Helena Lyng Blak
3 weeks ago

Music Returns to TikTok: New Licensing Agreement Reached

Harmony restored: Universal Music Group and TikTok resolve their differences to bring music back to millions of users.
New york, USA - June 24 2021: TikTok for creator app on smartphone screen close up — Photo by dimarik
New york, USA - June 24 2021: TikTok for creator app on smartphone screen close up — Photo by dimarik

On Wednesday, May 1, 2024, Universal Music Group (UMG) announced it had reached a new licensing agreement with TikTok, meaning that UMG’s recorded music and publishing catalogs will once again be available for use in videos on TikTok.

“Music is an integral part of the TikTok ecosystem and we are pleased to have found a path forward with Universal Music Group,” said Shou Chew, CEO of TikTok. “We are committed to working together to drive value, discovery and promotion for all of UMG’s amazing artists and songwriters, and deepen their ability to grow, connect and engage with the TikTok community.”

Earlier in the year, UMG announced that it would pull its entire music catalog from the app, including music made by artists such as Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Drake, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and The Beatles, due to claims of unfair compensation for artists, piracy, and poor rules regarding artificial intelligence, calling TikTok’s tactics “exploitative”.  

TikTok responded to UMG’s criticism, accusing the world’s largest music corporation of trying to sell a “false narrative and rhetoric,” and further stating that, “It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.”

As the conflict escalated, TikTok said it was further required to remove songs made by artists not signed to UMG, but who had collaborated with songwriters signed to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG), which led to TikTok withdrawing music from artists such as Harry Styles and SZA from the app.

However, this dispute now appears to have been resolved, as UMG and UMPG’s catalogs return to the app. 

According to UMG, the two parties have worked out a deal that delivers better compensation for artists, new promotional opportunities, and “industry-leading” protections in regards to AI. 

“This new chapter in our relationship with TikTok focuses on the value of music, the primacy of human artistry and the welfare of the creative community,” said Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of UMG. “We look forward to collaborating with the team at TikTok to further the interests of our artists and songwriters and drive innovation in fan engagement while advancing social music monetization.”

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