TikTok to Launch Songwriting Platform for Creators With Simon Cowell, UMG & Samsung

TikTok creators will soon be handed a fresh set of tools to soundtrack their videos and potentially make hit songs when a new in-app platform created by Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment company, in partnership with Universal Music Group and Samsung, launches on the platform later this month.  

Called StemDrop, the initiative will provide TikTok’s more than 1 billion monthly users with access to music “stems” (the isolated components of a song, such as drum tracks or individual vocal parts) from an exclusive new track composed by hit songwriters Max Martin, Savan Kotecha and Ali Payami entitled “Red Lights,” which creators can then use to record and share their own versions.  

The project was conceived by British music mogul Cowell and entertainment executive Tim Van Rongen in partnership with Universal Music imprint Republic Records and Samsung.  

“With tens of thousands of songs uploaded every day this idea will give aspiring artists the opportunity to collaborate with some of the most successful songwriters in the world,” said Cowell in a statement announcing the project.  

Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group, paid tribute to the “incredible team” Cowell has assembled to launch the platform, “harnessing the scale of TikTok, to leverage the artistry of creators worldwide.” 

StemDrop debuts on Oct. 26, when 60 seconds of “Red Lights” will be exclusively released on TikTok, along with individual “stems” from the track which can be accessed through a dedicated micro-site or an in-app StemDrop Mixer, enabling users to play with production effects and create new versions of the song.

A spokesperson for StemDrop tells Billboard that Universal/Republic Records retain ownership of the master recording of “Red Lights”, the publishers own their share and with any future versions, the contribution of any new creator will be added to the royalty split.

It’s not clear if Martin — who co-wrote and produced multiple Billboard Hot 100 No. 1s, including Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time,” Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” – or “Red Lights” co-writers Kotecha and Payami will be involved with the platform beyond its first phase, which is officially titled “’StemDrop’ – A Song for the World.”  

Following its launch, a StemDrop profile on TikTok will share new versions of the track from around the world, curated by the platform, Syco, Republic Records and Universal Music Group. TikTok music curator Ari Elkins, singer-songwriter Astrid S and digital creator Your Boy Moyo will act as global ambassadors for StemDrop and host daily content on the @StemDrop TikTok channel. Syco Entertainment and Republic Records will provide creative direction and drive the StemDrop talent discovery program going forward, according to a press release from TikTok.  

“Every day, brilliant, undiscovered artists and songwriters turn to TikTok to share their music and find a global audience,” said Ole Obermann, Global Head of Music at TikTok. “StemDrop will put a spotlight on this talent and act as a springboard to help them build their careers.” 

Chris Eggertsen