With nearly every TikTok video containing music, often contemporary popular songs you’d stream or hear on the radio, you might easily believe that there is some form of a musical free-for-all on the platform. So how can TikTok’s young creators get away with using songs from popular recording artists without threats of massive copyright suits? And if they can use these tunes in their videos, can you include them in your TikTok ads? TikTok’s Royalty-Free Music Library may be the solution to your concerns.
It turns out that music on TikTok is a relatively complex issue. And no, it’s not a musical free-for-all. But the platform does provide a solution for brands wanting to use commercial music in their videos, in the form of TikTok’s royalty-free music library, an online database of free-to-use TikTok commercial music.
TikTok’s Most Popular Music
RouteNote has collated the most used TikTok tracks in the US as of February 2022. They base their list on the number of videos people have created with each track in the US. The five most popular songs are:
- Oh No – Kreepa (8.35 million videos)
- Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod (8.07 million videos)
- No Idea – Don Toliver (7.68 million videos)
- Steven Universe – L.Dre (5.64 million videos)
- SpongeBob Tomfoolery – Dante9k Remix – Dante9k (5.64 million videos)
When mum cooks 😂
Interestingly, these aren’t the most famous tracks everyday users can use on (non-commercial) TikTok videos. But they have gained the attention of TikTok creators, and once they became popular on the social platform, their usage snowballed.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a compelling soundtrack to your TikTok videos and ads. According to Kantar research, people experience sound on TikTok as “fun”. In addition, 73% of respondents said they would “stop and look” at ads on TikTok with audio, significantly higher than users of any other platform. Interestingly, 88% of TikTok users said sound is essential to the TikTok experience.
Music Licensing on TikTok
Despite music being such an essential part of the TikTok experience, there are complex rules governing its use. TikTok signed agreements with most major music publishers in its early days. Until 2020, they were relatively relaxed about brands using clips from songs for commercial purposes on the platform. Clearly, they believed their existing agreements covered this. But then TikTok quietly changed the rules. Brands could no longer use popular tracks. Instead, they had to go to TikTok’s royalty-free music library, a new commercial music library available for businesses.
At the time, TikTok wrote:
The Commercial Music Library provides a rich and diverse pool of royalty-free music for your use in your commercial content. With this native function, you can enjoy unlimited worldwide use for your content within the TikTok ecosystem with access to high-quality, free-to-use music. This will also save you time and investment in sorting out music licensing, and in turn allows you to focus on creating unique and joyful content for your audiences.
Since May 2020, TikTok has applied the rule, and business accounts can no longer use mainstream music. When a business account user comes across videos on TikTok featuring mainstream music, even in the background of clips, TikTok presents them with an information message saying, “This sound isn’t licensed for commercial use”. Then, when they upload a video, TikTok offers them an option to Run a Copyright Check. According to the accompanying explanation:
We’ll check your video for potential copyright infringements on used sounds. If infringements are found, you can edit the video before posting.
On its Commercial Sounds page, TikTok stresses that:
If you use our General Music Library through a personal account to promote your business, you are at risk of copyright infringement. Songs in our General Music Library are not pre-cleared for commercial content — defined as any content posted by a brand — and are not available for use by any brand or business.
TikTok’s Royalty-Free Music Library
While you may no longer be free to use commercial music on TikTok unless you have signed usage rights with the relevant music company, you still have a considerable quantity of pre-cleared music you can use for organic content and ad creation. And thanks to TikTok’s Royalty-Free Music Library (aka TikTok Commercial Music Library), you can search for music in multiple ways, including usable placement, theme, genre, mood, and duration. In addition, if you select your region, you can even view Recommended Playlists and Top Music for your area.
All songs in the Commercial Music Library are pre-cleared for commercial use, so you know you can use them in your TikTok ads and posts without any concerns about obtaining copyright licenses.
You might not find the latest chart-topping songs from Spotify in TikTok’s Royalty Free Music Library, but you will find more than 600,000 tracks that you can use. Much of the music comes from Anthem’s production company, 5 Alarm Music. You can only view 10,000 songs at a time, but you can still access the rest of the tracks through TikTok’s search and filter functions.
How to Find TikTok’s Royalty-Free Music Library
There are several ways you can discover the TikTok commercial music library. One way is to go to the TikTok Creative Centre and click on the Audio Library button in the top menu. Make sure to select your country in the box near the top of the screen. Although most countries appear in alphabetical order, you will find some, including the United Kingdom, show out of logical sequence.
You can view the copyright-free TikTok commercial music in two ways. The default way (All Music) shows you 10,000 songs over 500 pages. You can mix and match various filters to find musical clips that interest you and meet your requirements. Alternatively, you can select Playlist. TikTok shows you a selection they call TikTok Viral at the top of the page. Further down the page, they offer a range of playlists of various types.
You can then click on any playlist that interests you. TikTok takes you to a screen with music tracks related to the playlist topic. So, for example, if your brand wants to create a TikTok ad in the fashion niche, you might click on the Fashion playlist to find tracks that TikTok believes could work with your ad.
While most TikTok Commercial Music library tracks are licensed for global use, some are country-specific. Also, remember that these music rights only apply to business account usage on TikTok, not any other social networks. You can’t reuse your TikTok ad on YouTube or Facebook and expect it to clear for copyright there. You are still free to use originally produced music in your videos, although you are responsible for making any relevant copyright, usage, or licensing arrangements.
Accessing The Creative Centre’s Audio Library (TikTok’s Royalty-Free Music Library) in Your TikTok App
Although you can easily access TikTok’s Creative Centre and its Audio Library button on a desktop browser, you can also find this music in the TikTok app on your mobile device. You will need to be logged into a TikTok business account to do this.
- Tap the + sign at the bottom of your app screen
- Then tap the 🎵 Add sound button at the top of your screen
- This takes you to the Commercial Sounds page, where all songs have commercial usage rights
Music in Reservation Campaigns
Although you are free to use music from the TikTok Audio Library in ads that use TikTok’s self-serve platform, TikTok Ads Manager, you need to fill out an application form to use the music in what TikTok terms “Reservation Campaigns”. These are those ad types where you need to reserve advertising spots through TikTok. These include TopView, Hashtag Challenges, and Branded Effects ads. As soon as you’ve placed your order, you can select a track. Then, TikTok checks whether the track you’ve requested meets your campaign’s requirements and if other campaigns currently use it.
House of Marketers Can Ensure That You Don’t Breach Any Copyright Laws in Your Campaign
If you’re wanting to run TikTok ad campaigns, House of Marketing offers a success-driven TikTok ads service. We can fully manage your TikTok ads services, doing everything from bespoke content creation to regular ads management. Rest assured, we will only use soundtracks to your ads from TikTok’s royalty-free music library, or custom music of your choice. You have no fear of TikTok ever taking down your ads because of copyright infringement.
House of Marketers (HOM) is a leading TikTok Marketing Agency. Our global agency was built by early TikTok Employees & TikTok Partners, which gives us the insider knowledge to help leading brands, like Redbull, Playtika, Badoo, and HelloFresh win on TikTok. Want us to convert more of Gen Z and Millennials with TikTok? Get in touch with our friendly team, here.