You’re Muted, TikTok’s Vow of Silence And What That Means For Social Media Content Creation

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Content Creation, Media, TikTok

Imagine stepping onto a stage where the spotlight hits you, the audience’s anticipation is palpable, and then… silence. No music to move to, no beat to guide your steps. This is the abrupt reality many of us on TikTok faced recently. 

As someone who’s always believed in the power of music to breathe life into content, having danced my way through life’s ups and downs, the sudden quiet on TikTok feels deafening. My journey from the dance floor to the digital realm of social media has always been underscored by a vibrant soundtrack, just check out my daily Instagram story where I highlight “what I’m dancing to today.” 

What’s the Beef?

If you’re not up to speed, here’s the lowdown: Universal Music Group (UMG), the powerhouse behind megastars like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Drake, has pulled the plug on allowing its music to be used on TikTok. This decision came to light after their licensing deal expired on January 31st, 2024, with UMG citing TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, as being unwilling to “appropriately compensate artists and songwriters, protect human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and address online safety issues for TikTok’s users.”

My Take

The clash stems from UMG’s stance that artists should be fairly compensated for the use of their tracks on the platform. It’s a reasonable request, considering the significant role music plays in content creation and the enjoyment of the app’s users. 

However, TikTok’s perspective is also worth noting. The platform has been instrumental in catapulting artists to stardom, with Sza being a prime example, as well as reviving older tracks, like Miguel’s “Sure Thing,” which climbed the Billboard top 100 a whopping 13 years after its release. This situation underscores the symbiotic relationship between music and social media platforms, where both can thrive together. 

There’s also an added benefit to those independent artists right now on the platform. A member of our team is seeing 2-3 sponsored ads that highlight songs from new artists on TikTok every time she logs in. This may be the perfect storm for those up-and-coming singers and songwriters looking to debut music to get new listeners. 

As a social media strategist and former dancer, now dance teacher, I see both sides of the coin. Artists deserve fair compensation for their work, especially when their music is a key component of viral content and people spending more time on social platforms. Yet, TikTok’s contribution to the music industry, particularly in terms of artist discovery and song resurgence, cannot be overlooked. It’s a complex issue that highlights the evolving dynamics between the music industry and digital platforms.

What People Are Doing in the Meantime

Creators are nothing if not resourceful. Take @csapunch on TikTok, for example, who has ingeniously turned this setback into an opportunity by encouraging followers to engage with their old content in a guessing game format. This not only keeps their audience entertained but also cleverly navigates the current limitations.

Creating Music-Free Content

The current…situation…presents a unique challenge: how to create compelling content without the use of music. Here are a few ideas for short-form videos that can help you maintain engagement and even drive traffic to your website:

  1. Expert Tips and Tricks: Share your expertise in a bite-sized format. For instance, if you’re a fitness guru, a video could be titled “Mistakes You’re Making in Your Workout Routine” with actionable advice. 
  2. Behind-the-Scenes (BTS): Offer a glimpse into your daily operations, whether it’s the making of a product or the running of your business. 
  3. Q&A Sessions: Engage with your audience by answering their most asked questions. 
  4. Challenges and Tutorials: Challenge your audience or teach them something new. For cooking enthusiasts, a quick recipe tutorial can be engaging.
  5. Motivational Talks: Share personal stories or motivational insights to inspire your audience. 

The key to success in this music-less era is creativity. By focusing on content that educates, entertains, or inspires, you can continue to connect with your audience and drive meaningful engagement on your short form video content whether on TikTok or Instagram. Remember, limitations often breed creativity, so use this as an opportunity to explore new content to test and tweak as your move forward!

Need more inspiration and content ideas, we’re the team to help. Check out our Brainstorm in a Snap options if you’re looking to dial in your short for video strategy. 


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