Will TikTok be muted? UMG fails to reach new licensing agreement with platform

Millions of songs by some of the world’s biggest artists are being pulled from Tiktok by Universal Music Group after the two failed to finalise a new licensing agreement that expired on January 31.

That means hugely popular artists like Post Malone, Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish, and Taylor Swift will no longer have licensed songs on it, and users will no longer be able to use their songs.

Universal says TikTok is paying a “fraction” of the royalty price that similar platforms cough up despite its soaring revenue and increasing reliance on music-based content. They say TikTok only makes up around 1% of its total revenue.

“The terms of our relationship with TikTok are set by contract, which expires January 31, 2024. In our contract renewal discussions, we have been pressing them on three critical issues—appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and online safety for TikTok’s users,” they said in an open letter.

The label also accused execs of using bullying and intimidation tactics during negotiations.

TikTok has responded, saying it is sad and disappointed it couldn’t reach a deal with Universal and accusing the label of putting its own greed above the needs of its artists and their fans.

A huge number of songs have found popularity fandom through the popular social media platform, for example Taylor Swift’s Cruel Summer, which has been used in over 2.5 million videos, years after it was released.
More locally, NSW band Ocean Alley has found popularity on the platform for their song “Confidence”. 

TikTok says they have reached ‘artist-first’ agreements with every other label and publisher.

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