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Why Investing in Music & Sound on TikTok is Key

by Ilaria Mangiardi: We announced it a few weeks ago: MassiveMusic is now an official Sound Partner for brands on TikTok. Makes total sense to us (humblebrag). After all, music is the soundtrack to every single story on TikTok.

The mission we have? Helping you navigate the fast-paced universe of the TikToksphere – whether it’s developing audio-first creative concepts, creating tailor-made music & sound that elevate TikTok ads, challenges and branded effects, or licensing tracks.

The mission you have? Leveraging and building equity across another consumer interaction and touchpoint – with our help. This way you’re able to connect all the dots and stay top of mind with your audience. For this insightful interview, we sat down with Joe Belliotti, CEO of MassiveMusic North America, and asked him to spill all the beans on how you, as a brand, can make a difference on the app that is on everyone’s lips (and phone).

So Joe, what are your top tips for brands in being effective with music & sound on TikTok?

Firstly, it’s important to think about what you would like to achieve as a brand and what kind of value you want to provide to your audience. TikTok provides so many options on how you can use music & sound to attract attention, so it’s important to develop your brand’s unique approach. For example, if a sonic logo is part of your marketing mix, look at utilizing and extending it to build real sonic equity on the platform. Or create new branded songs that embody your brand’s message. Another idea that we’ve seen work so well on TikTok is to surface a classic track that otherwise may have been forgotten. The important thing is to be consistent and build on the equity you create each time you use music & sound. Research has proven that sonic cues are one of the most effective distinctive assets for gaining branded attention.

Why is music & sound a good investment for brands on TikTok?

Now, I might be a little biased in this sense because I see music & sound as a huge competitive advantage for brands on all platforms. But, what differentiates TikTok from other social media, and why marketers should be thinking about it differently, is that it’s a sound-on platform experience; you don’t use it with your sound off. And sound on means full attention from the user. You can’t check TikTok and do something else at the same time. That’s gold for brands! When you use Instagram, for example, you normally don’t activate your audio unless you’re watching Stories or Reels; you then opt-in to hear the content. With TikTok, however, it’s constantly on and integral to the user experience. That’s why it’s important brands create a strategic approach to music & sound on TikTok because the opportunities for a brand to be continually heard are much greater.

How do brands make the most of their sonic identities on TikTok?

Because of the quick nature of how people experience content on TikTok, brands need to be creative and strategic on how and where they weave in a sonic identity. In traditional advertising, it’s very common to hear a sonic brand or logo at the end, but with digital formats such as TikTok, you can be far more experimental. Sonic assets can be used more strategically – for example, you could play a sonic brand at the start or even in the middle of a piece of content to augment the narrative and bring attention to the brand at a key moment. This pulls users into a brand story without the risk of waiting until the end when they’ve already scrolled to the next account.

How can music help brands feel relevant to users on TikTok?

TikTok is incredibly unique in the sense that music genres and decades don’t seem to exist. How else do you explain my 10 year-old knowing and enjoying ‘Everywhere’ by Fleetwood Mac, or ‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell? To him, and many like him, he’s discovering new music despite it being decades old. This opens up a lot of more opportunities for brands to find music that aligns with their point of view, no matter the year it was released or the style. It’s a very exciting development for the music industry because it’s quite common to now find TikTok-trending songs in the Spotify charts, so record labels are using TikTok data to become more informed on what’s becoming culturally relevant and to know what artists to sign.

How can MassiveMusic, as a TikTok Sound Partner, help brands navigate this space?

Day-in and day-out, our teams at MassiveMusic help develop sonic brand identities and sonic assets for some of the world’s biggest companies, from Philips to Colgate. As part of that, we now love helping brands come to life on TikTok through music & sound. We do this by first helping them develop a unique strategy. Then we either create bespoke music, from instrumentals to custom songs with the brand name and message, or we find new releases by emerging and established artists to help create cross-promotional partnerships. We have the capability to search and license any song, from classic catalog to the most current hits, and we can also provide pre-cleared curated music for brands producing a high volume of content with a need for low-cost music. Everything we do roots back to a unique brand strategy designed to build further brand equity using the power of sound. The multi-skilled teams across our global offices understand how to best leverage music & sound on TikTok and, as an official TikTok Sound Partner we continue to have access to the platform’s unique insights and developments in music innovation.

How do brands license music for TikTok?

Traditionally, brands have always encountered complexities in navigating different music rights which is why they use us to help avoid legality issues and untangle the tricky process. TikTok is no exception – some brands are struggling to understand it because it’s such a new type of usage. How is the music used? When will it be used? How long will it be used for? How long will it be heard? Who is using it? What version are they using? What channel will it be heard on? As a company that lives and breathes this space, we can help any brand understand what they need to do to implement a winning music & sound strategy, without landing in hot water or spending hours trying to find the right answer.

What works better on TikTok: bespoke music or licensed tracks?

Actually, there is value in both. It really depends on your brand’s strategy and story. Sometimes licensing a song can help you borrow its equity with your desired audience. If you want to evoke the era of classic hip-hop, you look to Grandmaster Flash or Run DMC. Or, if you want to lean into a current music moment, such as a new release by an artist, you can use that song in your content to evoke instant recognition and a feeling of ‘now’ and ‘new’ – as well as it becoming another way for fans to discover the music. If you’re looking to shape the music around your specific narrative, then having the ability to create something bespoke is very useful and you don’t run the risk of it being associated with another brand in the way you do with a licensed track.

What can brands expect from working with us?

At MassiveMusic, we pride ourselves in making working in music fun for our client-partners. You don’t have to be a musician or have deep insights into music culture – because we have that covered! We also know that driving your business forward is critical and when you invest in different marketing assets they must work. This is why we are very serious about proving the effectiveness of the music & sound we develop and showing a clear return on investment.


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