TikTok targets independent musicians in its latest deal

19 Aug 2020

Image: © grthirteen/Stock.adobe.com

TikTok has partnered with UnitedMasters, an Andreessen Horowitz-backed music distribution start-up that aims to put musicians in control of their content.

Although TikTok’s future in the US remains unclear, the company is continuing to make deals with the goal of improving its app.

The latest is a partnership with music distribution company UnitedMasters. The deal will allow artists on the video-sharing platform to distribute their songs directly from the app to streaming services such as Apple Music, Spotify and YouTube.

The New York Times described the deal as “the most significant transaction to date” for TikTok’s new CEO, Kevin Mayer. Through the partnership, UnitedMasters becomes the first distributor to be fully integrated into the TikTok platform.

According to TikTok, the integration will enable “aspiring stars to fast-track their careers” in the music industry. TikTok will opt all music from its creators who join UnitedMasters into the platform’s commercial music library, with the artist’s permission, giving businesses access to a large catalogue of new sounds to use in their content.

The social media company also plans to partner with UnitedMasters to promote “key artists” on the platform.

TikTok music trends

Described as the music industry’s “new fame machine” by Rolling Stone, TikTok has made a significant impact on music trends over the last year. The platform has inspired Buzzfeed lists of the most viral songs on TikTok and think pieces about how the mobile app is transforming music discovery.

TikTok said that its latest deal takes advantage of this momentum and promises trending artists that they can translate their success on the platform into “career success”.

Through the UnitedMasters platform, artists can keep 90pc of their royalties from distribution and own their master recordings. Musicians can also choose to pay $5 a month to keep 100pc of their royalties.

The start-up was founded in 2017 by a former label executive and has received funding from Alphabet and Andreessen Horowitz.

Steve Stoute, CEO and founder of UnitedMasters, said: “If you are a musical artist, TikTok is the best place for your music to go viral and UnitedMasters is the best place to sustain it while retaining full ownership of your work. By combining the two, we create the platform for tomorrow’s stars.”

Mayer, the former Disney exec who joined TikTok as CEO earlier this year, added: “The new partnership with UnitedMasters makes it even easier for musicians and creators to reach new fans and earn a living doing what they love, directly from the platform.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic