Last year, in an interview with MBW, TikTok’s Global Head of Music Ole Obermann discussed plans for e-commerce features for artists within its app.
He noted that TikTok “recently did a few tests in the US where we worked with big-name artists to enable them to sell physical products off of their TikTok accounts”.
Obermann cited artists including Lizzo and Billie Eilish as being involved in those tests, telling MBW at the time that, “the numbers were massive” adding: “It blew us away”.
An article published by the Financial Times today (July 5) left major questions hanging over the future of those e-commerce plans for artists on the platform.
The FT reported that TikTok has scrapped the expansion of its TikTok Shop feature into Europe and the US.
Launched in the UK in December 2021, TikTok Shop lets creators sell products directly on TikTok through in-feed videos and live streams.
The UK was TikTok Shop’s first market outside Asia. TikTok officially announced today (July 5) that its ‘Shop’ tool has been launched in Malaysia, with the FT noting that it also recently went live in Vietnam and Thailand. It was launched in Indonesia last year.
According to the FT, the launch in the UK “was hit by internal problems and struggled to gain traction with consumers”.
As a result, reports the FT, a planned expansion into the US “later in 2022”, and into the European markets of France, Germany, Italy, and Spain in the first half of this year, has been shelved.
An anonymous TikTok employee is cited by the FT as saying that, “The market just isn’t there yet,” and that, “general consumer awareness and adoption are still low and nascent”.
The FT’s article claims further that “many TikTok Shop livestreams have achieved poor sales despite the company offering subsidies and cash incentives to encourage brands and influencers to sell through the app”.
MBW reached out to TikTok to clarify whether the claims reported by the FT will have any impact on TikTok’s music-related e-commerce plans outlined by TikTok’s Global Head of Music Ole Obermann while speaking with MBW last year.
In a statement provided to MBW, a TikTok spokesperson said: “The article refers to TikTok Shop, a specific product available in certain markets including the UK, which is a different part of TikTok’s e-commerce offering than Ole previously referred to”.
“The article refers to TikTok Shop, a specific product available in certain markets including the UK, which is a different part of TikTok’s e-commerce offering than Ole previously referred to.”
TikTok spokesperson, speaking to MBW
In an article published by Campaign today, TikTok is reported to have disputed the FT’s claim that it planned to expand into a handful of European markets in the first half of 2022.
The Campaign piece cites a TikTok spokesperson as stating that the platform’s “focus was on the UK, after recently launching in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Vietnam, and last year in Indonesia”.
A TikTok spokesperson told Campaign: “We are always looking at ways to enhance our community’s experience and regularly test new features that inspire creativity, bring joy and innovate the TikTok experience in markets around the world.
“Brands on TikTok have found a creative outlet to authentically connect with audiences, and we’re excited to experiment with new commerce opportunities that enable our community to discover and engage with what they love.”
“WE RECENTLY DID A FEW TESTS IN THE US WHERE WE WORKED WITH BIG-NAME ARTISTS TO ENABLE THEM TO SELL PHYSICAL PRODUCTS OFF OF THEIR TIKTOK ACCOUNTS. THE NUMBERS WERE MASSIVE.”
Ole Obermann, speaking to MBW in 2021
Speaking with MBW in 2021, Obermann said: “We’re now talking about a much broader definition of ‘a musician’. A musician makes music, and hopefully they can make a great living by getting people to consume their music, by touring and performing that music live, by selling merch etc.
“But on TikTok, those musicians can also become creators in a broader sense, and really use the video medium. Then you’re talking to a very large audience, and you can sell them things [via your TikTok channel]. I really think we’re just scratching the surface of where that is all going to go.
Added Obermann: “I’m excited by the e-commerce opportunities on TikTok for artists selling to fans.
“We recently did a few tests in the US where we worked with big-name artists to enable them to sell physical products off of their TikTok accounts. Those artists included Lizzo and Billie Eilish, and the numbers were massive. It blew us away.
“The other side of it is that TikTok creators who aren’t musical creators themselves, are using music. Musicians get paid off of the back of that, and it can become a healthy revenue stream. It helps break songs and artists, consumption goes up on the other platforms, more tickets are sold, a bigger live-streaming event can happen etc.
“So you’ve got two sides coming together. And it massively expands the pie.”Music Business Worldwide