Thanks to a perfectly timed new deal, Snap execs must be whistling a happy tune.

Snap announced Monday that it’s testing a new tool that lets users put their snaps to music. The feature comes thanks to new deals with record labels that let Snapchat users license songs in their Snap creations.

The timing of the announcement is eyebrow-raising. TikTok’s deep integration with music is a central part of the app’s DNA as first a lip-syncing video app, and more recently, a viral dance video app. TikTok has dominated the social media landscape in 2020. But now the federal government is threatening that position, as officials claim TikTok’s Chinese ownership presents a national security threat. President Donald Trump has personally said he wants to “ban” TikTok

This potentially presents an opening for other apps, including Snapchat. Snap says that 90% of 13 to 24 year olds are already Snapchat users, which also happens to be the Gen-Z demographic most deeply intertwined with TikTok. Integrating music in Snapchat will enable that demographic to create the dances and music memes right within Snapchat, which could eat away at TikTok’s dominance in that kind of content creation. That’s a valuable thing to offer at a time when the app is vulnerable, and users are wary that their content and communities might not be around for long. 

Snap begins testing the new feature Monday in Australia and New Zealand, and plans to roll it out more widely in the fall. For music licensing, the company has made deals with Warner Music Group, Warner Chappell, Universal Music Publishing Group, NMPA publisher members, and Merlin. 

To start making snaps more groovy, users can swipe up to find music, which they can add before or after they record their snap. Then, when users receive a snap with music, they can swipe up to learn more about the song. They’ll have the option to go listen to the full song on Apple Music, Spotify, or SoundCloud.

It’s surprising Snapchat didn’t already have this capability; Instagram added the ability to put music in Instagram stories in 2018. However, with TikTok’s uncertain future, there’s no time like the very fraught present for Snap.

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