Home TikTok may lose Universal Music Group song catalog

TikTok may lose Universal Music Group song catalog

Universal Music Group has warned it will pull its music from TikTok upon the expiry of the current deal which licenses content to the popular social media platform.

A dispute has emerged between the two companies with the Chinese-owned video hosting service responding with claims Universal is prioritizing greed ahead of the interests of artists and songwriters.

The multinational music production company released a statement detailing how it has failed to agree to fresh terms with TikTok, amid claims of pressure being applied on them, with the existing arrangement due to expire on 31 January.

“The companies have not agreed to terms for a new agreement and upon expiration of the current agreement, Universal Music Group (UMG), including Universal Music Publishing Group, will cease licensing content to TikTok and TikTok Music services,” it read.

That followed a communication titled “Why We Must Call Time Out on TikTok”, in which UMG outlined its concerns and the lack of progress in their dialogue.

Describing TikTok as “an increasingly influential platform with powerful technology and a massive worldwide user base”, UMG explained how it retains concerns after “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.”

The statement went on to address remuneration and how TikTok “proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay,” further highlighting the current impasse.

“Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music”, added the statement from the powerful, leading music label that boasts an array of performers including Taylor Swift, Sting, Alicia Keys, Drake, Billie Eilish, Harry Styles, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Adele, U2, Elton John, Coldplay, and many more.

Narrative and rhetoric

The counter-claim from TikTok, a subsidiary of Chinese internet giant ByteDance, stressed it had been able to reach “artist first” agreements with all other major publishers.

Their statement fired a shot at Universal accusing them of acting in their own interests:

“It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.”

“Despite Universal’s false narrative and rhetoric, the fact is they have chosen to walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent. Clearly, Universal’s self-serving actions are not in the best interests of artists, songwriters, and fans.”

Image: Cottonbro/Pexels

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Graeme Hanna
Tech Journalist

Graeme Hanna is a full-time, freelance writer with significant experience in online news as well as content writing. Since January 2021, he has contributed as a football and news writer for several mainstream UK titles including The Glasgow Times, Rangers Review, Manchester Evening News, MyLondon, Give Me Sport, and the Belfast News Letter. Graeme has worked across several briefs including news and feature writing in addition to other significant work experience in professional services. Now a contributing news writer at ReadWrite.com, he is involved with pitching relevant content for publication as well as writing engaging tech news stories.

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