The SAS Speaker Series Presents: How to Use Music on TikTok with Bryan Cosgrove

Published November 27, 2023

In our latest episode of the SAS Speaker Series, we had the opportunity to chat with Bryan Cosgrove, Director of Commercial Music and Creative Licensing at TikTok. As both a TikTok Sound Partner and a fan of the app, it has been such a joy seeing what kind of impact TikTok has had on the music industry. Sitting down with Bryan and learning more about how to use music on TikTok, the power of the Commercial Music Library (CML), and ways for musicians to think outside of the box when creating music for TikTok was such an honor.

The SAS Speaker Series Presents: How to Use Music on TikTok with Bryan Cosgrove

Before we dive in, here's a little backstory about Score a Score's history with TikTok. Our founder and CEO Jordan Passman became very curious about TikTok during the summer of 2019. He didn't know a whole lot about it at the time except for the fact that it was rapidly increasing in popularity. That was also around the time when Jordan learned that Bryan started working at TikTok. For Jordan, this legitimized the platform from a music industry standpoint. As he puts it, "It was the early stages of this Wild West moment where brands and users could use whatever song they wanted. As a result, it was blowing up new music and unearthing songs that hadn't been popular in 30 years."

There was an amazing momentum with early TikTok users and that's when Jordan and Bryan started talking about the CML and the concept of having to tell brands that they could no longer use whatever songs they wanted unless they were going to get a real license. Score a Score was lucky enough to be a part of that initial launch of the CML. We had 1,000 Score a Score songs out of the 4,000 that brands could use at no cost because of our deal with TikTok. That all said, we want to start by thanking Bryan and his team for believing in us to be an early partner.

Cue the Interview!

Jordan Passman: What are you looking for in collaborators and musical partners right now?

Bryan Cosgrove: A deep understanding of the platform is so crucial. It's not necessarily that you have to understand that this is a TikTok sound because there's no one single TikTok sound. It's about comprehending whether or not you are interacting authentically. Our community can really suss out when something doesn't feel genuine. For our partners, I think the ones that have had the most success have really leaned into the idea of being platform experts, being community experts, and staying engaged and authentic. They are reaching out to creators and musicians that they really like and finding inspiration from them. I think that drives a lot of the success for the partners that are flourishing on our platform and that's who we like to work with.

Jordan Passman: If you were to try and predict the future, where do you see all this short-form content heading? Where are people going to be listening to music and where is music discovery on TikTok heading?

Bryan Cosgrove: What's interesting to me is that I think the short-form content as we know it is evolving quite a bit. When I joined the platform it was primarily 15-second videos. Now, they've gotten longer over time. I like to think of those really short clips as meme content. Right now, there's more narrative content coming out plus educational content. People like to consume their content in different ways and that's why the algorithm is so great because you'll be served a lot of the stuff that you really enjoy. As far as music discovery goes, one of the things that I'm really excited about that we just launched within the last few weeks is the discover mode where you can find a song on our platform and then click into that song and save it on your DSP of choice. So if you find a song, you can seamlessly add it to Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon, which is great. We like to consider ourselves a music discovery platform. If you were to scroll through my TikTok feed you'd see a lot of music blogger-type content. For example, "The Top 10 Best Indie Albums of the Year." Having the opportunity to click straight through that and go right into Spotify and start listening to the album is so cool. It's an interesting time for investment in the music industry. There's a lot of great technology out there. Creating that halo effect where everything feels interconnected is really exciting.

Jordan Passman: When creating music specifically for TikTok you don't want to necessarily copy what is trending. Is there any sort of insight you might have on how to think outside of the box and where to find inspiration to do so?

Bryan Cosgrove: I think one of the great things about creator communities is that they are expert collaborators. You will see a creator who's big somewhere on the platform meet a creator who's big in a different vertical and community-build together in the content they create. The music community has a great opportunity to do that as well. If you think about some of the viral songs over the last four plus years, they've been versions of other songs. Whether they are covers or sped-up versions, there are endless iterative opportunities around music. I think one thing you could do as a frequent user of our platform is find some of the users who are doing these remixes and collaborate with them. Get them to work with you on your music. Get them to guest on your music or maybe do a vocal. Borrow a strategy from the creator community and apply it to music and you will see that go a long way.

That's a Wrap on Bryan Cosgrove and How to Use Music on TikTok!

We hope this interview has sparked as much inspiration in you as it has in us! A huge shoutout again to Bryan for taking the time to chat with us. To stay in the loop on our upcoming webinars, subscribe to our newsletters. See you all at the next one!