Ckay found global fame via TikTok. — © AFP
With a billion users, TikTok has rapidly become one of the most important players in the music industry, and now has its sights set on revolutionising the way artists are discovered and get paid.
Success stories such as Lil Nas X — whose “Old Town Road” became effectively the biggest-selling US single of all time after going viral on TikTok — have demonstrated the power of the short-form video app.
Major labels, which initially freaked out over TikTokers using their music without a licence, quickly realised they needed to get on board.
“When a disruptive tech platform appears, understandably the rights-holders get uncomfortable,” TikTok’s head of music Ole Obermann told AFP.
He was brought in from Warner Music in December 2019 to thrash out deals with the labels.
“Obviously we had to pay out substantial amounts of money. The good news is we’re totally licenced now and we’re talking to them every day about new things that haven’t been done before.”
– ‘Changing everything’ –
Meanwhile, TikTok has continued to create viral sensations that are reshaping the musical landscape.
Sometimes, it’s old songs given a new lease of life, such as recent crazes for Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” or Boney M’s “Rasputin”.
But often it’s new or independent artists, who no longer need the backing of record labels to find a massive audience.
“It’s hard to overstate how much this is changing everything,” said Tom Rosenthal, a London-based musician whose songs have been used on 1.6 million TikTok videos.
“Major labels are kinda crapping their pants because the traditional systems of marketing no longer apply. (TikTok) is a great leveller. You can do it on your own,” he said.
Some artists are becoming huge without even knowing about the app.
That was the case with Nigerian popstar CKay. His 2019 single “Love Nwantiti” was a decent-sized hit in his home country, but then TikTok users got hold of it, and by November 2021 it had surpassed 15 billion streams and topped charts from Asia to Europe to North America.
– ‘On to something’ –
TikTok is already thinking about next steps.
Its latest service, SoundOn, offers unsigned artists a simpler way to upload songs, get paid and find distribution.
Obermann hints this could see TikTok become more like a record label.
“We think we’re on to something,” he said, highlighting recent viral hits by unsigned acts Muni Lang and Games We Play.
“It’s early days in deciding exactly how we work with these artists on building their careers. But we see we can play a much bigger role in the artist discovery process in a very hands-on way.”
– Pent-up demand –
Obermann also hopes to revolutionise the way that songs are used for adverts — a part of the business that is currently worth around $500 million globally per year but could be worth much more.
“Traditionally, it meant something like a big car brand licencing Celine Dion’s ‘I Drove All Night’ for their TV ads,” he said.
“But we have about one million small and medium businesses who want to make TikTok ads using music. And it’s an absolute nightmare because our licences don’t include commercial usage.”
Currently, each commercial use requires TikTok to get special permission from the label and all the songwriters, which can take months.
“It’s extremely inefficient. If we can redesign the way that works, (the global licencing business) would go from $500 million to several billion within a few years. There’s that much pent-up demand. We’re really working on that.”
Other ideas include live-streaming concerts and direct sales, with some artists already flogging vinyls and merch through the platform.
But will TikTok disappear as quickly as it arrived? The ghost of MySpace, a previous revolutionary force in music, haunts its successors.
“That’s something we think about every day when we wake up,” said Obermann.
“We’re confident TikTok has tipped into the cultural zeitgeist to a tremendous extent at this point. But it’s always day one and you have to keep reinventing yourself to stay relevant.”
Meta Expands Automated Ad Optimization Options via ‘Meta Advantage’ Program
As it works to mitigate the impacts of Apple’s ATT privacy prompts, which have reduced its capacity for personalization and data-based ad targeting, Meta’s looking to enhance its automated ad tools, and make them more available to more businesses, via a new expansion of its ‘Meta Advantage’ automation program.
Originally launched back in March, Meta Advantage groups together its various ad automation and AI-based tools, in order to make it easier for advertisers to understand which elements do what, while also highlighting the various automation tools it has on offer.
And now, Meta’s expanding its Advantage options – first off, Meta’s adding ‘Advantage+ Shopping’ campaigns, which will provide assistance in ad creation, and will be able to automate up to 150 creative combinations at once.
As per Meta:
“Rolling out to ecommerce and retail advertisers on August 15, the Advantage+ shopping campaigns tool gives advertisers new ways to optimize campaigns. Advantage+ shopping campaigns uses AI to automate the campaign creation process and is powered by new machine learning models.”
Those models, according to Meta, have been generating good results:
“In a study of 15 A/B tests, we discovered that Advantage+ shopping campaigns drove 12% lower cost per purchase conversion compared to advertisers’ Business as Usual (BAU) ads.”
The update will provide more options for eCommerce brands, while Meta’s also looking to enable businesses with a FB or IG Shop to use it as a destination for Advantage+ shopping campaigns.
“We’ll then use the power of AI to direct people to the Shop or the seller’s website based on what has the highest likelihood to result in a transaction.”
So the process (which is still in testing) will be able to guide users to where they’re more likely to convert, based on their past behavior. Elements like this have been particularly impacted by Apple’s update, because Meta can’t track where people are tapping through to – though recent research has shown that Meta is still able to track link click activity when you use the in-app browser in its apps.
That could make this a more effective option, which could be worth considering in your campaigns.
Meta’s also looking to give SMBs more access to the same tools, with smaller brands now able to access Advantage+ creative and Advantage audience to create ads via their Facebook Page.
“Advantage+ creative automatically adjusts ad creative for each person who views your ad. This helps show them the version they’re most likely to respond to, delivering better ad performance, while Advantage audience creates a personalized audience based on your Page details and automatically adjusts over time to help you reach more relevant people with your ad.”
Both of these new options are now available when you create ads from your Facebook Page.
Meta’s also updated its creative optimization options via Ads Manager, in order to better enable advertisers to create multiple versions of an ad, that are optimized for what viewers are more likely to respond to, while it’s also testing a new process that will automatically add music from Meta’s sound catalog to image-based ads, ‘creating a more immersive experience for placements in Reels ads’.
These are some interesting updates, and it may well be worth exploring Meta’s evolving Advantage product suite, in order to gauge how they might help to enhance your campaigns in its apps.
Using automation has become an increasingly viable option for brands, as online ad systems continue to evolve and ‘learn’ from user behaviors. And again, with less data to go on, due to the new iOS prompts, automation could well be the best way to maximize campaign performance.
You can learn more about Meta Advantage here.
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