Many jingles are also too short to work on TikTok, and already have an association with a specific ad. Songs made by creators don’t always have a clear tie to a brand, making them easier to possibly be more widely adopted. “Traditional jingles on television or even YouTube were interruptions in your viewing experience,” Michael Elenterio, senior strategist at R/GA, wrote in an email. “But TikTok audio flows organically into the average user experience on the 'For You' page causing less dissonance for listeners.”
Brands on TikTok have to think about putting visuals and sound together, in a way that grabs attention before users scroll past. In that case, using an original tune is far more cost-effective and time-saving when considering that most viral audio revolves around 30 seconds of a song.
For brands, navigating audio on social media is similar to political campaigns finding music for ads, according to Larry Iser, managing partner at the law firm Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump and Holley LLP, which focuses on entertainment intellectual property. “You’ll often hear nondescript music in campaigns, because they don’t want the headache of a possible legal fight,” Iser said. “The same is true for TikTok, and brands can save money on licensing fees.”
Licensing an original song is expensive because brands need two licenses: The first is the rights to the composition, known as a synchronization license, and the other is for the original song recording, known as the master use license. This often results in brands resorting to royalty-free instrumental music, or just using voiceovers in videos.
When asked how making an original song impacts music rights, Pizza Hut’s Morgan wrote, “It definitely simplifies the process.”
And there’s also the chance that a brand’s original song could take off.
“I think it's a long-shot effort,” said Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “Certain pieces of music take off and become a common creative element on TikTok. I think brands are aware that if they could tap into that, maybe become the next ‘It’s Corn,’ that would be a huge lift for the brand. Still, those odds are going to be small.”
Original music can also be a way to highlight products in a way that appeals to Gen Z. Volvo recently enlisted Andrew Huang, a partially-deaf YouTuber with over 2 million subscribers, to make a beat using vehicle sounds from the brand's new hybrid vehicle in an effort to appeal to younger consumers. Chevy Canada took a similar approach, working with Canadian creator Tiagz to make a beat using the Chevy EV Bolt. The video received over 2 million views on Chevy Canada’s TikTok and 21 million views on Tiagz’s profile.