TikTok has announced the launch of ‘Elevate,’ its program to uplift emerging artists both through in-app promotion and the sponsorship of in-person events. The inaugural class for Elevate includes artists CHINCHILLA, Sam Barber, Omar Courtz, Isabel LaRosa, Kaliiii, and Lu Kala.
In an exclusive interview with Billboard, TikTok’s North America artist partnerships lead, Rachel Dunham, says the program is designed to “represent artists across diverse genres and backgrounds, signed and unsigned,” she says. “The main intention of this program is really to help artists create sustained careers.”
To do this, the Elevate program will provide its talent with promotion on the @musicontiktok social handles and will host concerts in each of them in their hometowns until the end of the program in October. This year’s class is from is from a range of places, including Canada, Georgia, Maryland, Missouri, Puerto Rico, and the U.K. and TikTok’s artist team will “amplify” their local, in-person activations with Elevate artists “so that the rest of the world can be introduced to them through the lens of their hometowns and their roots,” says Dunham.
The news comes as the social media app continues to expand its reach into the music business. Earlier this month, TikTok launched a “social media streaming service” called TikTok Music in Brazil and Indonesia, replacing previous TikTok-founded streaming service Resso, which was launched in March 2020 in India, Indonesia and later Brazil. The new TikTok Music will be a subscription based service that allows users to synch their existing TikTok accounts in order to listen to, share, and download the tracks they discover on the social media app.
The company is also continuing to build its roster with SoundOn, its music distribution service that is aimed at helping independent emerging artists get music onto all streaming services. The tool was originally launched in Brazil and Indonesia in early 2022 and then in the U.S. and the U.K. shortly after. It was expanded to Australia in February 2023.
According to Dunham, Elevate is “separate from those efforts, but as those efforts continue to build we will absolutely leverage them when possible.”
TikTok joins the likes of YouTube, Spotify, Soundcloud and others in forming a program geared towards amplifying young talent through on-platform promotion, but Dunham highlights a key difference in TikTok’s Elevate: “The level of discoverability that TikTok provides I think is truly unparalleled. That’s a huge credit to our recommendation system as well,” she says. “I think it’s also pretty incredible that unlike other platforms where artists just share content to their fans, on TikTok, the fans are sharing content back and using the artists’ music to soundtrack their lives too. It creates this incredible feedback loop.”
According to the company, more details will be revealed about Elevate as the program continues into the fall.