Royalty-Free Music & Music Licensing
July 14, 2021

How to Get the Best TikTok Music for Your Videos

By Jonathan Mateer 7 min read

Highlights

  • TikTok trends are very often based on music, and often include lip-synching, dancing, and acting while popular songs play
  • Pay attention to licensing for your social media videos, because you don’t want to risk them being removed
  • Browse thousands of TikTok-ready songs on Artlist and use royalty-free music to avoid copyright infringement

TikTok is the wildly popular video app that has taken over the world. With its short-form content shared by approximately 689 million users, TikTok has graduated from being just the obsession of Gen Z’ers to being enormously popular with Millennials and brands now too. So, it makes sense that TikTok content creators are both sourcing and sharing music via the platform. In this article, we will show you how to get the best TikTok music for your videos.

But is TikTok music copyright-free? We will answer that vital question along with how to find music on TikTok, how to add your music to TikTok videos, and how to get your songs on TikTok.

TikTok music

Music is a vital part of TikTok videos, and if you’ve used the app even once, you’ll see how virality is built into the platform. TikTok trends are very often based on music and often include lip-synching, dancing and acting while popular songs play. TikTok allows users to choose songs cleared for commercial use. TikTok pays royalties on the sounds and songs, so you can find even popular songs by commercial artists there.

How to add music to your TikTok video

When you tap the ‘Add a Sound’ button on the right side of the recording screen. You’ll see a streaming menu of music there, much like Spotify. You can scroll through TikTok’s most popular tracks or even browse Apple Music. 

On this same menu, you can find the tracks associated with TikTok #Challenges. Challenges spur on the TikTok community and are sometimes sponsored by brands. To see all of TikTok’s current challenges, including TikTok dance songs, tap the magnifying glass at the bottom of the home screen. At the top of this same menu, there’s a search bar, which can be used to search for specific creators, sounds, or hashtags.

screens where you add tiktok music

Note that 48% of U.S. adults between 18-29-years-old use TikTok, so consider that demographic when adding music. TikTok songs of 2021 reflect this data.

How to add your own music to TikTok videos

Note that these songs aren’t full-length, but there’s a workaround. Many creators play the song they want to use from another source while recording. TikTok registers this as an “Original Sound,” which is actually misleading. So what can you do if you want to avoid copyright infringement? We will answer that next.

Is TikTok music copyright-free?

The short answer: no. But because TikTok is used by all kinds of creators, from teens in their bedrooms to multi-billion-dollar corporate brands, usage and user matters most. 

The official message from TikTok is this:

We do not allow any content that infringes copyright. The use of copyrighted content of others without proper authorization or legally valid reason may lead to a violation of TikTok's policies.

At the same time, not all unauthorized uses of copyrighted content constitute an infringement. In many countries, exceptions to copyright infringement allow the use of copyrighted works under certain circumstances without authorization. These include the fair use doctrine in the United States and permitted acts of fair dealing in the European Union (and other equivalent exceptions under applicable local laws in other countries).

So, while the app started enforcing strict limits on music used by brands, individual users can still select from a massive list of popular songs. However, brands only have access to a limited catalog of songs that are licensed for commercial use and include royalty-free tracks. TikTok classifies brands as "verified businesses and organizations," and these entities cannot use many of the mainstream songs and popular tracks that are often used for dance challenges and viral trends on the app. Brands wanting to use this music must obtain licenses granting them commercial use, similar to how YouTube and Instagram operate. As always, pay attention to licensing for your social media videos because you don’t want to risk them being removed, or worse—a fine. Then there is the potential for account termination for repeat offenders. 

If you want to play it safe, source royalty-free music for your TikTok videos.

Finding royalty-free music for TikTok videos

It’s no secret that Artlist has thousands of songs for selection in your social media videos, including many that are perfect for TikTok. The curated collection is full of hook-filled songs. Be sure to read our best practices guide for creating the best-looking TikTok videos as well.

Need inspiration? Browse annual best-of lists to generate ideas for your next TikTok video, including the most popular TikTok songs, famous TikTok songs, and TikTok dance songs.

How to get your music on TikTok

You can’t just upload any song from your hard drive to the app to make it TikTok music. You’ll need to officially add it to TikTok’s library with digital distribution, where you can manage rights and guarantee you'll get credit for the streams.

There are many distribution services, so do research to choose the best one.

Next, create a release with your distribution plan. Then, add all the details for how your music will appear on the app. You’ll need to submit detailed info, quality album art and the correct publishing info. Finally, you’ll add metadata, which is what links your tracks once they’re published and ensures you get paid.

Final thoughts

The TikTok app has been downloaded 2 billion times—that’s more than a quarter of the world’s population! So get in on the mania by effectively using popular TikTok songs in your videos and potentially having a viral hit on your hands. And if you’re a musician or a band, take the time to find the right distribution and plan and launch a release of your tracks.

 

About Jonathan

Jonathan Mateer is a writer based in California. Currently attending UC Berkeley, he covers topics such as filmmaking, storytelling, politics and culture.

 

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