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Posted on January 9, 2023

Big Takeaways Around TikTok And Music In 2023

By Shawn Spence
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We're chiming in with an article on the Tik and the Tok of today. Yes, TikTok was always in the news in the music industry in 2022, for better or worse. Swipe up, read, and enjoy as we examine the major talking topics here!

Prominent Artists Are Still Joining But Others Feel Pressured

Any platform that can get Beyoncé and Dolly Parton to sign up is obviously special, following a trend that has seen a number of well-known musicians join TikTok in an effort to capture its culture. Both of these acts and more recent, up-and-coming musicians who are already familiar with the site can succeed on TikTok.

Unfortunately for the app, it wasn't actually THE story this year regarding musicians and TikTok. Stories of musicians feeling pressured by their labels to use TikTok and, to use a phrase, "make their music go viral" abounded in late April.

TikTok isn't to blame per such; it's just the popular platform right now. The primary issue is how the music biz responds to it; pressuring musicians to use it and make it popular is the wrong course of action.

Music Rightsholders Are Rumbling Over Royalties

2022 also came under some of its own criticism around music consumption, in particular, how it compensates record labels and publishers for the music played in its app. TikTok does have a number of license agreements, although they are often rather short-term and must be renewed every few years. This subsequent round of renewals is... challenging.

In November, news of the secret talks broke into the open, making it obvious that major labels wanted TikTok to get much higher royalties. Labels want a portion of TikTok's advertising profits, not simply upfront flat-fee payments, according to a different reliable report.

Due to the importance of both TikTok and music, new agreements will be reached. It would be fascinating to watch how the specifics of its new accords are communicated to the larger industry and artists in light of the current discussions about the lack of transparency around such agreements.

TikTok Is In The Music Livestreaming Game

The ability to broadcast live content on TikTok is nothing new, but in 2022 it solidified its position as a venue for pre-recorded concerts and music live streams, frequently with a sprinkle of innovative technology.

A rising number of musicians are going live on TikTok in more casual ways between these staged events to promote albums and tours or to just respond to fan inquiries.

TikTok Could Power The Next Big Music-Streaming Service

Let's get to the bottom of why TikTok is causing concern among reputable streaming providers, why its agreements with rightsholders are risky, and why there is a larger pattern to its expanding aspirations in the music industry. TikTok could be the foundation of the next major disruptive music streaming by this time next year.

It's a well-kept secret. In the US, TikTok's parent company ByteDance has applied for a trademark for "TikTok Music." Two Wall Street Journal articles, published in October and December, made clear that the plans may involve a global expansion of ByteDance's current Resso streaming service, but with a close integration with TikTok.

TikTok’s In-App Spending Is Bigger Than You Thought

The persistent work of app analytics has revealed the development of TikTok's in-app spending, despite the misconception that the app is free and earns its money through advertising.

We're referring to TikTok customers shelling out cash for the app's digital "coins," which they can then use to tip producers and ad videos. It's crucial to realize that TikTok users do more than just view videos for free. Why? Because of the potential for some of the features to be used by artists in the future: from tips in live streams to subscriptions at the creator level.

TikTok Is Just Getting Started With Advertising

But let's not forget about advertising, which is also expanding quickly for TikTok. These are only estimates, of course; no one predicted the Covid-19 pandemic, and we fear to imagine what other unknowns could surface between now and 2027. 

But predictions can have a big impact. They have an influence on big labels' demands during negotiations for a portion of these advertising earnings as part of new licensing agreements, for instance. Additionally, they impact the strategy of long-standing competitors that perceive a danger.

Coming next: AR, Shopping, Avatars, Games…

TikTok must continue to innovate if it is to maintain its position as a cultural icon for as long as feasible. There is a lot happening at the firm outside of the core music functions, and many of these additional technologies could be helpful to musicians as well.

Stay connected with MusicPromoToday to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments. Visit the MPT Blog to find out more about what’s going on in the music industry and what’s to come.


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    Posted on November 3, 2022

    TikTok Sets Off To Become Record Labels’ Biggest New Competitor

    By John Reynolds
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    Record labels have taken a new form and it looks a lot like TikTok. The short-form video-sharing company has plans to increase its share in the marketplace by distributing music for independent emerging artists. Is TikTok The Biggest Competitor?

    Music label companies and TikTok have had a pretty rough start and although they’re on good terms amid the multiple revenue-sharing deals, it seems the feud is set to rise again, as the platform wants to expand its dominance in the industry.

    The giant labels are aware of TikTok’s power to create chart-topping hits and they wouldn’t miss an opportunity like that to invest their money, especially when they can give potential up-and-coming artists a chance to shine.

    But with over one billion users and over 200 million downloads in the US alone, TikTok is slowly paving the way for its expansion, and with the launch of SoundOn, it’s only normal that the traditional record labels feel threatened.

    It wasn’t long ago that ByteDance (TikTok's parent company) started up the all-in-one platform for music creators and independent artists, where musicians can hold 100% ownership of their songs and receive 100% of the royalties. All these flexible contractual clauses have made it easier for them to promote their music and reach global audiences. 

    Now, it appears that ByteDance is also on the hunt for A&R scouts. Rising to the task of offering all the services of the traditional music business; finding, signing, and marketing artists, TikTok with the support of ByteDance has become a full-circle label company.

    According to Murray Stassen (MBW), ByteDance is hiring new A&R managers in LA, NY, Miami, and Toronto. The job description requires candidates to “focus on the US music landscape, to sign and develop artists within the independent music community.”

    ByteDance is targeting independent artists by marketing itself as the “#1 partner for artist development, promotion, and monetization.” In addition, TikTok has over 100 new music-related job openings in all parts of the world, including Europe (Germany, France, UK), South America (Brazil), South Africa, and Asia (India). 

    Major music and entertainment businesses like The Orchard (Sony Music Publishing subsidiary) will have no choice but to compete with TikTok’s parent company. The tension is already building up between TikTok and Sony Music, as the latter recently pulled its catalog from the music streaming platform Resso (Owned by ByteDance).

    Further new restrictions are being set, as substantial businesses are now asking the fast-rising platform to change its licensing deals on a revenue-share basis. If this gets applied, music industry giants, along with the artists, will get paid every time their music is played in a monetized video on TikTok.

    Stay connected with MusicPromoToday to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments. Visit the MPT Agency Blog to find out more about what’s going on in the music industry and what’s to come.


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      Posted on August 1, 2022

      CryptoCrash: What Does It Mean For Music?

      By Yvonne Martin
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      Since the beginning of May, cryptocurrency values have decreased dramatically, including Ethereum's ETH, which is home to some of the most prominent NFT projects and platforms. The value of ETH has more than halved in comparison to other “fiat” currencies like the US dollar or the Euro.

      While macroeconomic factors are vital, there has long been a sense that the market was overheated and needed to be corrected. The bull cycle ended abruptly with the bankruptcy of Terra-Luna, evaporating an estimated $42 billion. 

      Enter the “bear market.”

      Three stages of a bear market

      People who entered crypto (and its latest appellation “web3”) in the last 1-2 years are apt to think of bear markets as instances when enthusiasm simply dies down, but it goes far deeper than that and is incomparable to the hype in cultural realms. A Twitter thread by crypto veteran Jason Yanowitz gives a combative explanation.

      Stage 1: The Unwind The excitement (and greed) from the bull market still exists. Mini-narratives pop up for weeks at a time. Assets still have floors. Valuations are cut but companies don't make the tough decisions (kill products, layoffs). Things seem alright.

      Stage 1 doesn't *feel* like a bear market. It feels like prices have pulled back to "realistic" valuations. Investors continue allocating, builders keep building... In general, life is good. Only the weak hands sell.

      We've reached stage 2 since the Terra-Luna collapse:

      Stage 2: Forced Capitulation This is where it gets ugly. Narratives die. Prices fall 90%... then another 90%. Layoffs across the board. Mainstream media and cynics rise up in Stage 2. They laugh and shout "I told you!"

      This eventually leads us to stage 3: winter.

      That idea is terrifying if you are developing in web3. Very frightening. Not because you don't believe in what you're doing, but because you don't know how it will pay the bills. Even if you have a sound revenue model or have acquired funding, it may be difficult to attract talent or general interest since people may have moved on to the next bright thing like the metaverse.

      The unfortunate fact is that music follows the money. Artists must make difficult decisions regarding how they will pay their bills in order to focus on their work full-time. With gigs gone at the beginning of the pandemic, others moved to live streaming and creative economic system models like Patreon, which eventually gave way to 'web3' with artists learning how to market their art as NFTs. They introduced a new market for their art that settles above 'feels like free' streaming pricing, paid downloads from websites like Bandcamp, and closer to what one could get compensated for a gig, but in this particular circumstance, all the value is transferred by a single person or community of people rather than an entire audience.
      However, the NFT economy is stalling. According to the NFT market tracker NFTGo, trade volumes among so-called "blue chip NFTs" have decreased. Blue chips are among the industry's most popular and well-known NFT collections, and so give an excellent snapshot of the overall market mood. In USD terms, the volume has been cut in half.

      A project like Songcamp Chaos, with full backing from the space and an incredibly creative approach, would have simply sold out only months ago, but it has only sold roughly half of its 5,000-pack collection so far. Yet, just 188 genesis membership passes have been sold by Venice Music, with sales centering around the debut day. Not long ago, this would have looked different as well.

      In summary, it's difficult to sell NFTs right now, and the amount of money NFT sales may make in dollars has plummeted. As a result, musicians and other artists may spend less time creating since they will need to find other methods to make a living.

      What it doesn’t mean for music

      Web3 is not 'dead.' All that was there remains. Web3 refers to the infrastructure, technology, and methods, not the buzz. Projects with weak theses will fail, as will their supporters (think: cash grabs). Their DAOs will fade away.

      In the instance of the COLORSxCOMMUNITY, with the beginning of the concept of how COLORS may long-term weave its audience into itself (and vice versa). That community occurred before the incorporation of web3 technology. The motivation for incorporating web3-tooling is equity: not necessarily monetary assets, but equity as a basic principle. It was wanted for the community to be equal for its members, and while web3 has a lot of challenges, it is still the simplest approach for communities to achieve completely equitable outcomes.

      Organizations and individuals who work along these lines will always look for reasons to explore, build, and so on. 

      Consider this: take away all earnings from an artist. Will they cease creating music? No. 

      Will they take a month off to tour and do a slew of free engagements that they were previously compensated for? Unlikely.

      Build market

      The 'bear market,' as some call it, is also known as the build market. As the market heated up and the music industry embraced web3, people began to see a slew of issues develop. These vary from technological challenges in transitioning to web3, to environmental concerns, to the formation of communities with massive economic moats (pay-to-play), to speculators pump-and-dump on legitimate enterprises. All of these problems, and many more, now have domains for builders to come in and offer specialized solutions.

      Many web3 organizations have squandered a lot of time and money in the last year or two. If your community has a liquid token, users may pay out their membership whenever they choose. This motivates organizations, particularly their elected leadership, to pursue initiatives that maintain high token prices. Unfortunately, these token values are influenced more by buzz, speculations, and emotions than by genuinely meaningful contributions like public goods. However, in a bad market, speculation ceases. There is less motive to create excitement, and because expenditures are much smaller, there is far more need to produce with concentration.

      Ideas alone are no longer sufficient. It's time to execute with determination, without hesitation, and with a dedication to making difficult decisions quickly.

      Make sure you check our blog regularly and follow us on Instagram for more NFT and music marketing-related updates.


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        Posted on July 28, 2022

        How Black Dave Is Defining What It Means To Be a Web3 Music Artist

        By John Reynolds
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        Multidisciplinary artist Dave Curry (aka Black Dave) has risen through the ranks of the NFT music ecosystem during the past year. Even by NFT standards, he's a one-of-a-kind artist who has funneled his sense of humor, love of anime, and musical skill into a fascinating blend of art that is well-known around the crypto world.

        Dave, who initially tried his hand at NFTs around the end of 2020, has come a long way since his early days of minting anime characters. But, despite his extensive branching, he has not abandoned his origins. His current NFTs retain the humorous and passionate essence of his personality.

        Early Beginnings
        Black Dave's narrative may be related to every 20-something NFT enthusiast. In the aftermath of a global epidemic, Dave doubled down on his love, devoting a substantial portion of his time and energy to music. “In 2020, I was making a beat every day, and I was putting it out for sale every day. So they’re 400 or so beats for sale on the internet right now,” Dave mentioned in an interview. “I was writing a three-song EP every month. I would produce, it recorded, mix it, master it, and make the cover art,” he continued.

        He first learned about NFTs in 2020, due to an old acquaintance who had been flipping paintings on Nifty Gateway and making good money. Dave realized flipping wasn't going to work for him, but following this introduction, he became interested in minting his own NFTs.
        “I was really trying to be a rapper. Really trying to be a producer,” Dave says about his early beginnings in NFTs. “I just kept making music. Then, in December of 2020, I got into NFTs for real and minted my first NFT.”

        According to Dave, his first NFT was a nod to the sort of visual art he had previously created. His first NFT, in particular, was an unused piece of cover art that had never been distributed.

        Notably, Dave's visual art style frequently significantly relies on altering and combining anime and manga imagery created by others. As a result, his first few endeavors did not go over well with everyone.

        “Artists in the space, especially artists that were doing anime style, said, ‘you’re just taking other people’s art and making it your own,'” Dave stated. “But that was literally was the point. So much of my aesthetic is taking things that exist and reformatting them. That’s just rap music too. You know? Production of rap music is sampling. Even streetwear culture can be just flipping logos.”

        Nonetheless, Dave opted to depart from his first projects and focus on 2D and 3D art. Of course, there's music.

        Music On The Blockchain

        Nowadays, Black Dave is well renowned for his contributions to the NFT music scene. His NFT music adventure began with his edition piece Black Dave, Black Comet. Soon after, he acquired control of NFT music innovation.
        Black Dave released a "Verse Token" as part of his BlackDave.io 002 collection in July 2021, among several 3D landscapes and his final few Manga Tears works. The mechanics of this single token were actually the collection's focal point. The "Black Dave Verse Token," as it was called, allowed its owner to redeem a verse from Black Dave at any time. While organizations like Arpeggi Labs had previously proposed blockchain music collaborations, Dave's drop may have been the first collaborative rap NFT ever made.

        Dave highlighted the drop's fundamental physics, adding that it allowed people to combine both broad themes and music. “The unlockable content for the NFT is a link to a Google Form. In the Google Form, you can type in what you want me to rap about. You can upload a beat in the Google Form that uploads to Google Drive for me to rap to, and then I send it back,” he said.

        Dave's greatest sale at the time was the "Black Dave Verse Token," which sold at auction for 0.33 ETH ($1,089). According to Dave, the winning bidder was aware of the token's potential before bidding and was shocked to obtain it for such a low price.

        “The person who collected it was like, ‘I bid on it, but I wasn’t expecting to win it because I thought it was going to be the biggest thing in music NFTs,'” Dave mentioned in an interview. “Which is the story of my life, right? Everyone’s like, ‘What a genius idea — this should have sold for way more!’ That’s like the epitome of my whole existence in web3.”

        From then, Black Dave went on to release two additional tracks, "Appreciate It" and "Kaioken 10," as part of the BlackDave.io 002 collection before getting allowed to mint his music on the top music NFT platform, Catalog.

        Black Dave: Curated

        In the winter of 2022, Black Dave was chosen for a Catalog release, launching him on the path to his present status in the music NFT sector. His record "Sharp" was created on November 8, 2021, and it eventually fetched 3 ETH (about $10,200) at auction on January 6.

        "Sharp" was sold through PartyBid, a service that allows a group of collectors to get together and contribute gradually to collectively bidding on an item. When an auction is won on PartyBid, every contributing member of that party receives a token representing fractional ownership of the NFT that was acquired.

        This feature is rarely used, leaving collectors with the option of holding the token and selling it later. But Dave, being Dave, decided to add some extra value to his NFTs' associated $SHARP token. How? By allowing token holders to influence what occurs with the "Sharp" NFT.

        “What I did was I tied the $SHARP token to governance. Right now, there’s a vote happening around whether or not I should put ‘Sharp’ on streaming. The people who participated in the PartyBid are the only ones who can vote,” Dave said “I’m putting my spin on fan ownership by allowing them to actually vote on decisions surrounding my music. In the future, they’ll vote on [things] like: should the song have a music video, how much money should I spend on that music video, how much money should I spend on marketing?”
        Dave then moved on to Sound, a service that mixes streaming with minting and community listening. Dave continues his good streak on Sound, releasing "Triple Beam" on February 2 and earning 2.5 ETH ($6,440).

        Next Up: Black Dave

        What's next for Dave? To begin with, more music.

        Now, barely three months into 2022, Dave is planning his third release of the year, this time through the curated NFT music site MintSongs. With this release, Dave will deliver one of his most distinctive projects to date — an EP titled WOLF, which he claims will be predominantly rock-focused — in an effort to determine whether or not the genre has promise in the NFT area.

        “I think testing rock music is going to be really fun. I’ve never written a straight-up rock EP, even though I’ve been in bands,” Dave said “Normally, it’s me and another person. This is me doing all the music myself, recording everything myself. I just want to see if there’s a home for rock music in the same way that there is rap music.”

        Once the WOLF drop is complete, Dave will be attending SXSW as part of ZORATOPIA, an event hosted by community NFT platform and marketplace Zora. The event will include four activations, two of which will include Dave speaking and performing for the first time at SXSW.

        Dave said he'll be back to focus on his own projects after WOLF and SXSW. While he continues to navigate the vast web of curated music NFT platforms, he has returned to find out how to innovate with his own solo endeavors. Dave intends to build a layer of NFTs for his most ardent fans in the near future. He aspires to merge the digital and real worlds to provide his collectors with a more immersive experience.

        After all, Dave isn't entirely reliant on the blockchain. He'd been composing music for a long time before he started minting it. And, in some respects, his objectives were the same then as they are now. NFTs are a terrific way to generate online money and build community, but Dave still wants to be a musician on a bigger platform.

        Make sure you check our blog regularly and follow us on Instagram for more NFT and music marketing-related updates.


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