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Universal Music To Pull Songs From TikTok
Christian Eede , January 31st, 2024 14:59

The move comes amid a battle about royalty payments between the two companies

Universal Music is set to pull its catalogue of music from the social media platform TikTok in response to a breakdown in talks over royalty payments.

It would mean that users of TikTok would no longer have access to music by key artists of the major label, such as Taylor Swift and Drake, among many others. Universal has accused TikTok of "bullying" and alleged that the social media company wanted to pay a "fraction" of the rate that other similar sites do for access to its music.

TikTok hit back against that claim, alleging that Universal was presenting a "false narrative and rhetoric". TikTok – which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance – currently has more than one billion users, but Universal says use of its tracks on the platform accounts for just one per cent of the major label's total revenue.

Addressing "the artist and songwriter community" in an open letter, Universal said, "ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music". As a result of that, the company said it is pushing back against that, and fighting for "appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters". The open letter added that it was aiming to protect "human artists from the harmful effects of AI" and raise concerns about the "online safety for TikTok's users".

The company ultimately stopped licensing its music to TikTok when the existing license expired on January 31. It's not yet known whether the two companies will come back to the table to discuss a renewal in relations and terms.

Responding to Universal, TikTok said: "It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their 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."