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TikTok’s licensing deal with Merlin will give the platform access to a huge indie music selection

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Users now have more music than ever to choose from

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

TikTok has signed a deal with the digital rights agency Merlin that will give the platform access to a huge selection of independent music. Effective immediately, the agreement includes licensed music from tens of thousands of indie record labels worldwide.

TikTok, home to parody videos, memes, lip syncing, and more through clips that last for only a matter of seconds, has steadily grown in popularity over the last few years. Music is a crucial part of the platform, whether it’s setting up a joke or launching a new meme. The platform has even helped launch musicians like Lil Nas X into stardom with breakout songs like “Old Town Road.”

Merlin, one of the top global digital rights agencies for independent labels, licenses music to companies like Spotify, YouTube, and SoundCloud. Its members include labels such as Mad Decent, Better Noise, and AWAL. The agreement with Merlin marks the first time TikTok has announced a major music deal since its explosion in popularity; access to a bigger library gives TikTok a competitive edge against other music platforms. TikTok reportedly is in the process of negotiating new deals with the major labels, which is likely to be far more expensive as it’s evolved.

”This partnership with TikTok is very significant for us,” said Merlin CEO Jeremy Sirota in a prepared statement. “We are seeing a new generation of music services and a new era of music-related consumption, much of it driven by the global demand for independent music. Merlin members are increasingly using TikTok for their marketing campaigns, and today’s partnership ensures that they and their artists can also build new and incremental revenue streams.”