J-Lo and Maluma’s #PatiChallenge races to 1.2bn TikTok views (but…)

Well, it sort of has, and sort of hasn’t. We’ll explain. Last week we reported on the marketing campaign around Jennifer Lopez and Maluma’s new singles ‘Pa Ti’ and ‘Lonely’, including a #PatiChallenge on TikTok launched with influencer Charli D’Amelio. Her video has been watched 24.4m times so far, but videos using the challenge’s hashtag have racked […]

Judge blocks Trump administration’s TikTok app stores ban

Wake up, take a look at the US app stores (if you can) and see that… TikTok remains available to download. That’s because a US District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction last night to prevent the Trump administration’s proposed ban on new downloads of the app from taking effect. The judge’s written explanation of the ruling […]

M to the B, Bella Poarch, and a tale of TikTok virality

“If you don’t know me I’m M to the B / Coming in hard, you better watch it Sophie…” If those lyrics mean nothing to you, then you clearly aren’t an aficionado of the mid-2010s Blackpool grime scene, nor do you have a tweenage TikTok fan in your household. The lyrics are from a 2016 […]

Jennifer Lopez and Maluma held a YouTube premiere ‘afterparty’

Jennifer Lopez and Maluma have just released a pair of singles together: ‘Pa Ti’ and ‘Lonely’, and like a growing number of artists, they unveiled the music videos in a YouTube premiere, yesterday. However, they also held an afterparty (a #PaTiAfterParty in hashtag form) which saw J-Lo and Maluma chatting about the collaborations, promoting their upcoming movie […]

TuneCore encourages artists to upload music to TikTok for free

The latest distributor to announce a partnership with TikTok is TuneCore, which hopes its latest promotion will tempt more artists into putting their music on the social app. Between 22 and 29 September, TuneCore artists can upload a track to TikTok for free. This follows the deal signed with TikTok by TuneCore’s parent company Believe in July, […]

China blast for TikTok deal as ‘dirty and underhanded trick’

President Trump may have tentatively approved TikTok’s deal to avoid a ban in the US, but what will the Chinese government make of it? Judging by state-media outlet China Daily’s blistering editorial column this morning – title: ‘No disguising proposed TikTok deal is a dirty and underhanded trick’ – the omens aren’t good. “What the United States has done […]

TikTok US ban postponed as Trump approves Oracle/Walmart deal

It’s been another topsy-turvy weekend in the US for TikTok. On Friday, the Department of Commerce announced that as of 20 September (Sunday) US app stores would be banned from making the app available to download, or for it to be updated for existing users. Yet on Saturday, the department announced that “in the light of recent positive developments” […]

Sandbox Issue 260: Twitch for Artists

Lead: Twitch for artists – Artists were drifting towards livestreaming platform Twitch before COVID-19 hit, and Twitch has been making overtures to musicians for a while. But since live performance was halted, interest in the platform has never been higher, and Twitch is welcoming artists – and their fans – with open arms. But Twitch demands […]

The latest TikTok twist: plans for a standalone company?

The deadline is approaching for TikTok to be sold, shut down, or find an alternative solution that satisfies President Trump’s administration. After tech firm Oracle said it was part of a proposal submitted to the administration as a “trusted technology provider”, more details have emerged of the plan. “ByteDance will place TikTok’s global business in […]

TikTok battles to remove a graphic video showing a death

The latest TikTok controversy doesn’t involve music, or even Donald Trump. Instead, it’s about a video of a man shooting himself, which has been shared by a number of popular meme accounts on the app (that’s a link to a news article about this: we’re not going to link to any of the clips) even as TikTok’s […]

TikTok gets five-day premiere of David Guetta and Sia’s Let’s Love

A moment of relief for TikTok executives: a music story making headlines, rather than the latest revelation about the company’s potential sale or ban in the US. TikTok is getting a “five-day premiere” of the new single from David Guetta and Sia, and it’s a useful pointer to how the app is developing as a […]

Patent filing: Spotify experimenting with TikTok-like user-generated videos

Spotify has filed a patent for a feature that would allow users to create “video moments” with accompanying music within the Spotify app, Digital Music News reports. The short videos, with high-quality embedded music, would be sharable outside of the app and would be discoverable alongside the song itself: so searching for a song could also […]

TikTok adds creator merchandise sales integration with Teespring

Apps are fond of keeping users within the app, and creators like to ping fans all over the internet to where they can get them to pay for things. To strike a balance, TikTok has followed Youtube and Twitch in partnering with Teespring to allow TikTok’s creators to sell merch they’ve created on Teespring within TikTok, […]

TikTok sale announcement could come as soon as next week

Strap in: the TikTok sale process may be even speedier than President Trump expected. CNBC reported today that TikTok is “nearing an agreement” to sell its operations in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – as soon as next week. Its sources claimed that the deal could be worth between $20bn and $30bn, but […]

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer resigns three months into the job

We promised you twists in this tale. TikTok is taking to the courts to battle the Trump administration’s executive order forcing its sale or shutdown in the US, but it will be doing so without its recently appointed CEO. Former Disney executive Kevin Mayer has resigned barely three months after taking the reins at TikTok […]

How do social media camera filters work, how much do they cost to make, and are they worth the investment?

In 2020 you’re nothing in the music industry without your own custom AR filter, layering brightly covered digital swirls over camera displays. Legendary artists such as Prince, Pink Floyd and The Beatles have all launched their own filters on social networks – the Prince estate offering a Purple Rain filter on TikTok and WMG’s Firepit […]

Dua Lipa launches #DuaVideo fan challenge with TikTok

Dua Lipa is the latest major artist to launch a TikTok challenge, but in her case, she’s looking for fans to appear in her next proper music video. The challenge is #DuaVideo and runs for a week, having been launched yesterday with a video by Dua herself. Fans are being challenged to submit clips showing their creative skills […]

TikTok’s Trump lawsuit reveals it has 689m users worldwide

TikTok has followed through on its promise to sue President Trump’s administration over its recent executive order setting a deadline for the app’s US operations to be sold or shut down. The lawsuit includes some important new figures on TikTok’s business globally, as well as in the US.  Globally, TikTok grew from 54.8 million monthly active […]

Oracle gets support for its TikTok bid… from President Trump

We do try to choose our words carefully when writing about the world of politics, but it seems increasingly uncontroversial to suggest that the process around the potential sale of TikTok’s US operations… well, it stinks. First President Trump suggested that the US Treasury should get a piece of the transaction that’s been enforced by […]

Trump sets new deadline of 12 November for TikTok US sale

Earlier this month, President Trump set a 45-day deadline after which transactions by US companies with ByteDance or Tencent’s WeChat would be banned. That was seen as a deadline for a sale of TikTok’s US operations, but now a new executive order from the president has set a longer deadline for that. ByteDance has been ordered do divest all […]

10 talking points around kids, music and technology in 2020

Last month, Music Ally took part in the BPI and ERA’s New Kids on the Block online event, looking at children’s digital habits and what they mean for music. Research company Kids Insights produced a report for the event too, which has been published today. We contributed a section on some of the interesting stories […]

Separating TikTok from ByteDance won’t be done in 45 days

Who’d have thought it: untangling a company from its parent corporation takes time. Reuters is reporting that if Microsoft wants to buy TikTok within President Trump’s 45-day deadline, it will surely have to negotiate more time to actually separate the social app from ByteDance. “A technically complex endeavor that could test the patience of President Donald Trump’s […]

Simon Fuller will launch his next pop group… with TikTok

Entertainment mogul and ‘Idol’ founder Simon Fuller has been busy with his multi-national pop band Now United in recent years, but now he’s got a new project on the go. It’s a partnership with TikTok to put a new group together. The press release doesn’t have many details other than the promise of an “in-app audition process on TikTok”, […]

TikTok rivals continue to see spike in US downloads

Events around TikTok and its proposed ban in the US are moving so fast, any data on how consumers are responding risks being out of date as soon as it’s published. Still, Sensor Tower has some new numbers on how TikTok’s rivals are benefitting from the uncertainty. “As talk of a ban ramped up from […]

Executive order bans US transactions with ByteDance… and Tencent

As promised, President Trump has signed an executive order banning all transactions by US companies with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance. However, a separate order extends the ban to messaging app WeChat AND its parent company Tencent – including “any subsidiary of that entity”. Strap yourselves in. Given Tencent’s web of investments in and from music industry […]

WMG boss: ‘We’re very happy that Spotify is investing in podcasting’

Having published its latest financial results this morning, Warner Music Group held its quarterly earnings call this afternoon, with CEO Steve Cooper and CFO Eric Levin fielding questions from analysis. One of those questions focused on Spotify’s podcasts expansion, and whether it’s causing tensions around the potential impact on royalties paid out to companies like […]

Microsoft in talks to buy TikTok in US and other countries

Events have moved fast since Friday for TikTok’s business in the US, it’s fair to say. We’ll start with the latest news: confirmation from Microsoft that it’s in talks about an acquisition of TikTok in the US and certain other countries, with a mid-September deadline to reach an agreement with the app’s parent company ByteDance […]

Influencers firm TalentX gets into the record label business

Will Josh Richards be the next new music star to emerge on TikTok? TalentX certainly hopes so. It’s the digital talent management company behind influencer collective Sway LA, of which Richards is a member, and he’s the first signing to the company’s new label TalentX Records. It’s a partnership with Warner Records, which it claims […]

TikTok launches a $200m ‘creator fund’ in the US

TikTok is paying a growing number of music creators through its licensing deals – see this week’s agreements with Believe and the NMPA for the latest on that. Now the social app is launching a $200m fund in the US for ‘creators’ more generally – as in people creating videos on its platform. “We’re launching the TikTok Creator Fund to encourage those […]

TikTok signs licensing deal with US publishing body NMPA

Another day, another licensing deal for TikTok, and this one’s a biggie. It’s signed a global, multi-year agreement with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) in the US. That’s big because the NMPA has been rattling its sabre at TikTok for some time over licensing, with publishers angry at the lack of royalties coming their […]

TikTok star Addison Rae is launching a podcast on Spotify

Joe Rogan, Kim Kardashian West, Michelle Obama… and now Addison Rae. Spotify’s lineup of podcast exclusives continues to swell, with Rae the latest to join its roster. She’s currently the second most popular star on TikTok with 51.4 million followers – behind only Charli D’Amelio’s 72.6 million – and now she has a deal with Spotify’s […]

Indian TikTok rival Roposo is adding 500k new users an hour

TikTok remains banned in India, and some of the rival short-form video services there are enjoying their moment in the sun as a result. One of them, Roposo, has given some startling figures to Bloomberg on its growth in the wake of the ban. “It’s peaking at 500,000 new users an hour and expects to […]

Jason DeRulo makes ‘far more’ than $75k per TikTok post

Apparently rumours on Twitter have suggested that music artist Jason DeRulo earns around $75k for every TikTok video that he posts. Complex went to the horse’s mouth to establish whether it’s true, asking DeRulo about it in an interview. “I think it’s tacky to say what I do make from them, but it’s far more than […]

Ashnikko’s new track has a Beats by Dre and TikTok partnership

Artist Ashnikko’s breakthrough last year was fuelled by TikTok, when her track ‘Stupid’ went viral. Now, for her new track ‘Daisy’ she is prioritising the platform – this time with Apple’s music hardware brand Beats by Dre on board as a marketing partner. That means a music video with prominent placement for the new PowerbeatsPro headphones, […]

TikTok was world’s most downloaded non-gaming app in June

Analytics firm Sensor Tower has published its latest rankings for mobile apps, reporting that TikTok was the most downloaded non-gaming app globally in June 2020, ahead of Zoom and Facebook. The company claims that TikTok was downloaded more than 87m times across Apple and Google’s app stores, up 52.7% year-on-year. However, its top two markets […]

After India ban, TikTok could face further sanctions in US

TikTok and its parent company ByteDance have been hit by a ban in India as part of a wider crackdown on apps of Chinese origin. But there may be trouble brewing for the companies in the US, too, due both to the political jockeying around hardball trade negotiations between the US and China, and specific […]

ByteDance warns of $6bn lost revenue from India apps ban

There’s a big, startling figure in the latest story about the Indian government’s decision to ban 59 Chinese-origin apps, including TikTok. “An insider at TikTok parent ByteDance is telling Caixin the ban could come with a heavy price tag, costing the company more than $6 billion in lost revenue — a sum greater than all […]

Report: global app spending was $50bn in first half of 2020

Could a global pandemic take the shine off the growth in the amount of money people spend on and within mobile apps? It could not. “Consumers spent a combined total of $50.1 billion worldwide on the App Store and Google Play in the first half of 2020,” claimed app analytics firm Sensor Tower. “This was 23.4 […]

TikTok strikes licensing deal for Prince back catalogue

There has been a lot of debate about which music licences TikTok has already, which ones it doesn’t (publishers have been particularly sharp on this one) and what it needs to do next to ensure performers and songwriters are getting paid for usage of their work in its app. So it’s interesting to see TikTok press-releasing […]

ByteDance and TikTok revenues under the microscope again

The rise of TikTok, and the assorted controversies around it, have meant there’s a lot more scrutiny of the economics of the app and its parent company ByteDance. Which is welcome for the music industry, as rightsholders go into licensing negotiations keen to strike as advantageous deals as possible. There are two new bouts of […]

New study breaks down kids’ YouTube and TikTok habits

Sit down for this shocker: children spend quite a lot of time on YouTube and TikTok! Who knew? Next thing, someone will be telling us that they quite like Fortnite too. But no snark: a company called Qustodio, whose product is a parental control app, has been digging into its data to quantify exactly how […]

Mass a-peel: ‘Banana’ track gets a bunch of TikTok plays

There have been some excellent bananas in music: Andy Warhol’s artwork for the Velvet Underground & Nico; Bananarama; Melt-Banana… Can Conkarah feat. Shaggy’s single ‘Banana’ follow in their footsteps? It’s already a bona-fide TikTok sensation. The track is based around Harry Belafonte’s 1956 hit ‘Banana Boat (Day-O)’, and comes with a #BananaDrop challenge based around […]

New TikTok rival Zynn pays its users for watching videos

A new social-video app called Zynn has been making waves by springing from nowhere to top Apple’s App Store chart in the US. It looks a LOT like TikTok: you can create and watch 15-second videos (“with massive music library”). But as it turns out, the app didn’t just spring from nowhere: Turner Novak of investment firm […]

Bytedance appoints Disney+ boss Kevin Mayer as TikTok CEO

TikTok has a new boss, and he’s a media-industry heavyweight. Kevin Mayer is joining TikTok’s parent company Bytedance from Disney, where he was most recently chairman of direct-to-consumer and international – a key role overseeing the launch of the Disney+ video streaming service. Mayer will be chief operating officer of Bytedance, leading “music, gaming, Helo, […]

TikTok under fire again from US child-privacy campaigners

In February 2019, TikTok paid $5.7m as part of a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission following a child-privacy investigation dating back to the Musical·ly app (not us!) that TikTok merged with in 2018. Besides paying the $5.7m, TikTok promised to make changes that would ensure children’s personal information was not being shared, alongside other protections […]

Report: TikTok app added 5.6m US users in March alone

It won’t come as a big surprise to learn that TikTok is one of the digital services benefitting from the Covid-19 lockdown – in usage, if not necessarily in revenues. According to eMarketer, in March TikTok added more than 12 million unique visitors in the US alone. Wait: ‘visitors’? These are based on figures from comScore, […]

Today’s positive coronavirus-related industry stories (28 April)

TikTok is launching a new feature, ‘Donation Stickers’, that will enable creators on the app to encourage their followers to donate to charities. This isn’t only about music, but music industry charities MusiCares and Help Musicians are two of the first to be supported through the feature. The stickers can be added to videos, and […]

There’s now an AI to ‘generate deepfake dances’ for TikTok

Do you want to upload amazing dancing videos to TikTok like The Young People do, but are hamstrung by a lack of dancing skills? Fear not: AI is coming to your rescue. Possibly. Check out a new startup called Boogie, whose teaser website claims its technology will “generate deepfake dances with a single image” and thus […]

TikTok spikes persuade more labels to change track titles

Earlier this year in our piece about how we worked with Atlanta rapper K Camp to capitalise on the TikTok success of his track ‘Lottery’, we explained that changing its title on streaming services to ‘Lottery (Renegade)’ because the second word was what kids were searching for – thanks to the producer tag in the clip that went […]

Drake’s ‘Toosie Slide’ heads towards 3bn views on TikTok

Drake released his new track ‘Toosie Slide’ on 2nd April, and as we reported before, TikTok and other social platforms were part of its marketing strategy right from the start, thanks to the recruitment of some prominent dancer influencers. How’s that campaign going? Well, there have been more than 2.8bn views of TikTok videos using the #toosieslide […]

TikTok launches ‘Live Sessions’ with popular UK artists

The live sessions and the livestreaming just keeps coming. TikTok has created a new Live Sessions series in the UK based around British artists. The first acts signed up to appear are Ashnikko (10th April), Mabel (14th April), Tinie Tempah (21st April), Jax Jones and Ellie Goulding (dates TBC). The aim is that each artist […]

FanBytes ByteHouse is a Big Brother-style house with UK TikTok stars

Imagine trying to launch a project at this specific point in time that involved a group of TikTok stars living together in a Big Brother-style house. Impossible. Luckily for agency Fanbytes, said TikTokers moved into its new ‘ByteHouse’ before the current social-distancing lockdown in the UK, so its project can proceed as planned. That project […]

Drake tapped dancing influencers for ‘Toosie Slide’ release

If you’ve been spotting Drake’s new track ‘Toosie Slide’ all over your socials in recent days, it’s no accident. Rolling Stone has a piece explaining how the artist enlisted some popular dancing influencers to promote the single. Toosie, Hiii Key, Ayo & Teo (the latter are a duo) are the influencers in question, popular on TikTok, Instagram […]

TikTok has label licences, but publishers are threatening to sue

We reported last week on TikTok signing short-term licensing deals with major labels, as a bridge to longer agreements at a later date. However, Bytedance’s social app still has some licensing headaches on the publishing side, and US body the National Music Publishers Association is threatening to make them worse. According to the Financial Times, […]

L Devine’s digital ‘URL Tour’ helped her sell out of merch

One of the most inventive approaches to livestreaming so far this year came from British artist L Devine, who went on an online-only ‘URL Tour’ when a planned physical tour was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of towns or cities, the URL Tour was structured around platforms: Instagram Live on 16 March; Twitter on 20 […]

TikTok’s top creator Charli D’Amelio now has 41.8m followers

With many parents exhausted already by homeschooling, and relaxing their device-usage rules once lessons are done, we suspect TikTok’s servers are getting a mighty battering. That’s going to be good news for the top creators on the social app though, whose audiences may see a spike. Tubefilter notes that this includes a change at the top of […]

Today’s positive coronavirus-related music industry news (24 March)

Music Ally is trying to write a story every working day, rounding up the good, practical things happening in and around our industry: focusing on relief efforts and other initiatives from the music industry and music / tech communities. Start today with Bandcamp’s update on how last Friday’s big music sale went. “On a typical Friday, […]

Instagram and TikTok ‘sidekick apps’ were hot in 2019

A new report from research firm Sensor Tower has found that a third of the biggest new apps in 2019 were “sidekick apps” for the likes of Instagram and TikTok. What are sidekick apps? They are apps that work in conjunction with ‘mother’ apps, adding new features or enhancements that the original app is lacking. According to […]

TikTok appoints US external advisors for content moderation

TikTok has been under a lot of scrutiny in recent months, in the US particularly, over how its content moderation policies work. Now the app has appointed what US general manager Vanessa Pappas described as “an external council of leading experts to advise TikTok on content moderation policies covering a wide range of topics… thought leaders who […]

Years & Years & TikTok: capitalising on a viral hit

British band Years & Years swiftly set up a TikTok account at the end of last week – in a large part because their cover of 2003’s ‘Breathe’ (by Sean Paul ft. Blu Cantrell) from six years ago was having a viral impact on the app without any push from them. They were able to capitalise on […]

How K Camp’s ‘Lottery’ (aka ‘Renegade’) went viral – and what happened next

Atlanta rapper K Camp began releasing mixtapes in 2011, before signing to Interscope in 2014, building up a loyal following. However, the release of his track ‘Lottery’ in early 2019 changed everything. The track initially had a slow build through platforms including Instagram, YouTube and Triller, but then a few months later users of TikTok […]

Sandbox Issue 247: All Triller, No Filler: Music’s next big launchpad?

Lead: Triller is not a TikTok killer – but it is certainly proving to be a hearty contender. At the moment, it is strongest in the US and it skews heavily towards hip-hop as its in-built soundtrack. Its ambitions are, however, more global and the genres it covers will naturally expand as it grows internationally. […]

Phantom Of The Tokera: get set for TikTok: the stage show

You like the app – now try the festival. The storied London Palladium theatre will be hosting ‘For You Stage, a Live Show Feat TikTok Superstars’ on 24 and 25 May this year. Named after the ‘For You’ discovery tab in TikTok, the show “will incorporate some of the biggest content creators on the TikTok […]

Despite link issues, BTS TikTok #OnChallenge has 133.8m views

We reported last week on TikTok’s coup in securing a 30-second exclusive preview of ‘ON’ – a track from the new BTS album – ahead of its official release to streaming services. The app challenged fans to create their own videos for an #onchallenge, and as you’d expect, the BTS Army responded in droves. So much so, that at […]

AI music startup Boomy adds rap beats and TikTok distribution

Boomy is the startup that’s helping anyone (non-musicians included) to create AI-generated music, and then release it on streaming services. According to the company’s latest update, its users have created more than 370,000 original songs in the last year, with 70% of those people never having made a song before. The update also explains Boomy’s latest features, […]

Sandbox Issue 246: BAD INFLUENCE. Social media’s new fault lines

Lead: Influencers are a growing part of music marketing but tighter rules on what they can do (and how explicit they must be in declaring their interests), as well as a series of scandals, are making working here increasingly complicated – if not increasingly risky. Some are arguing they still have power, but others are […]

The Brit Awards reveal TikTok partnership for 2020 event

The British music industry is gearing up for next week’s Brit Awards in London, and TikTok will be on board as one of the event’s key digital partners. The app will be live-streaming the  arrival of artists and celebrities on its official Brits channel, complete with a red-carpet live performance from Lewis Capaldi. The night will […]

Social star KSI debuts on TikTok with #WakeUpCallChallenge

British YouTuber KSI is a social media sensation. His YouTube channel has 21m subscribers, while his November boxing match against fellow influencer Logan Paul was described as “the biggest amateur boxing match in history”. KSI has also been releasing music for some time: his first single came out in 2013, while in November 2019 he […]

Justin Bieber went big with Super Bowl TikTok campaign

The Verge’s headline about Justin Bieber’s latest marketing campaign is pretty tart: ‘Justin Bieber is increasingly desperate for ‘Yummy’ to go viral on TikTok’. Ouch. It refers to Bieber’s Super Bowl campaign with restaurant chain Chipotle, which was heavily focused on TikTok, and videos made by influencers on that app. Bieber launched an official profile on […]

TikTok’s latest censorship row focuses on India ‘shadow banning’

TikTok isn’t just about musical videos, and some of its non-music content has already sparked controversies around moderation and censorship issues. India, which is TikTok’s biggest international market right now, is a particular hotbed of sensitivities when it comes to political statements. The BBC has a lengthy piece about the growth of “shadow banning” – where restrictions are […]

Nicky Jam and YouTuber Teala Dunn team up for TikTok video

There is a lot going on in this TikTok video featuring musician Nicky Jam and YouTuber Teala Dunn: a motorbike chase, a fight scene, drones and a daring, tracksuited car-park-clambering escape. Published through Sony’s official TikTok profile (that’s big Sony, the overall company, rather than its Sony Music subsidiary) it claims to be “the most epic TikTok […]

TikTok signs Merlin deal but its licensing work is far from done

TikTok and indie licensing-agency Merlin have announced a licensing deal covering use of music from the latter’s member labels “wherever the platform is available around the world”. The deal is effective immediately, and financial terms have not been disclosed. Cue warm words from both sides. “Independent artists and labels are such a crucial part of […]

Epic Games launches TikTok contest to find next Fortnite emote

The streams of the two biggest current digital youth-trends are crossing this month, as the publisher of Fortnite launched a dance contest on TikTok. The #EmoteRoyaleContest will be catnip for Fortnite’s tween’n’teen superfans too, as it gives them a chance to get their own dance routines added to the game as one of its ‘emotes’. […]

TikTok was the second most-downloaded mobile app of 2019

App analytics firm Sensor Tower has published its year-end report on the apps market in 2019. Among its conclusions: TikTok was the second most-downloaded app across Apple and Google’s app stores in 2019, behind only WhatsApp, with nearly 750m downloads over the year. That put TikTok ahead of Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, with the caveat […]

TikTok may launch ‘curated feed’ to boost ad revenues

One of many mysteries of this algorithm-driven age is how TikTok’s ‘For You’ feed works, in terms of the videos it recommends to users of its app. However, a report in the Financial Times this morning suggests that TikTok may be considering adding something a bit more… curated to its offering. The newspaper describes it as “a […]

Sandbox Issue 243: The Last 10 Years and The Next 10 Years of Music Marketing

Welcome to the first Sandbox of 2020. Lead: It is now 10 years since we published the very first edition of Sandbox, so to start a new decade we speak to marketers from around the world about the tools and trends that shaped the past decade of music marketing as well as the ones they believe […]

TikTok clarifies its community guidelines after censorship row

TikTok has been subject to intense scrutiny recently over its censorship and moderation policies, and specifically the extent to which its global approach is guided by views on what is or isn’t acceptable in China. Now the company has published a revised and expanded set of its community guidelines, promising “greater transparency” and a clearer structure of 10 […]

Music Ally Report 426: Trends of 2019

This year we’ve picked 42 (also the answer to life, the universe and everything as fans of Douglas Adams will know) of the trends and moments we found most significant in 2019. What are they? *takes deep breath* industry growth; the European Copyright Directive and Music Modernization Act; Spotify’s two-sided marketplace; Apple Music’s bundled future; […]

19 TikTok stars get together for #hyephouse ‘collab house’ in LA

You don’t have to be a boomer to think that the idea of sharing a house with 19 TikTok stars has the makings of a living hell. But in the case of the Hype House in Los Angeles, it’s part of a burgeoning social-media trend. The New York Times has explained what’s going on: actually, only a […]

WWE strikes TikTok deal including wrestler entrance-themes

The latest brand working with TikTok is sports-entertainment organisation WWE, which has created an official account on the social app. However, music is also a key part of the deal, with WWE licensing the entrance themes for more than 30 of its past and present wrestlers for use on TikTok. That means users of the app will […]

Bytedance tests music-streaming app Resso in India and Indonesia

Bytedance has begun testing its new music-streaming service Resso in India and Indonesia. Music Ally received a tip-off yesterday about the app’s availability, and began researching it, but since then Bloomberg has published a report claiming that the new app has been downloaded 27k times since its stealthy launch, but also suggesting that Resso has […]

Former WMG exec Ole Obermann confirms new role at TikTok

Ole Obermann was Warner Music Group’s chief digital officer until June 2019, when he left the company after reportedly declining to renew his contract. Recent gossip had suggested that Obermann was joining TikTok and/or its parent company Bytedance in a key music role. And lo: Obermann has now confirmed that he has joined the companies as global […]

TikTok settles children’s privacy lawsuit in the US

Yesterday, we reported on a lawsuit filed against TikTok in the US over its predecessor app Musical·ly’s handling of children’s data. There’s a speedy update on the case: it’s been settled. “TikTok is firmly committed to safeguarding the data of its users, especially our younger users,” a spokesperson told The Verge. “Although we disagree with much […]

TikTok backs the Giggs economy in month-long partnership

TikTok currently finds itself in a position that YouTube knows only too well, being simultaneously hailed as a kingmaker for breaking new artists, and a hot potato when it comes to the question of licensing and royalties for music on its platform. Part of TikTok’s charm offensive is partnerships with artists, and the latest example […]

TikTok criticised for limiting reach of people with disabilities

After all the recent controversies around data privacy and censorship, TikTok’s leadership won’t have enjoyed seeing this intro to a story on news site Netzpolitik. “Leaked documents reveal how TikTok hid videos of people with disabilities. Queer and fat users were also pushed out of view.” The story concerns a list of ‘special users’ whose posts’ […]

Teenager tests TikTok policies with video criticising China

TikTok has been under fire recently over accusations that its global moderation policies are too in thrall to the government of its parent company’s homeland, China. The line coming out of TikTok executives in the US this month has been that censorship decisions on the platform in the west are NOT driven by Beijing. That’s […]

TikTok moves into ticketing – in Thailand for now

TikTok is testing a new music-related feature in Thailand: selling tickets. The company is partnering with several local companies, including BEC Tero (which promotes concerts, owns a record label and produces films and TV shows); Neon Festivals; ticketing firm Ticketmelon; and cinema chain Major Cineplex. For now, TikTok will be selling tickets for 500 films […]

TikTok reaches 1.5bn downloads and tests shopping features

As parent company Bytedance prepares to launch its dedicated music-streaming service, TikTok has reached a new milestone. Well, it has according to research firm SensorTower, anyway. It claims that TikTok has now been downloaded more than 1.5bn times from Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play, including 614m downloads in 2019 alone. “It’s currently the third most […]

Instagram’s in-test ‘Reels’ feature takes aim at TikTok

‘Killer’ is one of the most overused words in the field of tech journalism, when it’s appended to the name of digital services thought to be under threat from a rival or copycat launched by a much-bigger technology company. Was Apple Music a ‘Spotify-killer’? Nope. Was Google+ a ‘Facebook-killer’? Absolutely not. Vine’s killer turned out […]

Washington Post explores TikTok-censorship ‘culture clash’

TikTok’s difficult end-of-2019 in the US continues: now the Washington Post has been digging around in the company’s internal policies. ‘Inside TikTok: A culture clash where US views about censorship often were overridden by the Chinese bosses‘ is the Post’s headline, which is exactly the issue that’s been sparking calls by US politicians for a […]

Music marketing on TikTok: ‘Give the audience the opportunity to be their own influencer’

As a platform, TikTok continues to generate strong opinions within the music industry regarding what kind of licensing deals it needs, and how much it could or should be paying rightsholders. But it’s also generating a lot of interest and activity from the marketing teams working with artists. It’s certainly not the first platform to […]

Pandora and TikTok ads found on video-piracy service TeaTV

There is no suggestion that Pandora or TikTok are knowingly funding a TV-piracy service called TeaTV. But ads for these and other legitimate digital services have been found within that website, in an investigation published by CNBC. “The online service offers a wide swath of pirated movies from major networks such as HBO and streaming services […]

Sandbox Issue 238: Remixes Hit Saturation Point

Lead: Lil Nas X might have broken on TikTok but it was his deft use of multiple remixes (and collaborations) that kept ‘Old Town Road’ in the air throughout most of 2019. He claims he has 25 remixes of follow-up track ‘Panini’ ready to go, although this might prove to be the most high-profile case […]

UGC is the key success metric on TikTok says Fanbytes founder

MBW has an interview with Timothy Armoo, founder and CEO of Fanbytes, where he talks about the TikTok campaign for Decca-signed act Aurora based around her track ‘The River’ which was about sending out “a positive message promoting mental health awareness”. For the #youcancrychallenge, they focused on 13 well-known TikTok users to get things rolling by […]

Flighthouse now has 20m followers for its TikTok channel

Social brand Flighthouse has reached a new milestone with its TikTok channel: it now has more than 20 million followers. The company says that its recent growth has been fuelled by its decision to start producing its own original videos (rather than just reposting other people’s content), with the channel having added more than two million […]

Ashnikko has a TikTok-fuelled hit with her track ‘Stupid’

UK-based artist Ashnikko is having a moment in the spotlight with a track called ‘Stupid’. Featuring ‘Yung Baby Tate’, the song is currently perched in second spot in Spotify’s Global Viral 50 chart, with 4.6m streams so far on that service. Its ‘official audio’ version on YouTube is about to cross 1m views, although an unofficial lyric-video uploaded […]

TikTok explains why it won’t allow political advertising

Next year’s US presidential election promises to be a bumper pay-day for ad-supported digital services of all kinds, music included. Certainly Pandora and Spotify will be angling for the audio budgets of the candidates and the activist groups supporting them in the US. TikTok? Not so much. Well, not at all, in fact. “We have […]

Sandbox Issue 237: VIEWTUBE. When Music Video Plays Get Juiced

Lead: Sony Music India artist Badshah claimed to have broken the 24-hour record on YouTube for 75m plays of his track ‘Paagal’ in July. Then people started asking questions. It eventually emerged that the track’s success had been boosted by TrueView ads before and during other YouTube videos, all of which counted toward the opening […]

Mark Zuckerberg on TikTok competition: ‘This is a real thing’

Leaked audio from an internal Facebook meeting where CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered questions from staff has been making headlines – mainly around his promise of a “fight” if politicians try to break his company up. But for Music Ally’s purposes, Zuckerberg’s comments on TikTok are also interesting. “TikTok… is really the first consumer internet product built […]

K-Pop stars BTS are the latest artist to join TikTok

At the time of writing, it’s 19 hours since Big Hit Entertainment’s official Twitter profile for BTS made this announcement: “#BTS TikTok Channel Open!”. 19 hours later, BTS’ TikTok account is being followed by 2.2 million people. Their two posts so far have 2.9m and 1.9m likes respectively. BTS are the latest prominent artist to join TikTok with […]

TikTok trumpets its role in helping DJ Regard have a viral hit

TikTok and its parent company Bytedance’s licensing negotiations with music rightsholders continue, as does its dispute with licensing hub ICE in the UK, which has been taken to the country’s copyright tribunal. Yet alongside all this, TikTok continues to make its presence felt as a platform for music discovery and marketing campaigns. It’s no surprise […]

Sandbox Issue 235: Talking TikTok Triumphs

Lead: TikTok is  an essential consideration for artist marketing in 2019, particularly for pop acts. But for all the strategies and careful coordination, the best things on the app are often those that blindside everyone. We spotlight the best recent uses of music (and surprise catalogue reappearances) on TikTok in recent months and also look […]

Report: TikTok is testing a native audience network for ads

If TikTok is going to pay sizeable royalties to music rightsholders at some point, it’s going to need sizeable revenues, with advertising likely to loom large. So, AdWeek’s report on the company’s plans should make interesting reading for the music industry. “A trove of newly discovered developer documents reveal the platform has rolled out a native audience […]

TikTok users try to figure out its recommendation algorithm

Since the earliest days of people becoming famous on YouTube, there’s been intent debate about how the platform’s recommendation algorithm works and, as a follow-on, how to game that algorithm to get more views. It’s the same for any big digital service, of course. And now TikTok is no different. Vice has a good feature […]

Report claims that adult-dating scammers are targeting TikTok

TikTok’s latest headache? It’s the latest platform to be targeted by scammers, attracted by its sharp growth in users. Cybersecurity firm Tenable has published a blog post outlining a scam involving ‘adult-dating’ services. “These profiles feature stolen videos from sources like Instagram and Snapchat, featuring women dancing, posing in bikinis, working out or just going about their […]

Stats revealed for the TikTok campaign for UMG’s ‘Money Dance’

There’s a healthy debate about the extent to which labels can make a track ‘go viral’ on TikTok, versus simply piling in to capitalise on the effect when this happens organically. Agency The Influencer Marketing Factory has published an interesting case study that falls in to the former category, however. It was hired by Universal […]

Aussie fans can create videos with Ed Sheeran’s official app

The launch of a smartphone app for fans to create and share their own videos with Ed Sheeran’s music (legally!) forming the soundtrack should be big news. But it seems that the Ed No. 6 app is only available in Australia for now. It’s been launched by Warner Music Australia for Android and iOS smartphones, with […]

Amid TikTok dispute, Bytedance hired ICE’s head of rights & repertoire

TikTok has referred licensing hub ICE and its three founders – PRS for Music, GEMA and STIM – to the UK’s Copyright Tribunal, in a dispute over licensing terms. The social app will have some expert help in its corner, it turns out. “Exciting times ahead in a truly inspiring company! Thank you TikTok / […]

The next TikTok? 10 more short-video apps taking China by storm

TikTok is currently one of the most popular social apps globally, and it’s making plenty of waves in the music industry, from playing an early role in making ‘Old Town Road’ a hit and becoming an exciting platform for music marketing campaigns, to sparking copyright arguments with collecting societies and speculation about its licensing talks […]

Ed Sheeran #BeautifulPeople TikTok challenge races to 335m views

Ed Sheeran is big for streams, sales, socials, concert audiences… and now he’s big on TikTok too. To be specific, Sheeran has launched a challenge on that social app for his latest track, the Khalid-featuring ‘Beautiful People’. Fans are being invited to upload videos celebrating the beautiful people in their lives, using the hashtag #BeautifulPeople […]

TikTok issues statement on its UK Copyright Tribunal music-licensing referral

Yesterday, Music Ally broke the news that social app TikTok has referred three collecting societies – PRS for Music, STIM and GEMA – and their joint-venture licensing hub ICE to the UK’s Copyright Tribunal, in a dispute over music-licensing terms. ICE issued a statement yesterday on the case, but this morning TikTok has also sent […]

TikTok takes on collecting societies at UK Copyright Tribunal

Social app TikTok is set for a battle with three European collecting societies and their joint venture, via the medium of the UK’s Copyright Tribunal. That’s the body that resolves copyright-related commercial-licensing disputes in the UK. Copyright Tribunal Ref 132/19 will be of intense interest to the music industry, then. “Notice is hereby given of a reference […]

AI-music startup Jukedeck’s CEO now runs the AI Lab of TikTok owner Bytedance

Ed Newton-Rex was the founder and CEO of Jukedeck, one of the first startups to develop a product for AI-generated music. We say ‘was’ because since April 2019, he has been working for TikTok’s parent company Bytedance as director of its AI Lab, according to his recently-updated LinkedIn profile. That would explain recent rumours that […]

FTC mulls changes to child-privacy regulations in the US

YouTube and TikTok (among other digital services) will have been put on notice by an announcement this week by the US Federal Trade Commission about children’s privacy regulations. The COPPA rule was first implemented in the US in 2000, and concerns how websites and digital services handle personal information from children aged under 13. Now […]

TikTok videos turned Absofacto’s ‘Dissolve’ into a chart hit

We’re all familiar with the tale of how TikTok helped ‘Old Town Road’ become a big hit in its initial version. Now there’s a new case study from the buzzy social app. Billboard has the story of how a 2015 track called ‘Dissolve’ by artist Absofacto (aka Jonathan Visger) blew up on TikTok early in 2019, […]

Report: TikTok was installed 344m times in first half of 2019

Thanks to Apple’s official response to Spotify’s complaint to the European Commission, we know that around 680,000 of the latter company’s subscribers are paying their monthly fees through the iOS in-app purchases system. But what about the wider apps economy? Analytics firm SensorTower has put out its latest figures on how that’s growing, and which apps are benefitting from […]

Sandbox issue 231: Conversions. Tracking Cause and Effect in fan marketing

Lead: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half,” is a quote commonly attributed to Philadelphian retailer John Wanamaker in the 1800s and it has haunted the advertising and marketing worlds ever since. Spending money and hoping for a consumer reaction previously involved stacking up a […]

TikTok now has 120 million monthly active users in India

2019 has brought some bumps to TikTok’s progress in India, including a brief removal of its app from Google and Apple’s app stores in April. However, the social video app is now firing on all cylinders again in India, telling the Economic Times that it has 200 million users in the country, of which 120 million are […]

Esports and TikTok on the marketing agenda at Midem

There were some fun panels at the Midem conference yesterday, including an appearance from musician TheFatRat, the first signing to Universal Music and ESL’s Enter Records label. “I don’t see that I have to please two companies. I see that two companies have to please me! Which I think is a great thing. I see […]

Flighthouse CEO Jacob Pace talks TikTok, music and virality

Bad news, record labels hoping to create the next ‘Old Town Road’ sized hit by making a song ‘go viral’ on social app TikTok. It’s easier said than done. “To really make stuff go on TikTok requires a lot of understanding. We tell labels all the time: you can’t just take a song and throw […]

Report: Bytedance has Indian label deals for new music service

New details have emerged on TikTok’s parent company Bytedance’s plans to launch its own music-streaming service. Bloomberg reports that the new service will launch this autumn “in a handful of territories, mostly poorer countries where paid services have yet to garner large audiences”. The countries aren’t named, but one clue comes from the news that Bytedance has […]

TikTok parent Bytedance launches Feiliao messaging app

TikTok may be taking over the western world (in terms of downloads at least, as we reported last week) but its parent company Bytedance has just launched a new app in China. It’s called Feiliao, although TechCrunch reports the English-language version of the name is ‘Flipchat’. “Here are your familiar chat, audio and video calls. In […]

China’s music industry discusses social music-promotion

This weekend saw the ‘WISE’ conference take place in Beijing, with a lineup of Chinese and international speakers from the music and media industries. Music Ally was there to report back on some of the discussions relating to our industry: particularly a debate over how or if platforms like TikTok (Douyin in China) plan to […]

TikTok was the third most-downloaded app globally in Q1 2019

Social app TikTok may be at a point in its lifetime where big numbers around its growth are counter-productive – at least in one specific context: licensing negotiations with the music industry. The bigger TikTok gets, the keener rightsholders will be to point out how important music has been to its growth, and why any […]

Music marketing in 2019: content, playlists… and Twitter skeletons

Musicians who are breaking through should be aware of any skeletons lurking in the cupboard of their past social-media posts, according to Andy Varley from music company Insanity Group. “In a generation where more and more artists are growing up through social media, you might have used Twitter as a conversational playground discussion platform as […]

Live A Pray-AR: how Madonna is using AR, TikTok and more in her new album campaign

The new Madonna album, Madame X, is out next month but leads singles ‘Medellín’ and ‘I Rise’ have not exactly set the charts alight. Which will make the set up to the album that little bit trickier. Perhaps as part of an accelerated media campaign, Madonna’s team has been talking to Billboard about the use of new […]

Sandbox Issue 227: TIK-ING BOXES. How TikTok can change music marketing.

Lead: TikTok is far more than a novelty app for people to whip up memes that have a shorter shelf life than a carton of milk. It is now breaking acts and songs in a way that other platforms cannot. We look at what the music industry is doing to capitalise on its phenomenal growth […]

TikTok’s Indian app-store ban has now been overturned

Google and Apple removed social app TikTok from their app stores in India last week, but it will now be returning to the stores, after the state court in Tamil Nadu overturned its ban. This, in turn, has spurred India’s federal government to tell Google and Apple that they can make the app available again. […]

Sandbox Issue 226: What people just don’t “get” about digital marketing

Lead: what digital marketing trends are most underrated or simply misunderstood in 2019? That’s the question we put to the music marketing community and got them to hold forth on the subject. This resulted in a lot of ideas and a lot of new paths for marketing this year and beyond. Campaigns: TikTok goes all […]

TikTok downloads blocked in India after government request

Social app TikTok hasn’t been blocked in India: people who’ve downloaded the app there are still using it. But is *has* been removed from Apple and Google’s app stores, meaning that new downloads are currently barred from those official sources. The news is a setback for TikTok in what’s become one of its biggest markets. […]

TikTok and the new value gap as labels demand “hundreds of millions” – report

In yesterday’s bulletin, we covered the arrival of Spotlight, a new initiative on TikTok designed to help break new acts from South Korea and Japan on the short-form video platform. We wondered then if royalties were being paid on music used this way and what rightsholders would make of it all. We didn’t have to […]

TikTok wants to break new acts via Spotlight

TikTok, the short-form video app that has been downloaded over 1bn times to make it the new centre of gravity in the meme world, is looking to court new acts and help break them on the platform. Its new Spotlight feature allows artists to digitally audition for the company and the successful ones will be put in […]

China to introduce ‘youth mode’ time limits for short-video apps

The challenge of levering children off their favourite app is one being grappled with by parents across the world, whether it’s YouTube, Fortnite, TikTok or Roblox. Now the Chinese government is introducing regulations that will crack down on one particular sector: ‘short-video’ apps including TikTok’s Chinese version Douyin and rival Kuaishou. “From June, all such […]

TikTok upgrades its ‘restricted mode’ for younger users

Social app TikTok is under a *lot* of scrutiny in 2019 over the younger end of its community. In February, the company agreed to pay $5.7m in a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission over violations of children’s privacy laws, before blocking access to its app for children aged under 13 in the US. Now the company is […]

Report: TikTok’s parent company lost $1.2bn in 2018

The recent $5.7m settlement between TikTok and the US Federal Trade Commission was the biggest ever fine in a child-privacy case. But the amount pales next to the amount TikTok’s parent company Bytedance lost in 2018, according to a report by tech site The Information. It claims that Bytedance’s losses were $1.2bn last year, after making […]

TikTok pays $5.7m in FTC settlement over children’s privacy

Early on in our coverage social-video app Musical.ly, we warned that its large audience of pre-teens represented a big risk for the company, in terms of staying on the right side of children’s privacy legislation like COPPA in the US. Yesterday, that particular hammer dropped – on TikTok, whose parent company Bytedance acquired Musical.ly before […]

Pitchfork calls TikTok ‘the great music meme scam’

Pitchfork spares no punches in its profile of social-video app TikTok, drawing an unflattering comparison between the value of its parent company Bytedance, and the level of royalties being paid to musicians for use of their work. That said, a tale does emerge of viral TikTok videos sparking streams of music on YouTube and other platforms […]

India draws up new rules for ‘intermediary’ apps like TikTok

Social apps from overseas, particularly China, have been dominating the upper reaches of app stores in India. Now the government is responding, with new regulations aimed at ‘intermediary’ apps that get their content from users. The Financial Times reported that any such apps with more than five million users in India ‘need to set up […]

Study tips YouTube to decline in popularity with British kids

Will children ever tire of YouTube? Surely not! Yet that’s the suggestion being made in a new report published by research firm Kids Insights, which is out today. “According to our data across all ages 4-18 the number of children spending time each day watching YouTube has declined from 61% to 51% in a persistent […]

Sandbox Issue 220: Vault-ing Ambitions

Lead: While Netflix viewers are currently obsessing over Marie Kondo and her rules on de-cluttering the home (instructing viewers to only hold onto the things that “spark joy”), a different approach needs to happen in digital marketing. Rather than binning everything but the essentials, archivists and markets should be retaining as much as they can […]

Chinese government clamps down on short-video apps’ content

There may be trouble brewing for TikTok and the other ‘short-video’ apps that have proven so popular in China over the last year. The Financial Times reported on a new set of industry guidelines, directed by the Chinese government, which will hold these apps responsible for all content posted by their users. Examples of content […]

TikTok culture is wider (and possibly crueller) than its app

Many people in the music industry are trying to get a handle on social-video app TikTok: particularly how young people are using it, and what kind of culture is growing around their shared clips. If you’re one of those people, New York magazine’s exploration of TikTok is well worth a read – especially because it […]

TikTok ‘Lite’ apps have been installed 12m times already

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify are among the apps that have launched ‘lite’ versions aimed mainly at markets where mobile networks are slower, and/or where mobile data is more expensive. Now social-video app TikTok has quietly followed suit, launching a pair of ‘Lite’ apps (one with a lower-case ‘l’ in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and other […]

Aller à la barre d’outils