Artists and record labels are looking to TikTok to help them earn millions off-platform on songs that go viral, experts say.
A study released in early February from OnlineGambling.ca said The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights”, which went viral on TikTok, was streamed 1.65 billion times on Spotify and is estimated to have earned him over $7.2 million.
The study noted that a compilation of viral songs on TikTok have “cumulative earnings of a staggering $100 million and have been played almost 23 billion times.”
Jason Falls, a senior influence strategist at Cornett, said that because of TikTok’s “addictive mechanism” for people to sit and scroll through content, it’s a great platform for musicians to have their music heard and get paid a lot of money in the process.
“TikTok is active. You’re actively engaged in this content. You’re going to consume a lot more music and a lot more content,” he said in an interview.
“As you flip through different channels, if one song, particularly in a challenge goes viral, now you’re listening to that same 15 seconds over and over again. It’s the earworm that gets in your head and then you go buy it or download it on Spotify.”
Falls added that not only has TikTok become an inspirational platform to discover new music, it also has the ability to make people go and download content from other platforms.
“And even if it’s just consuming it on Spotify, that royalty, that fee, goes to the artist,” he said.
“It’s going to be a great platform for musicians to get their music out there. Any time you have, especially if you are a recording artist who is paid royalties for their music, it behooves the record company, it behooves the artists to promote that music on TikTok.”
Alan Cross, host of the Ongoing History of New Music radio program, said that the video-sharing platform is becoming increasingly valuable for promoting old and new music.
“In an era where nobody’s selling CDs, in an era where nobody is able to make money going on tour, TikTok’s importance in the music ecosystem has increased tremendously over the last 12 months,” he said in an interview.
“Fleetwood Mac, for example, when that guy with cranberry juice on the longboard posted the video, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album ended up in the top 10 for the first time in 42 years.”
The study from OnlineGambling.ca said Fleetwood Mac’s song “Dreams”, which was used in a viral TikTok, landed in the charts in October 2020 for the first time since its original 1977 run.
Cross said that artists need to look at TikTok as another avenue for revenue generation, adding that record labels, artists, and managers are thinking about how the platform can help leverage new opportunities, whether it’s album sales, streams, or even resurrecting older songs.
In November 2020, TikTok announced it would partner with Sony Music Entertainment to “make songs from SME’s roster of global superstars” that will be “widely available across the TikTok app.”
The partnership means TikTok creators will have access to sound clips from Sony’s catalogue of current hits, new releases, and classic songs.
Cross added that this kind of partnership will also likely help record labels recoup investments, after having spent millions of dollars buying song catalogues from famous artists.
“Their whole thing is about, how do we unlock the value of these song catalogues that we purchased,” he said.