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How Brands Can Attract New Audiences On TikTok Without UMG — Amp Agency


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UMG, TikTok, and how brands can attract new audiences

When you think of TikTok, what comes to mind first? Is it users lip-syncing to songs, parodies of viral memes, or even an overly-convoluted dance to a 15-second clip? No matter what comes to mind first, chances are that your first thought was something attached to a specific audio. 

What sets TikTok apart from other platforms is its need to be sound forward in a social world where imagery and aesthetics usually take the forefront. Many would argue that TikTok has positively impacted the music industry and artists’ ability to share their music with the world. A 2023 study in the US found that TikTok users are nearly twice as likely to discover and share new music content on social platforms compared to the average user of social platforms.  

However, in February 2024, TikTok users everywhere were shocked when UMG (Universal Music Group) decided to pull all of their artists’ music from the platform. This includes music from the likes of Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, and Drake – artists who had trending songs, dances, and moments throughout TikTok’s rise to popularity. Videos that before had millions of views are now muted and failing to make cohesive sense due to the lack of audio.

Now, we’re left with a question: what does TikTok look like without UMG artists’ music on the platform? Does this level the playing field for brands unable to utilize this music in the first place? 

Brands have been fighting for visibility on TikTok since the app began and are often unable to participate in popular sound trends due to legal issues. Now, without as many trends brands can’t jump on, they can cut through the noise and gain impressions in trending moments. 

Below are our top three ways brands can contribute to trends on the platform without many of these popular songs. 

1. Lean into “meme sounds”

Although music is the main focus of trending videos on TikTok, so are “meme” sounds – including clips from shows, interviews, and viral videos. Incorporating your brand’s personality to mesh with this trending sound style opens up your audience to even more possibilities. 

2. Embrace original audio

Voiceovers, voice filters, and more – TikTok allows many different options for spicing up your original audio content. Utilizing these features not only fits into trends but showcases to the TikTok algorithm your dedication to the platform. A recent study showed that 65% of TikTokers prefer content from brands that include original sound. 

3. Source trends that are not audio-specific 

If using audio intimidates your client, find trends like this one that doesn’t use specific audio, and make it your own!

Even with all the rules, regulations, and legal sound requirements, TikTok has always been a place for fun. The brands that thrive on the app are the ones who aren’t afraid to be a little silly and authentically experiment with all the features the app has to offer. The UMG sound removal changes the platform’s formula but not its message – and brands who take advantage of this shift have a better chance of attracting new audiences.

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