Last week, we asked if TikTok was slowly turning into a record company.
The catalyst for that article, besides the launch of TikTok’s distribution and artist incubator platform SoundOn in March, was a job ad posted by parent company ByteDance for an A&R executive in Jakarta.
According to that ad, one of the responsibilities listed for the role is Finding and signing new music talent.
That got us thinking. With TikTok performing functions for artists like marketing, distribution, discovery and development, is the platform on its way to becoming a record label?
Today brings a new layer to this story: ByteDance and TikTok appear to have gone global in their search for both experienced A&Rs and new artists, with job ads for A&R Managers popping up in London, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo (Brazil).
The first task listed for the LA based role is to “ensure that artists see ByteDance as the #1 partner for artist development, promotion and monetization“.
Also, according to the ad, this person will focus “on the US music landscape”, and will be required to “Identify, sign, and develop new artists across genres”, as well as, “serve as creative and strategic liaison between artists and the platform”.
Furthermore, this person will “supervise the production of records and oversee all aspects of the recording process from writing all the way through delivering final recordings.”
At least five years’ music industry experience was required for this LA-based role.
Over in London, TikTok specifies that the A&R Manager it’s hiring for will support its new TuneCore-powered SoundOn distribution platform.
Within the ad, TikTok describes SoundOn as “an all-in-one platform powered by TikTok, designed to better service music creators through each step of their career — from TikTok integrated promotion tools to universal music distribution, from diverse monetization opportunities to smart music creation”.
Similar to the LA based role, the London-based A&R Manager will need to “identify, sign, manage and develop new artists across genres” and will also require “a data-driven mind and good editorial sense”.
They will also need to have over five years’ A&R experience, specifically at “music labels”, with “success stories of scouting and managing both emerging artists and established artists”.
Other responsibilities listed in the ad include supervising the production of records and overseeing “all aspects of the process that leads up to the delivery of all finished recordings”.
Meanwhile, in the Sau Paulo, Brazil-based A&R Manager ad, ByteDance provides even deeper insight into its plans in music.
In the ad, published on ByteDance’s careers page, ByteDance notes that, “SoundOn & AOP, short for Artists Open Platformis ByteDance’s own music distribution and promotion platform, designed to empower independent artists with tools for audience and career development”.
The ad continues: “SoundOn is currently powered by TikTok (music discovery app) and Resso (music streaming app), with the plan to integrate more ByteDance products in the future, such as Capcut and Helo.
“We are also enabling AOP artists to distribute to off-ByteDance DSPs and video platforms and transforming AOP into an end-to-end music platform.”
Elsewhere at ByteDance, new rumors that TikTok’s parent company is preparing for an IPO in Hong Kong, under the Douyin brand name, have begun circulating.
As noted by the South China Morning Post (SCMP), citing a report by Chinese media outlet Jiemian, there’s been “renewed speculation” that an IPO is imminent after ByteDance renamed its Hong Kong based subsidiary, ByteDance (Hong Kong) Limited, as Douyin Group (Hong Kong) Limited, effective May 6.
Douyin is the wildly popular sister app of TikTok for the Chinese market, where it boasts over 600 million daily active users.
ByteDance was reported to be mulling an IPO in Hong Kong as far back as 2020. The Financial Times reported in August last year that an IPO would arrive in early 2022.
Adding to the speculation about an IPO in the near future is the news that ByteDance recently appointed Julie Gao, formerly of law firm Skadden, as its new Chief Financial Officer.
Gao, a veteran lawyer, has reportedly advised several Chinese tech firms on their own IPO plans.
This most recent news comes six months after ByteDance restructured its company into six business units in November 2021, which includes TikTok and Douyin as standalone divisions.
Citing a senior research analyst at Shanghai-based consultancy Agency China, the FT reported at the time that the reason behind the restructure was to make ByteDance’s business “more intelligible for investors looking at any potential prospectus, making it easier to find cash cows and future growth engines”.
SCMP notes that the structural changes also came as ByteDance “navigates the regulatory demands at home and in the US”.Music Business Worldwide