TikTok and Tencent Reach Sub-Licensing Deal to Legalize Music Use in Short Videos

According to 36Kr, Douyin, which is known outside of China as Tiktok, reached a music sub-licensing deal with Tencent Music at the end of 2019. Under the deal, multiple music brands and platforms owned by Tencent Music, including KuGou, Kuwo and QQ Music, created official accounts on Tiktok. A source said that the two parties had already started to work together, and Tencent Music’s copyrighted songs will soon be officially relicensed to Tiktok. Neither Tiktok nor Tencent have publicly confirmed their cooperation.

The reported cooperation deal marks an unprecedented agreement between Tencent and ByteDance, the parent company of Tiktok. After the partnership, the use of copyrighted songs on Tiktok will become normalized and legalized. For Tencent Music, Tiktok will become an important channel for content distribution. An insider told 36kr that the cooperation agreement focuses on promoting quality songs and supporting original artists, with Tencent producing content and Tiktok providing distribution.

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Tiktok boasts of the capability to incubate viral content and internet crazes. It enables users to create short videos by lip syncing along with popular songs. However, the platform had long been troubled by license and copyright issues.

In the past, artists would upload their tracks to Tiktok in order to boost their popularity, even though the artists had signed deals to exclusively release their music on major music streaming platforms including Tencent Music. Record companies started to reserve the right to use certain parts of songs for promotion when signing artists, to guarantee the legal use of the artists’ music for promotion on Tiktok, With this music sub-licensing partnership, this practice is going to end.

This is not the first time Tencent Music has partnered with video platforms. Tencent Music launched a cooperation deal with Kuaishou, the second-biggest short video platform in China, earlier in 2019 and a partnership program with video site Bilibili this month.