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Jack Ramage
2 May 2024, 15:13

Music will return to TikTok as platform reaches licensing agreement with Universal

The new deal also addresses the issue of generative AI in music

Music will return to TikTok as platform reaches licensing agreement with Universal

Music owned by Universal Music Group will return to TikTok following a licensing agreement reached between the label and the app. 

UMG (Universal Music Group) removed its tracks from the platform in January of this year due to the expiration of its licensing agreement. 

As a result, videos featuring music from artists like Taylor Swift, Björk, Drake, and Kendrick Lamar, as well as electronic music artists Aphex Twin, Skrillex, Knife Party, and many others were muted.

At the time, UMG accused TikTok of exploiting its platform “to hurt vulnerable artists”, stating that TikTok proposed compensating their artists and songwriters a “fraction of the rate” of what other major social platforms pay. 

UMG highlighted that despite TikTok's substantial user base, escalating advertising revenue, and growing reliance on music-based content, it contributed only about 1 percent to its total revenue.

Now, the two parties have reached a new agreement, with UMG boss Sir Lucian Grainge stating: "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.” 

Shou Chew, CEO of TikTok, added: "Music is an integral part of the TikTok ecosystem, and we are pleased to have found a path forward with Universal Music Group.”

Notably, alongside the return of UMG artists to the platform, the new deal will address the issue of generative AI in music. Earlier this week, a cross-party parliamentary group urged the UK government to advance stalled plans to implement artificial intelligence regulations and artist protections.

“TikTok and UMG will work together to ensure AI development across the music industry will protect human artistry and the economics that flow to those artists and songwriters,” the press release announcing the new deal reads. “TikTok is also committed to working with UMG to remove unauthorized AI-generated music from the platform, as well as tools to improve artist and songwriter attribution.”

The deal will include "new monetization opportunities" for artists arising from TikTok’s growing e-commerce capabilities.  TikTok has plans to develop "artist-centric tools”, the release adds, including an "Add to Music App" feature, enhanced data and analytics, and integrated ticketing capabilities.

Earlier this year the US Senate passed a bill aimed at compelling ByteDance, the China-based parent company of TikTok, to sell the popular app within a year or face a ban from app stores

Across the pond, UK drill TikTok content removal requests from the Metropolitan Police saw an increase of 366 percent since 2020, according to data obtained by DJ Mag via a Freedom of Information Request. During the 2022/23 fiscal year, the removal of UK drill content on the platform accounted for 64 percent of removal referrals on TikTok.