What TikTok’s distro deal with UnitedMasters means for artists
TikTok now has a music distribution deal, meaning its creators can now distribute their music directly to streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube, SoundCloud and Apple Music.
The video clip-based social platform has partnered with independent distributor UnitedMasters, allowing artists on the platform to skip the process of signing with a label if they so choose.
As the New York Times points out, UnitedMasters also arranges deals with sports brands like ESPN and the NBA, and the deal has been hailed as the most significant transaction to date for TikTok CEO and ex-Disney exec Kevin Mayer.
One of the big benefits for artists who choose to go with UnitedMasters is that they’ll not only retain ownership of their masters, but also keep 90% of their royalties, a deal that few music labels would match.
In a statement TikTok said the agreement, which includes UnitedMasters promoting TikTok artists on its own video platform, aims to help artists move out of the bedroom and onto the charts.
“TikTok artists who are creating music in their bedrooms today will be featured in the Billboard charts tomorrow,” Ole Obermann, global head of Music at TikTok, said.
“Our mission is to help those artists achieve their creative potential and success. This partnership with UnitedMasters gives us a turn-key solution to help artists who are born on TikTok to reach their fans on every music service.”
While distribution company won’t be able to provide the full-service experience of a label, giving artists more options to get their music out there certainly increases their likelihood of success if they blow up on TikTok.
Of course, TikTok creators have already become deeply embedded in mainstream music in 2020.
Australian radio and streaming music charts have been dominated by acts that first popped on the platform, with the likes of Jawsh 685, BENEE, Jaycee, Doja Cat and many more reaching their highest positions on the TMN Hot 100 after big TikTok traction.
While the future of TikTok remains uncertain in several countries including the US (after President Trump ordered owner ByteDance to divest its US operations), the app currently faces no such opposition in Australia.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected claims that the Chinese government may be able access user data from the app.
“There’s nothing at this point that would suggest to us that security interests are being compromised, or Australian citizens are being compromised,” Morrison said.
“We’ll obviously keep watching them, but there’s no evidence to suggest to us today that [a ban] is a step that is necessary.”