% royalty for musicians

So SoundOn is now enticing users with free distribution. So the platform waives all transaction fees and ByteDance, TikTok and Resso in Brazil, Indonesia and India and ByteDance’s video editor app CapCut for royalties indefinitely. If the music is remarketed to streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and Pandora, SoundOn promises to pay 100% of the royalties to musicians in the first year, 90% thereafter.

In addition, artists will be verified on TikTok, allowing users to click on their profile, which will appear below the song pages of their tracks. Also, according to their FAQ page, SoundOn guarantees musicians full rights to their music, and they are not even required to use SoundOn exclusively in the process.  

Global Head of Music at TikTok Ole Obermann said, “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. 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.”

It may come as no surprise to savvy social media users that ByteDance is now moving into music distribution with SoundOn after Resso, as the video app is inextricably linked to music through lip sync battles and dance competitions, for example.

Unlike Resso, however, SoundOn is targeting smaller, unsigned artists who may struggle to manage multiple streaming services at once or can’t afford the high annual fees and profit sharing on competing services.

Initially, TikTok’s new music platform was beta tested in Brazil and Indonesia. Now SoundOn is available in the US, UK, Brazil and Indonesia. Musicians from these countries can simply register on the company’s website.

Get started with these three easy steps

It’s easy to create an account on SoundOn, of course. First, artists register with their phone number on the SoundOn website, whereupon they must confirm their identity with an artist photo, ID card scan, and other personal information. Through Docusign, the agreement is signed via email.

This license agreement requires musicians to upload their music to TikTok and exclusive partners or distribute it on global platforms. The latter is done on a voluntary basis, more details are offered by the contract itself. However, as mentioned, the license with SoundOn is non-exclusive, so musicians can also use other distributors, while the same track can only be uploaded once on the same streaming service, however. In concrete terms, this means that if you publish a song on Spotify, this title cannot be published again on Spotify via another distributor. Switching from one to the other is again possible.

In its FAQs, SoundOn warns artists to check their licensing before signing a contract. If exclusive licensing exists with a distributor, artists can’t join SoundOn right now. Instead, they can join the waiting list for marketing services. Also uploading is impossible if tracks have already been distributed to TikTok or Resso, because duplicated tracks will be rejected.

Brazilian, Indonesian, American and British labels also have the chance to create an account on SoundOn. Labels will also then keep a competitive share of the revenue, which will be displayed by track and artist or for all of them together. For more details, SoundOn asks interested labels to contact them directly.

Support for undiscovered artists

As Obermann said, SoundOn is keen to support young and undiscovered artists and give their careers a big push. With enhanced dashboards, creators can gain insights into their audience and fans, leverage trends to grow their TikTok and Resso profiles, and also get a chance to be included in SoundOn+. The platform’s premium program is available exclusively to a select group of artists who go viral on TikTok.

After successful registration, creators are assigned a SoundOn representative who, according to the FAQ, are all industry experts and TikTok and Resso insiders with years of experience in music sales and marketing. Individual attention is the main focus, as the Expert listens to the music and then helps to promote its potential. Likewise, they strive to increase the fan base. The stated goal is to promote the artists to the mainstream.

SoundOn TikTok

Last fall, Rebecca Nora also joined SoundOn. She is Brazilian “chill underground alternative pop” singer without a record deal. Until then, she had difficulty marketing her music due to her genre category and without a music label. Then and now, she found support for her music at SoundOn. So they developed a marketing and audience strategy for her releases and personally recommended songs to Spotify playlists and other curators. She says, “He gets my music and my ideas and is really invested in it. That’s something that didn’t happen before, and I didn’t know when it would happen. I guess I would have to be a bigger [artist].”

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