TikTok has already made a huge impact 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 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 waived by the platform. TikTok says SoundOn will pay 100% of royalties to music creators indefinitely on platforms owned by ByteDance. This includes distribution to TikTok; plus Resso in Brazil, Indonesia and India; and to ByteDance’s video editing app, CapCut.
For global streaming services, the payout is also 100% in the artist’s first year, but will drop to 90% in the second year and beyond. In comparison, competitor DistroKid charges artists and labels on a subscription basis, while allowing artists to keep 100% of their revenue. TuneCore, meanwhile, charges distribution on a per-song or album basis, but also promises artists to keep 100% of streaming revenue.
According to the SoundOn FAQ, artists will retain all rights and royalties, meaning they will own their masters in addition to receiving 100% of royalties (or later 90%).
In addition to managing the mechanics of music distribution, SoundOn offers other promotional tools and support, including audience insights and development, advice from SoundOn’s marketing team, access to the TikTok song section (where music is linked on profile pages), verification on TikTok, editorial placements on Resso and CapCut, and promotional support through creator marketing on the TikTok platform.
The website SoundOn notes that releasing through its platform will get songs before 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 enable different creators to make videos with your song. This helps you grow your fanbase and reach new communities that these creators are a part of.”
TikTok’s marketing aspect to SoundOn’s value proposition could make the service particularly attractive to new and emerging artists, as they understand that getting an extra push on TikTok can help them break through and reach a wider audience thanks to viral trends on TikTok. Fans then follow artists on music streaming services, where that loyalty is converted into actual dollars and cents.
“Emerging artists and music creators are a vibrant community within TikTok, and SoundOn is designed to support them as they take the first steps in their careers,” said Ole Obermann, Global Head of Music at TikTok, in a statement about the launch. “Our SoundOn teams will guide creators on their way to the big stage and bring the expertise and power of TikTok to life for the artist. We are extremely excited about how this will emerge and drive new talent and how SoundOn will contribute to an increasingly diverse and growing global music industry.”
The SoundOn platform has been in beta testing since last fall and is now fully available in the US, UK, 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 UK
SoundOn isn’t TikTok’s first move into the music distribution space. In 2020, the company announced a deal with UnitedMasters, which became the first music distribution company 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 big deals with the NBA and ESPN, in addition to TikTok. And Spotify has a small stake in DistroKid — though it sold two-thirds of that stake for $167 million last fall.
TikTok says interested artists can now sign up for SoundOn at us.soundon.global or soundon.global.