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TikTok - a surprising development for my own music

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This is a follow up to a recent post - "Digital Distribution and How to Get Dollars (Publishing) vs Fractions of a Cent (Streaming)" - April 4.


To recap, I'm a total amateur, I don't perform in public and have no fan base.  I create music at home and have digitally distributed four albums via CD-Baby in 2004, 2015, 2020 and 2021.   The only 'marketing' I do is maintaining a website, making a swag of music videos for Youtube, paying for the albums to be reviewed, a couple of newspaper articles (my age/experience rather than the music itself) and occasional entering the videos into film festivals.


At the start of 2022 I noticed some strange 'accounting' reports from TikTok and I wrote bitterly about their zero payments in a post TikTok - King of the Scum? (January 22):

I was delighted (and a little stunned) to see in my CD-Baby Sales Reports that just one of my tracks, the instrumental "Six Degrees North", was getting an extraordinary number (for me) of 'hits' on TikTok --- 33,895 ...


Now, fast forward 4 months, and a handful of tracks, all on TikTokform 95% of the total 560,000 streams/plays:

image.png.f168042172f140f04ce86b0b65d5b2ae.png (the other entries below 1000 not shown)


image.png.8a3dad7224d14428b84cb970b001bd5d.png(the other entries below 1000 not shown)



Again, the reports show zero dollars being paid by TikTok.



HOWEVER, I'm hoping that writers Royalties may kick in after the seemingly obligatory delay of approx 12 months.   An article at https://haulixdaily.com/2021/07/tiktok-royalties-explained conatins the following key message:

... the quantity of videos matters more than the total view count. One hundred videos with no views using a specific sound will generate more money than a single video with one million views. The views don’t matter.

TikTok royalties are based on market shares rather than metric views. To calculate the market shares, TikTok uses what is called “a creation.” A creation is when a user selects a release from TikTok’s library to make a video. Users can then make their own creations inspired by existing creations, all amounting to new creations. So, to put this simply, every time a user decides to use your music to make a video, this generates royalty.

And how much is a video worth? According to estimates online, TikTok royalties were close to $0.0067 per video using your music in 2018 and moved to $0.030 per video in June 2019. Based on these figures, ten thousand uses of this music would generate approximately $300.


I've never been interested in TikTok. For me it seems to epitomise human folly.  It's frustrating that I don't understand how this all works behind the scenes.  I receive no information on the relevant videos contributing to the streams, the video creators, or how on earth they came across my music.


But, hey ho.  If nothing else, and you want to get 'heard' by a few extra people, I can at least offer you my no-frills approach:

  • allow digital distribution to ALL platforms
  • use "PRO" publishing
  • accept that 'popularity' is completely out of your control.  The tracks shown above at the top of the "TikTok" list are NOT what I would have considered my likely 'best of', the top 4 being:
    1. an instrumental
    2. an instrumental
    3. a 5+ minute environmental protest song
    4. a 8+ minutes spoken word drama














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Interesting Greg.


What kind of content are we talking? Did you do anything more than upload it? Can you account for the upsurge?

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As instrumentals, could your music have been used as backing tracks?

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8 hours ago, john said:

1. Did you do anything more than upload it?

2. Can you account for the upsurge?


1. No. Each album involved the bulk-track upload to CD-Baby. The top 2 tracks, instrumentals, are from different albums.


2. No. Not a clue!



Your later question was "as instrumentals, could your music have been used as backing tracks?"

Sure, but TikTok is famous for being a micro-video platform, 60 seconds ... usually much less.  And why would anyone choose to use my music when it is:

  • Long (4+ mins)
  • Unknown (no recognition factor)
  • Not beat based

... especially when there is so much royalty-free mood-specific music easily available.

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Tik tok may be micro videos, but almost the entirety’s of videos use samples of longer songs. All it takes is a play to generate a royalty fee.


It is of course possible that a creator also happens to like your music. It is allowed!


The fact that you are unknown also means it is likely to be unique.


hey, it’s good news anyway. :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Greg


I did a little digging on how you can get more info on the usage of your songs on TikTok.


I published it in member articles for easy access by members.


Analytics: TikTok Track Usage





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On 5/4/2022 at 3:07 PM, TheGarageJump said:

Do you think that it was the 'zero payments' comment that encouraged the activity?

Hi. Can't imagine how or why.
I like to understand things so it makes me extremely frustrated not being able to delve into how the digital music industry actually works.

I think the main problem is that there is no international body with oversight, setting the rules/protocols, and able to audit the processes, like the international banking system. 

This could be a perfect environment for blockchain technology, where every song is tracked.

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22 hours ago, john said:

I did a little digging on how you can get more info on the usage of your songs on TikTok.


I published it in member articles for easy access by members.

Thanks John.

Another bloody account/login, but it'll be interesting to investigate, and I'll report back if I find anything of use :) 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/22/2022 at 10:10 AM, GregB said:

I'll report back if I find anything of use (on TikTok)

There's just more confusion.  TikTok's SOUNDS tab is only available on the mobile app. Using it, one of my mentioned tracks shows just 1000 uses, the others are ZERO. 


Goes to show what little credence can be placed on ANY stats from any source. Are there random number generators involved, bad data, web bots, format conversion errors, indexing errors (my tracks being assigned someone else's data?


It's all smoke and mirrors on top of quicksand.

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I had a thought.


Perhaps your plays were used by someone gaming the system with a bot? Those plays might initially be counted and later deducted. In previous occasion when I have heard of data mismatches and payments not made it has been because of fake plays. Often they are not picked up at the time of playing, only when the plays are analysed later. This results in early high play counts and later massive deductions of loads of plays and payments for plays not being made. Sometimes that gaming is not detected, but the person in question trying to game the system is often up to several tricks.

They need only be caught for a serious enough an infringement and their account will be deleted and as a cheat they can have all plays deemed untrustworthy and payments and plays are discounted.


Did you try to contact your PRO? CD Baby? TikTok? At some $16k+ (iirc) it really needs explained.

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