TikTok’s Music Division Reportedly Grapples With U.S. Layoffs Following Streaming Service Launch

tiktok layoffs
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tiktok layoffs
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TikTok music division layoffs have reportedly affected seven stateside employees. Photo Credit: Solen Feyissa

About one month after TikTok Music became available in nations including Brazil and Indonesia, the division behind the streaming service’s music offerings is reportedly grappling with layoffs.

Word of TikTok’s music-side personnel cutbacks, including across its TikTok Music streaming service and its SoundOn distribution platform, entered the media spotlight in a report from Billboard. At the time of this writing, ByteDance and TikTok execs hadn’t addressed the matter publicly.

Similarly, none of the reportedly impacted individuals – seven staffers in total, all based in the United States – seemed to have weighed in on the less-than-ideal news on LinkedIn. Inversely, in a sign that the layoffs might be one component of a broader shakeup, two-year company vet Alex Shahparnia today announced his elevation from SoundOn artist and label partnerships lead to label and promotion lead for the overarching TikTok.

According to anonymous sources cited in the noted report, though, the team-size reduction has reached the aforementioned units as well as TikTok’s global music division. One of the affected persons, senior product strategy and operations head Kelly Chen Solomero, had per her LinkedIn profile led a more than 30-person team “to launch SoundOn.”

Another now-former TikTok employee, U.S. music partnerships and operations lead Marisa Jeffries, started with the highly controversial short-form app in March of 2021 following a total of over 15 years at Sony Music and SoundCloud, her own LinkedIn profile shows.

Needless to say, it’ll be worth keeping an eye out for additional (and potentially farther-reaching) layoffs from TikTok, which in July of 2022 moved to trim a comparatively substantial 100 or so positions. Specifically when it comes to music, however, logic suggests that the video-sharing giant could largely maintain (and possibly keep on growing) its team in the approaching months notwithstanding concerns about the economy and ByteDance’s massive losses.

Expanding upon the point, ByteDance and TikTok, far from avoiding music expansion initiatives, have during 2023 rolled out a livestream music competition, an artist-promotion program called Elevate, a “portable audio workstation” called Ripple, a bolstered song-discovery hub, and a “talent manager portal,” to name some.

Meanwhile, TikTok has also continued to build out the previously highlighted TikTok Music and scored a major licensing agreement with Warner Music Group on the year. But recent headlines haven’t been entirely positive for the platform, which was this week banned on government devices in New York City due to longstanding security concerns associated with its use.