‘Without TikTok, I’d still be a wedding singer’
TikTok’s viral sensations have been reshaping the musical landscape for some time.
For Chloe Adams, rather than touring the country singing at weddings, she can now exploit the video-sharing platform’s new music service SoundOn.
The space offers unsigned artists a way to upload songs and the metadata, get paid and find distribution.
Before SoundOn’s launch last week, Chloe had already attracted more than 1.2 million followers on TikTok.
Like so many hits, her song Dirty Thoughts quickly attracted the TikTok audience first. It has since become popular on Spotify, with nearly 10 million streams.
“I became aware that building a large following on TikTok, or having my song go viral on TikTok, were some of the only ways that emerging artists break through these days,” said the 24-year-old, who lives in Leicester.
“Before releasing and playing my original music became my full-time work, I was part of a wedding band and would play at tonnes of weddings around the country.
“I was the lead singer and played my acoustic guitar too, that’s where I’d be right now if I had no way to release my original music online.”
Before SoundOn, artists behind the viral tracks used to have to leave TikTok to find distribution options.
Now they can do everything in one place, using the app to push their music out to all the other streaming platforms, including Resso, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, Deezer and Tencent’s Joox.
David Mogendorff, TikTok’s UK head of artist partnerships, told the BBC: “It feels like any new emerging artist in the UK is using TikTok as a place to get out there to start showing people what they can do, and to grow a fanbase.”
SoundOn pays out 100% royalties to music creators in the first year and 90% after that, so the idea is it empowers new and undiscovered artists and allows their popularity to snowball. There are also no administrative fees.
Although artists have been releasing music on platforms like YouTube for years now, some entry-level singers have struggled to make money – with only videos attracting a lot of views able to cash in on adverts.
With SoundOn, the artists have more artistic autonomy over what they release but they also have more power when it comes to signing with a potential record label, which is something they might choose to do further down the line.
“We want to do something that’s really artist-friendly at that early point in their careers. Every penny counts and we wanted to give people a service that really works for them,” said Mr Mogendorff.
The technology, which is owned by the Chinese internet giant ByteDance, means the artists can choose the model that is right for them, and choose to remain completely independent, but the bar is high.
“We have quite a strict moderation and editorial service in place to ensure people are uploading songs that belong to them and are appropriate for our community guidelines,” he added.
SoundOn is now fully launched in the US, UK, Brazil and Indonesia with not just Chloe, but Abby Roberts, Games We Play and Muni Long all signed up.
The ability for streaming services to receive music directly from SoundOn has been largely welcomed by the industry.
Nigel Harding, vice-president of artist relations at Deezer, told the BBC, “Launching SoundOn is a completely logical move for TikTok.
“The platform has a massive reach and a very strong music community, which of course creates a great appeal for emerging artists.
“From Lil Nas X and Olivia Rodrigo to more emerging talent like PinkPantheress and Shygirl — TikTok and other social platforms are fast becoming the default way to launch a music career.”
SoundOn will offer a range of support for artists, including audience insight and development advice from a dedicated artist team.
Beyond distribution, artists are mindful of getting their music in front of the right audience and that will always include traditional methods too, like buying albums and merchandise or going to gigs.