TikTok is expanding its offices across the United States, moving into Nashville and expanding its Seattle offices. But the move into Nashville has sparked some political backlash.
The firm is owned by Chinese company ByteDance and is seeking to lease hundreds of thousands of square feet in Silicon Valley, Seattle, and Nashville, Tennessee according to property records coming to light. Down in Tennessee, TikTok is in talks for more than 100,000 square feet in one of Nashville’s new office developments, per multiple real estate reports.
“Construction on the 16-story Moore Building along the city’s famed Music Row was completed last year, and CBRE is marketing nearly 172,500 square feet of available office space, according to brokerage materials,” one report reads. Neither TikTok nor ByteDance have finalized any of their plans to take over these spaces—so pending discussions could fall through.
Upon learning of the efforts to expand in Nashville, Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn released a statement in opposition of the move.
“Tennesseans do not want Communist China to set up shop in our backyard. TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is tied to the Chinese Communist Party by strict laws in Beijing that force companies to hand over users’ personal data,” the statement begins.
“TikTok’s collaboration with China-based ByteDance all but confirms they are surrendering millions of Americans’ personal information directly into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This is not only a violation of user privacy, but a tremendous threat to our national security. We do not want TikTok operating anywhere in the United States, especially not in our state.”
The criticisms surrounding TikTok’s data collection policies are valid regardless of politics.
Digital Music News has reported time and time again how TikTok has been caught accessing data it was supposed to cordon off, or outright accessing users’ clipboards to see what they’ve copy/pasted recently. Independent reports from both Forbes and BuzzFeedNews confirmed that ByteDance engineers had backdoors into TikTok to retrieve user data and monitor specific users’ locations.
For the music industry, a move into Nashville could spell opportunity.
TikTok’s influence on both popular culture and artist careers remains fierce, and a toehold in Nashville means greater connectivity with budding songwriters and country artists. Additionally, TikTok now has a licensing framework to compensate music rights owners, though in a recent DMN Pro symposium on UGC royalties, industry executives noted that the system lacks the sophistication of YouTube’s Content ID.