Amid speculation over its future in the US, TikTok's counteroffensive, thus far, has largely revolved around showcasing the value its platform provides for Americans - both in terms of general usage and in creating new opportunities in jobs, content revenue, exposure, etc.
Which, in the middle of a pandemic, when unemployment figures are at record highs, should be of value, and could, TikTok would hope, reduce the US Government's opposition to the app. Maybe.
This week, it's announced another measure on this front, partnering with UnitedMasters to formulate a new music distribution opportunity for independent artists.
As per TikTok:
"The partnership between TikTok and UnitedMasters enables TikTok users to distribute the music directly to other music streaming platforms. TikTok will opt all music from its creators who join UnitedMasters into the platform's Commercial Music Library, with the artist’s blessing, giving businesses access to a large catalog of new sounds to use in their content. TikTok will also partner with UnitedMasters in promoting key artists on the platform."
So, essentially, TikTok will facilitate music distribution deals with UnitedMasters, which will help little known musicians to launch their careers via the app.
Already, TikTok has become a key platform for music distribution, with some publishers even changing the names of their artists' tracks in line with how they're being referred to on the platform. The partnership with UnitedMasters builds on this, and could, as noted, provide more opportunity for musicians to gain viral traction through the app.
Though as noted by TechCrunch, that might not ingratiate TikTok with other music labels.
"By promoting indie artists to help them achieve viral success without a traditional label’s involvement, TikTok could become a launching pad for artists who don’t want a label deal."
Music publishers have been pushing for TikTok to provide a more equitable revenue share model for its music usage, and while it does have licensing arrangements in place at present, the labels will likely be pushing for revisions in the next round of negotiations, given the platform's massive success over the last year.
But the focus, from TikTok's perspective, is on its benefit to the US economy. Last month, TikTok launched its $200 million creator fund in the US, which it then subsequently announced would be increased to $1 billion over the next three years, while it's also looking to create 10,000 new TikTok jobs across the US.
As per TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer:
"TikTok has become the place where new music is discovered and explodes onto the scene, such as Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road." During the pandemic, we saw the resonance of Curtis Roach, whose "Bored in the House" mantra became an anthem for putting a positive spin on tough times and helped people better cope with the lockdowns."
The messaging here is that TikTok is good, it's a good thing for the US economy, and that banning it will only hurt the local market. You wouldn't want to do that, would you US Senators?
Given this, this latest announcement is in line with TikTok's overall approach, and you can expect the platform to look for more ways to further root itself into the US economy, in order to make it more difficult to pull out, moving forward.