TikTok is building a music streaming service to rival Spotify and Apple called Resso. The company has now inked a deal with Merlin to feature thousands of indie artists on the platform.
The licensing deal with Merlin is the first announced by TikTok in the music industry. TikTok has apparently secured deals with other labels, but TechCrunch reports the deals are not public knowledge.
“Independent artists and labels are such a crucial part of music creation and consumption on TikTok,” said Ole Obermann, global head of music for TikTok. “We’re excited to partner with Merlin to bring their family of labels to the TikTok community. The breadth and diversity of the catalog presents our users with an even larger canvas from which to create, while giving independent artists the opportunity to connect with TikTok’s diverse community.”
TikTok’s deal with Merlin gives us a first look at what may be the template for future music licensing deals. The agreement includes provisions for music to be featured in short-form videos like TikTok and a new music streaming service.
Sources close to TikTok are confirming the new music streaming subscription service – Resso.
TikTok’s move into the music streaming business has been swirling as rumors for several months now. ByteDance even tested an early alpha version of the service in India and Indonesia last year.
The move into streaming is another shot for TikTok to generate revenue. The massive user growth for the platform has led to several monetization attempts.
The Big Three labels – Sony Music, Warner Music, and Universal Music – have yet to sign on. The deal with Merlin is the first of its kind publicly announced by the company.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the TikTok exec who made the announcement, Ole Obermann, is an ex-Warner Music hire. Obermann also hired former Warner colleague Tracy Gardner to head up Label Licensing for TikTok. Just yesterday, TikTok opened a massive 120,000 square foot office space in the heart of Culver City.
With Merlin taking the plunge, it will be interesting to see how many other labels hop on board. TikTok’s efforts to establish permanent office space in the U.S. may help with that.
Despite that, TikTok is still banned from U.S. government devices and is currently under investigation, however. That may lead some labels to shy away from public announcements for now.