Taylor Swift, TikTok Unveil Full Promo Campaign For New Album

TikTok announced “the ultimate Taylor Swift in-app experience” on Friday (April 19), a way to “connect Swifties with exclusive and first-of-its-kind features.”


TikTok is certainly not the only platform to join with Swift in her promoting her new release, The Tortured Poets Department. Many iHeartRadio stations played the whole album the moment it came out (plus a song from it at the top of every hour), for example, while Spotify launched a three-day “library-themed art installation” to celebrate the album in Los Angeles.

What’s different about TikTok’s announcement: The platform is embroiled in an ongoing licensing dispute with Universal Music Group, Swift’s distribution partner. Because the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement, official recordings from UMG’s artists have (mostly) been removed from TikTok. Swift’s music was absent for a time, but a large chunk of it reappeared on the platform last week.

Now, not only is the superstar able to circumvent UMG’s TikTok embargo, she is also getting additional promotional help from the platform. “With multiple first-of-its-kind features, fans can dive into the album with playlists to create with, as well as challenges to unlock exclusive artwork for their profiles, and the opportunity to be featured in a Fan Spotlight carousel,” TikTok’s announcement notes.

This is all but guaranteed to make some UMG artists — those who have developed devoted TikTok followings, or had success marketing music on the platform in the past — jealous. “TikTok is mostly used as a new-music discovery tool — discover a clip on TikTok, listen to it on a DSP,” a music lawyer told Billboard last week. “So those who are trying to get their music discovered are the most concerned” about being unable to promote new songs on the app.


Due to that concern, some artists with viral hits are trying to come up with workarounds to allow their songs to remain on TikTok.

Swift’s TikTok partnership, despite the UMG ban, was a display of her power in the music business, as an artist who moves as many units in a year as some entire label divisions. There had been significant speculation about what her return to the service meant — whether it implied a carve out in her contract allowing her to do a direct deal with the social platform, or whether her original contract had always contained such a provision. With today’s news, some of the parameters of that agreement have come more into focus, in terms of the promotion and marketing push that TikTok is providing for the new album.

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