Universal Music reveals plan to remove songs from TikTok

Universal Music reveals plan to remove songs from TikTok

The music label has accused TikTok of attempting to bully it into accepting a poor deal for its artists and songwriters.

Collage image of Drake and Taylor Swift
Drake, Taylor Swift/ Instagram (@taylorswift, @champagnepapi)

Universal Music Group is threatening to pull all its songs from TikTok following a dispute over artist and songwriter payments. 

The music company, which represents musicians such as Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, and Drake, wrote an open letter to the artist and songwriter community on Tuesday.

It is calling for a time-out until TikTok addresses several issues.

"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," the label wrote. 

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Universal Music is accusing TikTok of "trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music".

One of the disagreements relates to the amount artists and songwriters are paid. Universal claims TikTok is proposing a "rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay". 

TikTok reportedly has more than one-billion users. However, according to the music group, "despite its massive and growing user base, rapidly rising advertising revenue, and increasing reliance on music-based content, TikTok accounts for only about 1% of our total revenue". 

Universal Music also expressed concern over the use of AI on the platform. 

"TikTok is allowing the platform to be flooded with AI-generated recordings—as well as developing tools to enable, promote, and encourage AI music creation on the platform itself – and then demanding a contractual right which would allow this content to massively dilute the royalty pool for human artists, in a move that is nothing short of sponsoring artist replacement by AI," the open letter states.

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TikTok has responded to Universal Music Group's open letter. 

It says it is "disappointing" that the music company has decided to put its "own 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," TikTok said in a statement

TikTok says it has reached 'artist-first' deals with "every other" music label. 

"Clearly, Universal's self-serving actions are not in the best interests of artists, songwriters and fans." 

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Main image credit: Instagram/taylorswift, champagnepapi

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