BY Wesley Diphoko 3 MINUTE READ

The music industry keeps being overtaken by the tech industry in terms of how people consume music revenue generated. The next in line after Apple, Spotify and others is Tik Tok. The short video platform is gobbling everything including what used to be lunch of established social media platforms.

In India, Brazil, and Indonesia, TikTok operates an app called Resso, which is like a more social music Spotify. Recently a trademark filing for a “TikTok Music” app has also been spotted which is a major sign that we are likely to have a music version of the Tik Tok platform. These filings have also been spotted in the UK, Singapore, New Zealand, Mexico, Malaysia, and Costa Rica.

If Tik Tok will truly launch a music platform anytime soon, we are likely to see some of its success in the video space replicated in music. We’ve seen Tik Tok threatening established social platforms as more audiences spend more time on this short video entertainment platform. We’ve also seen Tik Tok supporting creators of videos with funds aimed at their professional development.

In 2021 Tik Tok announced the Creator Fund to give TikTok’s best performers an opportunity to earn money with their creative talent.

Its plan was to start with $70 million of funds available to thousands of creators across European launch markets; the UK, Germany, Italy, France and Spain. The company saw this as the first step towards providing opportunities on TikTok. In South Africa some creators were also granted funds aimed at improving their creative professional development.

Tik Tok has followed in the footsteps of platforms such as Youtube where content creators have been rewarded with payments, recognition and training.

In 2021 Youtube promised Africans a share of the $100 million fund, which was designed to offer support to black artists and content creators over a three year period, to enable them to promote their work on YouTube. All of these efforts including being paid for content are designed to reward creators for their hard work. The question however still remains as to whether musicians are fairly compensated for their intellectual property. It’s not easy to come to a positive conclusion when one considers the fact that the Apple Apps business is bigger than the recorded global music business. How is that possible? Part of the reason for this economic tragedy is that the music business leaders have ceded control to technology companies. Tech business leaders like the late Steve Jobs came to music business leaders with shiny and innovative distribution solutions. Since musicians could not develop their own platforms they were at mercy of tech leaders. Initially there was a promise of fair compensation however experience of most musicians has proven otherwise. Today we have Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube and other major tech platforms who are generating significant revenues for just serving as a connection between a listener and music producer, musicians and other creators.

Some of these platforms have been responsible for the success of some musicians that we would not know today. Justin Bieber was introduced by YouTube and other musicians got their break via tech music platform. For some musicians tech platforms were a welcome break from some exploitative music producers and agencies.

At a macro level however the picture has been different. The music industry has been left a beggar to the tech industry in terms of revenue. This can change if musicians go back to the negotiation table. At the same time the music industry needs to adopt tech as a weapon by collaborating and developing industry platforms and systems that are owned by the industry.

As Tik Tok prepares to launch a Spotify killer it will promise heaven and earth to the music community. Past experience shows that tech platforms never deliver fair compensations.

Music lovers on the other hand can look forward to another music offering from the popular short entertainment video platform. As for music leaders it’s time to reflect seriously about the future of the industry in a tech driven world. The choice is to build or allow someone else to build for the industry.