Imagine, for just a second, that you’re a talented musician with a little bit of traction on Soundcloud, a handful of streams on Spotify, but no real way to make money off your tunes—but all of a sudden your single gets used as a sound over 5 million times on TikTok. And, the best part of it all? You actually make some real money off of its success.
This is the experience that SoundOn, a new platform from the TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, has launched. After a Beta testing period, this new platform for music distribution and marketing is now available in the US, UK, Brazil and Indonesia. According to a release on TikTok’s site, SoundOn’s mission is “enabling artists to grow their fanbases, harness their creative voice and get their music heard worldwide.”
Basically, artists can now upload their music directly to TikTok, making it into a sound that can be used by any content creator on the app, and the music creator will begin earning royalties when that sound is used. The pay structure promised is 100% of royalties for the first year and 90% in the years that follow, with a $0 distribution cost. Which sounds great in theory, as it allows artists to keep all of their funds in that first year, only paying back 10% after that. But the details are still a bit murky in terms of just how much those royalties are and, if they’re in-line with the rates of other digital platforms, will likely offer pretty low payouts. However, if your sound does get a few million plays, those small fees will certainly add up pretty quickly.
“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,” says Ole Overmann, the Global Head of Music at TikTok. And it’s true, the app wants to help propel their artists to the next level, helping the top artists secure record deals or get meetings with co-writers to help create their next viral hit.
Rebecca Nora, a Brazilian chill alt pop musician was an early SoundOn adopter, saying she pulled in around $82 in March 2022 from the platform. She went on to share her first-hand experience on SoundOn with Rest of World. The article explains: “She was assigned a SoundOn representative who helped her develop a marketing and audience engagement strategy for releases.” According to Nora, her rep went on to pitch her songs to industry insiders, including curators who create Spotify playlists. This type of uplift is exactly what an unsigned, unknown musical talent needs to get their work heard by the world.
Another positive for burgeoning talent? They’ll be able to retain all of their rights to their original songs while reaping those TikTok royalties. This is currently a buzzy topic in the industry, as Taylor Swift rerecords her masters, which were briefly owned by Scooter Braun after he bought Machine Records, the independent label where she got her start (Braun has since sold her masters to Shamrock Holdings for $300 million). Not only did this deal make it nearly impossible for Swift to purchase back her master recordings but Big Machine began distributing some of her never before released music—without her consent. This ongoing scandal had shed light on the potential downside of signing with a label. Sure, it’s an experience that comes with the promise of exposure and success, but also a lack of independence and the inability to retain ownership over their IP.
At this moment in time, anyone can sign up to become a SoundOn artist…which means there’s truly been no better time to record that song you wrote in high school and finally release it to the world to make a few extra bucks.