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Could TikTok be looking to scale back the use of music in the app?

As reported by Bloomberg, TikTok is currently running a test among some users in Australia which will restrict their capacity to add music to their clips.

As per Bloomberg:

“TikTok is limiting the number of songs that users can post on its app, an experiment to assess how much they value music in their videos. Content creators won’t be able to use certain songs, the company said in a statement.”

The idea, Bloomberg suggests, is that TikTok’s looking to put a dollar value on the use of music in the app, as a bargaining chip in its future negotiations with music publishers.

TikTok’s owner ByteDance has sought to negotiate lower payments on music usage within the app, arguing that music is not as crucial to the TikTok experience as publishers suggest.

That’s also expanded to other ByteDance apps – Sony Music, for example, removed its music from ByteDance’s music platform Resso last year after negotiations broke down on a viable payment structure.

It seems that ByteDance is now trying to further prove that it doesn’t need music as much as publishers think. So it’s not moving away from music, as such, but more using this as an experiment in order to seemingly gain more leverage in future negotiations.

What will the impact of that be on creators and brands?

Well, brands are already restricted in the sounds that they can use in their clips, with TikTok’s royalty-free Sound Library set to remain aside from these explorations.

But for users, it could see a change in how music is used in the app, and how it drives trends, particularly if TikTok is eventually forced to remove some songs due to breakdowns in negotiations.

But that’s also a way off, and maybe, this is just a small-scale test to see what results it gets.

If usage remains high, despite some songs disappearing, maybe that’s enough of an argument for ByteDance to reduce its payments to publishers.

As noted, the test is underway for selected songs in Australia.