TikTok inks licensing deal with indie music hub Merlin

The deal means a large collection of indie music can be used on the wildly popular short-video app.

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TikTok has entered into an agreement to license indie music from digital rights agency Merlin.

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TikTok, known for its quirky 15-second videos, said Thursday that it's reached a deal with Merlin, the biggest digital rights agency for independent record labels, to license its music collection for the popular short-video app.

Launched in 2007, Merlin's membership consists of more than 20,000 independent record labels and distributors from over 60 countries, including DangerCrue, Dim Mak, Domino, !K7 and Kobalt Music Recordings/AWAL. London-based Merlin estimates that it controls 15% of the global digital recorded music market.

"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 CEO Jeremy Sirota said in a statement. "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."

TikTok is a social media app where users, mostly teens and young adults, post videos of up to 15 seconds long, often synced with music. The app has been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times and is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, currently the most valuable startup in the world

However, the app has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months, with accusations that it poses a threat to user privacy, security and free speech. For instance, a proposed class-action lawsuit filed in California alleges that the app has been illegally and secretly harvesting personally identifiable user data and sending it to China.

Financial terms of the Merlin deal weren't disclosed.