Weeks after debuting a music streaming service as well as a program ostensibly designed to provide financial support to emerging artists, TikTok has announced and kicked off a “global music competition” for unsigned acts.
Evidently undeterred by threats of a flat-out ban in the United States and elsewhere, the ByteDance subsidiary unveiled its latest music-centered expansion today, via a formal release that was emailed to Digital Music News.
Through 2023’s initial seven or so months, the highly controversial video-sharing app has quietly inked a major pact with Warner Music Group and expanded its New Music hashtag into “a global music discovery hub,” to name just a couple initiatives on the music side. And it’s against this backdrop that TikTok is now looking “to discover new musical talent and support aspiring music creators.”
According to the app’s release about the corresponding “virtual talent show,” dubbed Gimme The Mic, “anyone” age 18 or older can participate by completing the appropriate in-app registration and posting a 30-second (or longer) submission video to TikTok.
While “anyone” (including solo musicians, duos, and bands) is in fact invited to take a stab at the competition, Gimme The Mic’s fine print makes clear that entrants “cannot be signed with any record label or subject to a recording agreement or commitment of any kind,” however.
“If any Contestants are signed with a record label, then they may be removed from the Search by TikTok at TikTok’s sole discretion,” the text drives home. The rules proceed to emphasize that “all Submissions” – not solely the winners – will “become the property of” TikTok, which is developing a music-creation AI.
Building upon the points, though covers are technically eligible under the rules, participants must either own the rights behind performed tracks or have “secured or caused to be secured any and all third party consents, waivers, permissions and licenses required for the use of” the rights “on a royalty-free basis to TikTok.”
Back to Gimme The Mic’s scheduling specifics, artists have until 9 PM PST on August 16th to post (with the contest’s namesake hashtag) the aforesaid brief videos of them performing tracks, according to TikTok. Instrumental works are eligible, but music created via “automated means” is “void,” the official rules show.
After the entry period ends, the top-30 eligible submissions (by like count) from stateside creators – TikTok has also brought Gimme The Mic to different regions – will move on to the semifinals. Expected to take place live on the evenings of September 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, said semifinals will feature participating creators in head-to-head match-ups, which TikTok is poised to determine as it sees fit.
Voting for the best sets will narrow the field to 10 finalists, according to the rules, with each vote cast by TikTok users on the competition page worth 10 points and different showings of support (likes, new followers, and more) worth one point apiece.
Lastly, a finalist live event (with additional performances from the remaining entrants) is scheduled for the evening of September 10th. As if the main competition’s breakneck speed wasn’t enough, the top-five participants will subsequently have the chance to face off against other finalists, from the EU, MENA, and Brazil, in a “global final” on the 22nd and 23rd of September.
Prizes of varying sizes will be provided to the top-five stateside finalists, TikTok indicated, with the first-place artist receiving a trophy and “50,000 Diamonds.” One component of TikTok’s seemingly convoluted digital-currency system, diamonds can according to some reports and the app’s website be cashed out for a bit of actual money. (Of course, viewers will during the multi-round competition presumably direct diamonds to participants as well.)
“The applicable monetary compensation will be calculated by us based on various factors including the number of Diamonds a user has accrued,” reads the relevant section of TikTok’s virtual-item legal page.