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I want to use music on TikTok. What do I have to watch out for?

In its “Music Terms of Service​”, TikTok differentiates between non-commercial and commercial videos.  Non-commercial videos are created by natural persons, are exclusively for personal entertainment and are not made for commercial purposes. 

What is deemed as commercial

Commercial videos, however, serve commercial purposes, in other words, not personal purposes. What is meant by this is advertising, marketing, endorsing, publicising or sponsoring of a product, a service or a brand. Examples for this are advertising videos/commercial videos, sales videos, but also how-to-videos, event videos, case study videos and many more.  

Not the account but the purpose is authoritative 

So it is not paramount whether the video is released on a commercial TikTok account but whether it actually serves a commercial purpose. An advertising video will always be an advertising video (and thus commercial), even if it is released on a non-commercial account. Whoever uses music from the Tiktok sound catalogue for private users, is risking written warnings, platform suspension and claims for damages. This is outlined by TikTok in its Intellectual Property Policy. Did you know? Meta (Facebook and Instagram) also differentiates between non-commercial and commercial purposes for music use.

For non-commercial TikToks: the private TikTok music library

If you are using TikTok for personal purposes, you can access the sound library with millions of songs directly in the sounds app and use those TikToks. Please take the following into account:

  • You may only present or share videos with these sounds on TikTok but not on other platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. For the purposes of releasing them on other platforms, a separate authorisation must be acquired directly by the rightsholders. 
  • You may not separately make available, distribute or perform TikTok music in the form of a self-contained audio without an accompanying video.
  • You may not use TikTok sounds in connection with illegal content or by breaching the TikTok Terms of Service including the TikTok Community Guidelines.

Can I directly upload music onto TikTok?

It is possible that you use other songs and sounds for a TikTok. However, if they do not originate in the TikTok music and sounds library, you are responsible to ensure all required rights have been acquired.  These do not only include copyright but also the rights of the performing artists. It may thus be possible that TikTok does not have the rights in the respective recording.

The consequence: If you uploads this recording and cannot prove that you have acquired the exploitation rights, the video will be suspended/taken down. Should this occur repeatedly, it is possible that the entire account is suspended.

For commercial TikToks: the TikTok Commercial Music Library

If you use TikTok commercially, you can use the TikTok Commercial Music Library. The following applies once more: 

  • Videos with commercial TikTok sounds may only be released and shared on TikTok, not on other platforms. 
  • On top of that, songs may only be approved for use in certain countries.

Did you know? The TikTok Commercial Music Library only contains songs by musicians who have granted TikTok the relevant rights. This is why you hardly find well-known songs in the commercial music library.

Using songs for commercial TikToks which cannot be located in the music library

If you want to use a specific song for your video that cannot be found in the TikTok Commercial Music Library, you must acquire a licence from the rightsholders.  More on this on music in videos 

In the case of private, non-commercial users, the synchronisation right on Instagram, YouTube, Tiktok and Facebook is already covered. You do not need to do anything else there.

Additional information on videos with music on TikTok, Instagram & Co

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