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How Brands License Music for TikTok

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How Brands License Music for TikTok

By Amanda Levine, Senior Director of Music

Many brands have embraced TikTok as a marketing platform, especially brands that are targeting Gen Z. Young users have made it a home for creative expression through videos that riff on entertaining and joyful moments, and music is often central to that content – so much that the platform has become a powerful engine of music discovery and rediscovery.

Our aim is to help you better understand how to properly secure that music for branded content. There are two primary ways: use TikTok’s royalty-free song catalog or license more well-known songs from their respective rights holders. Here are the most important things to know about each tactic.

TikTok’s Commercial Library

TikTok has a proprietary royalty-free music library of 60,000 songs they call the “Commercial Library.” Anybody on the platform, including brands, can use these songs free of charge. Music from this library can be used by brands creating TikTok content and/or influencers hired to create content on behalf of the brand.

WHAT TO KNOW:

  • ­The songs in the Commercial Library catalog have been licensed by TikTok with the purpose of being used on the platform for all purposes. Most of the songs and artists in this library are not currently signed to major record or publishing companies.
  • As artists in this library become more popular and sign to larger music companies, their songs may disappear from the library. If that happens, songs you’ve used will not be impacted and will remain in your content on TikTok, and you will not need additional approvals or payments for the usage.
  • Songs in the library are refreshed regularly, and you should check back often to see what might be newly available for use in future projects and what may have disappeared.
  • While TikTok assures us that brand usage of songs in this library is royalty-free, there is no written documentation that states this explicitly. The best they offer is a posted disclaimer regarding usage of the “Audio Library” which most likely won’t appease many brands’ legal departments.
Olay’s #SpaDeOlay campaign used the song “Absolutely Anything” by OR30.

Songs Not in TikTok’s Commercial Library

Using songs not in the Commercial Library must be licensed for use on TikTok, just like on any other media platform. Here’s a primer on music licensing. Upon securing a music license, the song should be properly “ingested” into TikTok via your TikTok rep.

WHAT TO DO:

  • ­Allow up to one week for the ingestion process prior to the campaign.
  • Once ingested, TikTok will “white label” it and send back to you.
  • Don’t upload the song yourself. It should come from the rights holders to ensure that it is properly labeled in the system.
  • For brand marketing such as a “hashtag challenge,” even if previously ingested, the song should be re-ingested and tagged specifically for the campaign.
  • Accordingly, brands should ask all influencers who are partnering to use the officially ingested track instead of uploading it themselves, in order to ensure proper performance tracking and preserve song quality.
“Dream Baby Dream” by Karen O was used for Gap’s #ShareTheGapDream holiday campaign.

If you need help, give us a call! And, see more of our TikTok related content here.


Amanda Levine is a senior director of music, based in TMA’s New York hub.

[Header Image Credit: Mashable India]

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