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TikTok owner may have bought Jukedeck, an AI music startup

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

ByteDance, the company behind TikTok, appears to have acquired a startup that develops AI-generated music software. The company, Jukedeck, made a tool that could automatically generate music and then let users adjust the length, tempo, and where it climaxed.

While breakout TikTok videos tend to be based around licensed music — like “Old Town Road” or “Good as Hell” — it’s obvious how a tool like Jukedeck’s could fit in. TikTok’s short-form videos are designed to sync up to music, and customizable tracks could offer more creative control to users trying to find the perfect beat.

It could also help TikTok avoid some big monetary and licensing issues: TikTok has to pay for all that music, so the more royalty-free tracks people are using, the less the app has to worry about record labels. It’d also be good news for creators who want to move their videos off-platform, where they can’t rely on TikTok’s licensing deals to protect their usage of popular songs.

The apparent acquisition of Jukedeck was spotted by Music Ally, which noticed that the company’s CEO, as well as several of its employees, now all list ByteDance as their employer on LinkedIn. Jukedeck’s website is now offline, too, with a message saying “We can’t tell you more just yet, but we’re looking forward to continuing to fuel creativity using musical AI!”

Jukedeck’s CEO now lists his position as director of ByteDance’s AI lab. ByteDance owns more than just TikTok, but given the overlapping interest in music, it’s likely at least some of Jukedeck’s employees are now working on the increasingly popular app.

A spokesperson for ByteDance didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.