Universal Music Group is poised to withdraw its extensive catalog of millions of songs from TikTok following a breakdown in negotiations over payment terms.
The decision would entail the removal of songs by high-profile artists such as Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, and Drake from the popular social media platform.
Universal accused TikTok of engaging in “bullying” tactics and expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed payment rates, which it deemed significantly lower than those offered by other social media platforms for access to its vast music library.
TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, rebuffed Universal’s allegations, dismissing them as a “false narrative and rhetoric.”
Music companies like Universal earn royalties when their songs are streamed on various platforms, including social media networks.
Despite TikTok’s substantial user base of over one billion individuals, Universal stated that the platform contributes merely 1% of its overall revenue.
In an open letter addressed to the artist and songwriter community, Universal emphasised its commitment to securing “appropriate compensation” for its artists and songwriters, as well as ensuring protection against the adverse effects of AI and online safety for TikTok users.
Universal declared its intention to cease licensing its content to TikTok upon the expiration of their contract on 31January.
Responding to Universal’s decision, TikTok lamented the move, attributing it to Universal’s prioritisation of “greed” over the welfare of its artists and songwriters. TikTok underscored its role as a valuable promotional and discovery platform for talent, boasting a massive user base.
This marks the first instance of Universal Music Group withdrawing its songs from a technology company’s platform, signalling the gravity of the dispute.
Universal Music Group holds a dominant position in the global recorded music industry, representing a diverse array of artists ranging from legendary acts like the Beatles and Elton John to contemporary sensations like Adele, BTS, and Blackpink.
Furthermore, Universal owns the rights to songs such as Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s “Murder on the Dancefloor,” which have enjoyed viral success on TikTok.
Last year, TikTok struck a new licensing agreement with Warner Music, the world’s third-largest recorded music company, in July.
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