TikTok has revolutionized the way music is discovered, used and consumed today; now the long-term effort to build a business around it is getting a boost. The ByteDance app today announced a search feature called “NewMusic,” which users can use to find new songs and artists to promote them.
To see new music under “NewMusic”, enter NewMusic in the search bar and from there you can click on the dedicated hub and hashtag.
To be clear, TikTok has developed a new search and discovery experience for hearing new music — one that starts with recommendations from artists big on its main user base, including the Jonas Brothers and Miguel.
But it doesn’t build this out of thin air. The hashtag NewMusic had already been viewed 18 billion times before today’s launch, according to TikTok. The launch certainly boosts that: at the time of writing, according to my TikTok app, that viewing figure is now 19.1 billion.
TikTok’s music roots lie in the DNA of the app itself, which first came to life as Musical.ly and focused on user-generated videos of people, many of them teens and other younger users, lip-syncing various tunes.
Musical.ly eventually merged with TikTok after ByteDance acquired it, reportedly for $1 billion, then bolstered it with a ridiculously successful recommendation algorithm, a lick of tacky UI, and a shower of creative variations on the concept from users themselves, it all really from ground to become what we know today. All along, however, music has been the beating drum of the app.
Funnily enough, considering TikTok’s huge impact on the music world, it’s not only a must-do for artists marketing their music, but it also creates hits and hit makers out of thin air when songs are used in posts that go viral ; and it’s even prompted other stalwarts in the streaming space to completely rethink their own interfaces, making them more like TikTok to boost appeal and engagement – it’s ironic that the company has danced around its own place in the music industry somewhat.
In November, Bloomberg reported that all major labels wanted to renegotiate their TikTok deals — they want more royalties, of course — though it’s not clear if a resolution has been reached yet.
ByteDance has has built a music-focused app, Resso, but it’s only launched in three markets so far (India, Indonesia, and Brazil) and recently set up a paywall to control who’s really using it.
A report from the WSJ last year noted that ByteDance is looking to expand on that. However, with so many questions about the app and its parent company and how it is used, or could be shut down, in markets like the US due to security concerns, that could mean that developments on that front may not be moving fast.
And there are other controversies that are unlikely to go away any time soon. AI-based music, for example, is something that will likely be an eyesore to many labels and artists if they feel their IP has been lifted.
However, ByteDance has had an interest in AI and how it can play a role in music for a while now. Given how that whole area is unfolding today, it took a very prescient step several years ago to acquire Jukedeck, an early player in the generative AI music space.
But if we just look at how music is discovered and consumed today, the company – parent and app – clearly sees huge opportunity for itself as a vehicle for marketing and beyond. Witness the standalone SoundOn distribution service built and released in various markets including biggies like the US
Our world today is overrun with a veritable cacophony of information vying for our attention, and search has become the killer app: give people a way to get music out of the noise (or, more literally, find things they want find), and you win the internet. That’s something that TikTok and parent ByteDance certainly understand with their own new approach to search and discovery.
“We are excited to launch the #NewMusic Hub, a global discovery platform that celebrates and champions artists of all genres, from up-and-coming talent to international superstars,” said Paul Hourican, global head of Music Operations at TikTok, in a statement. “TikTok is already a destination for artists looking to check out their latest works, as well as music fans looking to discover new music, and this new feature gives artists a new way to connect with our global community. It provides a great opportunity to inspire artist creativity, build connections and nurture a diverse musical landscape that embraces the unique talents and passions of artists and fans around the world.”
We asked TikTok some questions about NewMusic’s search feature, including what kind of sponsorship is baked into the platform, and if it will ever be there if there isn’t one right now; how it ties in with buying tracks on location or through third parties; and how one is sifted to the top of the quest pile. We will update as we learn more.