Artist showing off TikTok royalties payout of cash

TikTok Royalties: How do Musicians Get Paid?

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Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

TikTok has taken social media by storm, with millions of users engaging in short-form videos and creative content. Better yet, it has become a powerful tool for musicians as TikTok offers an amazing opportunity for artists to promote their music, get discovered, and earn royalties.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a video-sharing app that currently has over one billion monthly users. One reason for the app’s popularity is how easy it is to create a video — the app is primarily phone-based. Users either upload their own videos or use the app to record one. Then, using TikTok’s editing features, users can apply filters, stickers, visual effects, sound effects, and add songs to their videos. The entire process of creation to posting can take just a few minutes.

The platform has a proven record of success in terms of breaking new artists, with “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X being the most famous early case. The song first went viral on TikTok and has gone one to become on of the best-selling singles of all time.

How to get your music on TikTok

The goal of every musician on TikTok is to get creators to use their music in their videos so they can start earning royalties. But how do you get your music on TikTok in the first place?

It’s pretty easy. You simply need to sign up with a digital distributor, like TuneCore, Distrokid, or CD Baby. Then, make sure you opt-in to distributing your music on TikTok.

How TikTok royalties work

In order to make the most of the platform and earn revenue from your music, it’s useful to understand how TikTok royalties work. While platforms like Spotify and Soundcloud pay musicians per the total number of streams, TikTok’s royalty payment system is based on the number of videos that use your song.

What’s a bit counterintuitive is that the number of views a video gets doesn’t matter when it comes to your royalties. As a music creator, you don’t want a few videos that use your song to go viral, you just want a ton of videos to use your song.

How much money will you make?

Currently, TikTok pays artists $0.03 for each new TikTok video that uses your song. So, if 1,000 videos use your song, you will earn $30.

How much of that $30 comes to you depends on which music distribution service you use, as they all have different royalty payment plans. CD Baby, for example, takes nine percent of your royalties. So, if you are distributed by CD Baby, you would take home $27.30 of that $30.

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Maximizing royalty earnings on TikTok

OK, so once your music is on TikTok, what’s the best way to maximize your earnings? Here are some strategies to consider.

  • Create music with videos in mind. If you want to get famous on TikTok and have your music go viral, you might consider flipping the script when it comes to songwriting. Usually, musicians write a song and then consider how to turn that song into a video. Instead, consider writing a song that can be easily incorporated into video trends. This may require a new approach to your musical vision, but if breaking into the music industry through TikTok is important, then think cinematically when writing your songs.
  • Jump on trends and collaborations. TikTok is constantly buzzing with trends and challenges. Keep an eye on the latest trends and collaborate with other TikTok creators to amplify your reach. Participating in popular challenges and duets can expose your music to new audiences and increase the chances of your songs going viral.
  • Use hashtags. Hashtags play a crucial role in content discovery on all social media platforms, and TikTok is no exception. Research popular hashtags and, when appropriate for your new music, use them for your own TikTok videos. This increases the visibility of your content and helps users searching for specific music styles or themes find your songs.
  • Engage with the TikTok community. Actively engage with your followers and the wider TikTok community. Respond to comments, follow other creators, and participate in conversations. Building a strong connection with your audience encourages them to engage more with your content.
  • Link to other platforms from your TikTok account. TikTok allows you to link to other sites, like Spotify, Apple Music, and your website. Drive traffic to these stores and streaming platforms so you can turn TikTok views into CD, vinyl, and download sales.

Sampling and cover songs

Before you upload your music to a distributor (and then to TikTok) make sure you have cleared any songs you are sampling or covering. If your song contains samples, use a clearance service to make sure you have gotten permission/music rights to use the song and paid the negotiated fee. Failure to clear your samples and covers can prove to be a costly mistake down the line.

Using TikTok for music promotion

TikTok offers various monetization options for musicians to promote their music. Let’s explore some of these options.

  1. TikTok ads. Like most other social media platforms, TikTok offers advertising options. Here is a great video describing how to best use TikTok ads to your advantage.
  2. Influencer collaborations. Partnering with TikTok influencers who have a large following can significantly boost your music’s reach. Collaborate with influencers who align with your musical style and message to see if they will create TikTok videos featuring your songs.
  3. User-generated content. Remember, it’s the number of videos that use your music that will earn you money, so encourage other TikTok users to create their own videos using your music. Create challenges or dance routines around your songs and encourage users to participate.

Get Your Music Noticed!

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About Philip Kinsher

Philip Kinsher is a writer, editor, and musician with a predilection for YA Sci-fi Fantasy books and rock and roll. And golf and pickleball.

3 thoughts on “TikTok Royalties: How do Musicians Get Paid?

  1. This is slightly incorrect. I had a track go viral on TikTok in 2021 which has been used in roughly 2m videos. However, my European PRO just paid me a very large sum of money based on around 3 Billion streams of the track on TikTok, during a nine month period in 2021. This proves that music revenue from TikTok is not restricted to the paltry 0.03 per video that is paid to distributors. Incidentally, my PRO performance royalty payment came from many EU and non-EU countries, but so far has not included USA. So it’s possible that TikTok are avoiding paying PRO royalties in that territory.

  2. So I will need to find 1,000 people who will each use my song in their video in order to earn $30.00? That’s the equivalent of selling 3 CDs via my website. Guess which route I”ll take?

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