TikTok has launched a new artist discovery program called “Spotlight” that will give independent artists a direct line to the app’s legion of content-hungry users. The core element of the program will be a dedicated channel for unsigned artists to submit their music, making it available to TikTok users who could then parlay the track in potentially meme-making/spreading short-form videos.
“The launch of [Spotlight] helps TikTok discover hidden talent and cultivate the latest hits, and better enables rising musicians to gain exposure,” the company said in a press release.
Arguably, TikTok’s biggest success story in the artist discovery department has been Lil Nas X, whose “Old Town Road” surged in memes on the social media platform after users began uploading millions of clips of the country-trap song, coupled with the hashtag #oldtownroad. The song made its Hot 100 debut less than a month ago, landing at No. 83, and has climbed steadily to its current perch of No. 15.
Initially, TikTok Spotlight will be workshopped in Japan and South Korea only. Musicians can submit original content through the Spotlight Portal and, once cleared, those songs will be shared with TikTok users for use in videos. Over the next five months, a panel of producers, songwriters and singers will help select the top submissions based partly on the popularity of the songs by app users. Ultimately, the judges will pick the top 5-10 indie artists, who will then receive “production opportunities and other prizes,” the company said.
Industry partners in Japan include Spotify, Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music, among others. In Korea, TikTok is receiving support in the venture by Universal, Warner and C-JES Entertainment, and more.
A spokesperson for TikTok did not immediately respond to questions on expansion plans for the Spotlight program beyond Japan and Korea.