TikTok Music app would expand social media music dominance


TikTok’s fingerprints have been all over the music world lately, with the video-sharing app catapulting artists to the top of the charts.

The Culver City-based company’s influence on the industry may soon grow. Parent company ByteDance is seeking to trademark “TikTok Music,” a trademark that could be slapped on a mobile app that lets users “buy, play, share, download music,” according to the app. branding of the company, which was first reported by Business Insider.

The app’s description sounds a lot like Spotify or Apple Music, suggesting TikTok is considering a foray into streaming after becoming a music discovery hub. Other potential use cases include apps that “live stream audio and video,” provide “podcast and radio” selections, or come with “a karaoke function,” according to the claim, which has was submitted in May.

TikTok did not return dot.LA’s request for comment, so it’s unclear exactly what the company has in mind. Either way, it would likely further cement TikTok — and social media in general — as a dominant force in music.

This week, Snap learned that Santa Monica-based Snap is betting more on music, with plans to financially support independent artists distributing songs on its platform. The struggling social media giant has launched a creator fund to provide monthly grants of up to $100,000 to artists who distribute music on Snapchat through digital music distributor DistroKid. The fund follows Snap’s deployment of augmented reality experiences at concerts hosted by Beverly Hills-based Live Nation.

Social media sites dating back to MySpace have helped artists promote and distribute their music. But the abbreviated nature of TikTok’s videos makes them a particularly useful vehicle for music discovery, giving viewers just a taste of a track and leaving them wanting more. Singer Olivia Rodrigo, rapper Lil Nas X and other pop stars can credit TikTok with making them household names.

The music industry has taken notice. Record labels promote their music on TikTok, while artists write songs tailored to the app’s memes and trends. Some labels are even using TikTok engagement as a data point to decide which artists to sign, according to New York University professor Howie Singer, who teaches data analytics in music. Singer Halsey recently claimed that their label needs a TikTok boost before letting them release new music.

A standalone TikTok music app could build on the platform’s reputation as a place to discover new songs or artists. Currently, fans listening to a clip on TikTok must visit YouTube, Spotify or another site to listen to the rest of the song. A “TikTok Music” app could change that.

“It could be a way for them to keep those users in their app and let them listen to the whole song there,” Singer said. “It could also reduce the friction of going to listen to the whole song, because you don’t have to launch another app.”

While artists like Halsey have raised legitimate concerns about the growing influence of social media on music, online platforms have helped emerging artists. That’s especially true for independent artists who aren’t interested in major-label backing, said Tim Sommer, music journalist and former creative director at Atlantic Records.

“When someone tells me there’s going to be a new place for music — a new streaming service, a new platform — what I can think of is ‘awesome,'” Sommer said, “it’s is another way for an artist to directly reach the person who wants to hear their music.

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