In 30 seconds:
- TikTok Commercial Sounds can help brands create catchy TikTok content without copyright issues. We’re here to tell you what they are and how to use them.
- People see sound on TikTok as “fun” (66% more than other platforms). What are the 4 ways brands can utilise it on the app?
- Don’t make these rookie mistakes. We’ve listed the dos and don’ts of TikTok commercial sounds.
Who doesn’t love a catchy tune? Well-chosen sound is vital for a high-performing video, especially on TikTok. 88% of TikTok users say sound is essential to the TikTok experience, but it’s not always as simple as simply choosing a hit song to soundtrack your content.
How do brands use sound to their advantage without breaching copyright? TikTok Commercial Sounds is one way. The trend-setting app has created this to help businesses use songs and other sounds for promotional material.
If you don’t have a TikTok business profile, you have many audio options, from other creators’ original tracks to pop songs and famous clips. As a business, however, it gets trickier. So how can you use sound safely and effectively to get brilliant ROI? This is the complete guide to answer that question, plus the dos and don’ts of TikTok Commercial Sounds.
But first, let’s get down to business with the elephant in the room: Copyright.
Who owns sounds on TikTok?
Fundamentally, pretty much all the components of a TikTok video are protected by copyright. This doesn’t mean you must put that circular “C” in each caption. Protection is automatic if your content falls under the following categories:
- Original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work
- Original non-literary written work, such as software, web content and databases
- Sound and music recordings
- Film and television recordings
- Layout of published editions of written, dramatic and musical works.
Notice that “sound and music recordings” are included in this list. “But TikTokers use other creators’ music all the time!” we hear you cry. Yes, they do because TikTok allows users of the TikTok app with personal accounts (i.e. non-business accounts) to utilise these.
We had a chat with Fanbytes Director of Operations, Joe Saw, who had some telling insights:
“TikTok has licensing deals with all major record labels or major publishers that let anyone on TikTok use music in a non-commercial way. So when you see someone using a pop song on their TikTok that’s in the TikTok sound library, TikTok has a licence with the labels and the publishers to be able to use that because it’s non-commercial.”
That last sentence is key to understanding why business profiles aren’t allowed to use sounds like other users. TikTok allows non-commercial use because they already hold a licence with the publishers and owners of these sounds to have them on the platform. But as soon as any sound or track gets used for promotional or commercial purposes – like advertising your brand – you need to renegotiate it.
How to fix the “This sound isn’t licensed for commercial use” notification
If you’ve ever had this notification, it’s because you have a TikTok Business account and tried to use a track that’s not in the Commercial library. In May 2020, TikTok stopped business accounts from being able to use mainstream music and songs on the app, although they do still allow brands to access user-uploaded sounds.
Instead, TikTok Commercial sounds are the library of songs available to you.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of commercial sounds on TikTok and want all trending songs available to you, you’ll need to switch back to a personal TikTok account. Of course, this will mean giving up features like paid TikTok ads, most influencer marketing, TikTok analytics and CTAs like driving traffic to your website. For most brands, that’s not an option.
So as a business, you need to think about using sounds differently. According to Joe, there are four main ways to include music in your content as a brand on TikTok:
“Negotiate with right sellers, use copyright-free music, make a custom sound – or go without.”
Let’s break that down.
1. Negotiate with the right sellers
This is where brands get in touch directly with publishers and owners of popular music/ sounds to gain access to their material for a given price. This can take time (unless you’re working with us, as our music team talks to publishers daily). Getting the rights to the original sound before the trend dies out is critical, which is why those contacts are vital. If you lack the capability to have these conversations fast, this is not the best option for you.
2. Use Copyright-free music
This is where TikTok Commercial Sounds come into it. Using copyright-free music will mean you’re in no danger of copyright infringement. There are other free royalty-free libraries throughout the web, but this in-app option is always safer. Plus, because these sounds are already in TikTok, they’re more likely to trend within the app, helping you to benefit from a boost from the TikTok algorithm. More on commercial sounds later.
3. Make a custom sound
Creating your own sound is a safe option but won’t allow you to jump on memes and trends growing on the TikTok algorithm.
4. Go without
You don’t have to use sounds. If you opt out, you won’t have copyright issues, but it can be challenging to drum up the same level of engagement.
For many brands, the best option is to utilise copyright-free music for their promotional content. That’s where the TikTok Commercial Sounds Library comes into it.
What are Commercial Sounds on TikTok?
According to TikTok themselves, the TikTok Commercial Music Library is “a pool of over 150,000 pre-cleared, royalty-free tracks sourced from emerging artists and top-tier music houses.”
Basically, any track within the TikTok Commercial Music Library is free for brands to use on the app without fear of breaching copyright. It’s for any account that uses TikTok for marketing, advertising, sponsorships, endorsements or publicity, including official brand accounts, their promotional partners, NGOs and government organisations.
This also applies to influencers collaborating with brands on promotional campaigns. Although creators can use any sound or popular song for their own content, they can’t do so if their video is for commercial purposes, like brand partnerships. So, keep this in mind when you partner with influencers on TikTok.
How to use Commercial Sounds on TikTok
You need to have a business account on TikTok before you can access their free library. Once you have a business account, there are two ways of accessing commercial sounds on TikTok.
- You can add this music at the end if you’re uploading a pre-recorded video. Simply tap “add music” and choose from the library.
- If you are recording the content in-app, you can add the music beforehand, choosing something to which you could fit the video.
NB, TikTok categorises the library into playlists and categories to make finding the right music easier.
TikTok Commercial Sounds: Dos and Don’ts
When you start utilising commercial sounds on TikTok, it’s essential to know what you’re doing. We have a few expert dos and don’ts to help your brand win at TikTok sounds.
TikTok Commercial Sounds - Dos
1. Do use the “TikTop” playlist
This playlist on the commercial sounds library is full of royalty-free music that’s already trending. Start here to find engaging sounds for your content.
2. Do stay true to your brand
Just because you hear a sound that worked for another business doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for yours. Make sure you always stay on brand, and your fans will keep returning for more.
3. Do collaborate with influencers using the commercial library
Fanbytes’ Joe explains, “Influencers can use any music for non-commercial content, but branded influencer content counts as commercial content.” If you partner with influencers for your marketing campaign, ensure they are using TikTok‘s own commercial music library for any backing music. You do not want to get into legal issues because your chosen creator insisted on soundtracking their video with the newest Harry Styles single.
TikTok Commercial Sounds - Don’ts
1. Don’t use the TikTok Commercial Library on other channels
There’s a reason “TikTok” is at the front of that name. The social media platform has negotiated licensing agreements with the publishers and owners of every song in their library, so what is free to use on TikTok may not be ok to use on Instagram.
2. Don’t rerecord TikTok Commercial sounds
A great sound may tempt you to record your video content for other purposes. Perhaps you want to upload it to your website or put it on another public platform. This could breach copyright laws without you knowing, so make sure you aren’t recording anything you shouldn’t be.
3. Don’t underestimate the power of sound in ads
When you do a paid promotion through TikTok, you can apply to use one of the sounds from the commercial music library. This process is only for reservation campaigns such as TopView, Hashtag Challenges, and Branded Effects. TikTok runs through how to do that here.
On TikTok, business accounts with their sound on did 2.2x better at increasing brand awareness than competitors with their sound turned off. So take the leap and use music and sounds within your advertising (just ensure you have permission to do so).
We’re on the same wavelength
So that’s TikTok commercial sounds explained. What’s your next step? You want to maximise your ROI, produce killer marketing campaigns and deliver on targets. That’s where we can help.
Need some expertise in all things TikTok sound? We have a brilliant music team consistently in touch with the right publishers and artists to get brand content jamming. Alternatively, we’ll talk you through how to use the TikTok Commercial Sound library like a pro for your campaign, so that your video captures everyone’s attention for all the right reasons. Get in touch to find out how we can help you make the best sounding TikTok campaign yet.
Looking for some more advice? That’s music to our ears. Take a look at the articles below for killer tips on how to nail sound in your campaigns.