In this article, we will take a comprehensive look at TikTok. The video sharing platform has managed to overtake social media icons such as Facebook and Instagram… seemingly out of nowhere! TikTok is taking the world by storm and heavily influencing various types of social media, particularly for younger generations. For the music industry, it’s been interesting to see how songs have gone viral thanks to the platform. However, there is one question on everyone’s mind: does TikTok pay you for your music? In this article, we will look at TikTok music royalties and discuss how TikTok pays you for your music.
First of all, if you don’t know much about Tik Tok, it’s an app with 800 million active users. TikTok has been growing in popularity recently, especially amongst younger generations, who have taken to it quickly. The platform offers short videos for comedy purposes, video challenges, dance routines that include certain songs etc. A lot of songs have had a massive boost from going viral on TikTok. This happens particularly when millions of people recreate the dance/challenge with the same music. That’s why it’s important to ensure your music is on the platform, and even make your own sounds on TikTok. But aside from your track potentially going viral, do you actually get paid when Tik Tok users use your music?
In short, yes. TikTok allows its users to create and share short, maximum 15-second length videos featuring licensed music. The current method of royalty payment is by each posted video. However, popular videos achieve enormous volumes of views due to the repeatability of the videos. Therefore, this may not be fair compared to the streaming platform models where artists are paid based on streams/views.
Your music will generate royalties, as it does with any usage. Be a member of one of the P.R.O.(Performing Rights Organisations) in your territory, and either work with a music publisher or self-publish your music through a distributor. Like Spotify and YouTube, you’ll see TikTok in your quarterly royalty statements sent out by the P.R.O.
As a side note, I strongly recommend checking companies like Music Reports, Inc., or Harry Fox Agency. Those companies collect and license royalties on behalf of songwriters and publishers, and also act as a licensing agent for digital services. You will receive either a bi-yearly or yearly check with your TikTok royalties if you are self-published.
You get paid a proportionate share of TikTok’s subscription revenue per month calculated on terms set out in your distributor’s blanket contract with TikTok. This happens when a subscriber uses your song in their video. When your music is available on TikTok, you will be giving millions of users consent to use your music in their videos. Your distributor collects revenue quarterly based on usage, which means you get paid each time your song is used on a TikTok video.
To shed some light on how much TikTok pays, I have reached out to music publisher and OrchardGo distribution partner Hit Songs Group DBA. They have kindly agreed to disclose some live figures from the 2019 TikTok statements.
From the table below, we can see that in June 2019, 1830 videos using music from the Hit Songs Group DBA catalog (not the video views for each video, but the number of the actual total of videos using one or more songs) have generated just over $56. In June 2018, 1088 videos using songs from the catalog have made a bit more than $7.3.
Based on the above, TikTok royalties were close to $0.0067 per view in 2018, and $0.030 per view in June 2019. Based on these figures, 100,000 views would generate approximately $3000 in revenue.
There are no distinct differences between distributors when it comes to getting the ‘best’ distribution to TikTok. Keep in mind that TikTok pays bi-yearly (or yearly) depending on the music catalog size of the label or artist. Because of this, in certain situations, labels agree to do a ‘buyout blanket license” with streaming platforms. When this happens, the label (or the artist) grants access to a bundle of songs, with a payment up front to distribute it.
So, how does TikTok match up to other streaming services? Spotify and Amazon Music, for example, pay artists royalties on a quarterly basis. Therefore, royalties from TikTok aren’t paid as frequently as others, unless you receive payment upfront as discussed above.
No matter the current business model used by TikTok to pay artists and labels, this app is great way to get artists’ music out there. It also completely bypasses the traditional gatekeepers (record labels, management, etc).
This is both good and bad news. Having your music accessible on TikTok can make you go viral quickly, and not generate any significant monetary revenue. I think that TikTok is perfect for artists that have a 360-degree presence, and consider themselves both content creators and influencers. As mentioned earlier, a large portion of TikTok’s audience is young. This makes the community receptive to songs with a strong social impact, and catchy tunes suitable for challenges where users can engage in duets.
TikTok is also one of few apps that allows crossing to share its videos on any social media platforms alongside SMS, Whatsapp, and Email. If you’re looking to get signed to major labels, remember that they are currently signing artists with songs performing well on TikTok.
Lastly, TikTok reminds artists the importance of ensuring their content is protected and ‘stamped’ with your logo or artist name. Several unauthorised websites allow conversion of TikTok videos into mp3s, and some of the most popular videos on TikTok have the “Save Video” option enabled. This allows users to save their favourite videos and featured songs on their smartphones.
Getting your music onto TikTok is something that all artists should consider. it is a great way to get your music noticed, especially with the platform’s popularity rising every day. I hope that this has clarified how videos from TikTok make money, and how that money is then distributed to artists.
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