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Universal Music Group Pulls Their Music Catalogue From TikTok

The companies failed to come to an agreement as their existing contract ends in January.

Photo: Solen Feyissa / Unsplash

The Chinese social media company TikTok published an aggressive-sounding statement: «It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.»

It is the answer to Universal Music Group's (UMG) announcement that they will pull their entire music catalogue from the platform—including artists like Taylor Swift, Elton John, or Billie Eilish. It is the result of an ending contract with no follow-up agreement between UMG and TikTok

UMG also published an open letter to the artist and songwriter community, revealing their position:

With respect to the issue of artist and songwriter compensation, TikTok proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay. 

Today, as an indication of how little TikTok compensates artists and songwriters, 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.

Another concern on UMG's part is the rise of AI-generated music on the platform.

UMG also states that TikTok «attempted to bully us into accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal.» According to the major label, TikTok tried to intimitate them by «selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artists, while keeping on the platform our audience-driving global stars.»

Further, UMG continues: «TikTok’s tactics are obvious: use its platform power to hurt vulnerable artists and try to intimidate us into conceding to a bad deal that undervalues music and shortchanges artists and songwriters as well as their fans.»

In response, TikTok argues against what they deem to be «Universal's false narrative and rhetoric» and claim that they have «been able to reach artist-first agreements with every other label and publisher. Clearly, Universal's self-serving actions are not in the best interests of artists, songwriters and fans.»

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