Image source: bbc.com
After a dispute with their record label, TikTok deleted music from videos featuring stars like Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, and The Weeknd (UMG). Wednesday was the expiration of the licensing agreement between the label and TikTok, and no new deal could be struck.
TikTok requested a “fraction” of the rate other social media platforms pay to use UMG’s songs, according to UMG. An accusation of “false narrative and rhetoric” was leveled against UMG by TikTok.
The ability to create new videos using tracks from UMG will be disabled, and all existing videos containing UMG music will be muted. Besides a handful of tracks released by other labels, several artists’ web pages have removed most of their music, including Katy Perry and Ariana Grande.
Another musician from UMG, Billie Eilish, has had all but one of her tracks removed. Warner Music Group published her song “What Was I Made For?” which was used in the soundtrack of the Barbie movie.
Another inaccessible song is “Murder on the Dancefloor” by Sophie Ellis-Bextor, which went viral after appearing in the film Saltburn.
You can still use unofficial, accelerated, and slowed-down versions of songs.
“Two planets colliding”
In a video posted to his account, Noah Kahan expressed his frustration at being unable to promote his new song on TikTok. His number one song, Stick Season, originated as a famous TikTok clip.
“I can’t stick it down your throats any more on this app,” he lamented.
“I’ll probably be OK, right? I’ll land on my feet, right?”
In the meantime, UMG artist Cody Fry expressed his feelings of being “like a person standing between two colliding planets” in a TikTok video, referring to the rumors of the licensing agreement expiration that he had seen when one of his songs was becoming popular in China.
In an interview with the BBC, the 33-year-old artist revealed that he had no TikTok account when his song “I Hear A Symphony” became popular on the app in 2021, even though it had been released a while earlier.
He said that he felt TikTok needed to “value music more than it does currently” and hoped the two titans could have worked out their disagreements without “leaving it to the expense of artists on the ground.”
“I don’t know much about the mechanics of these massive corporate negotiations,” according to him, “but I’d be remiss if I didn’t express the frustration about how this was handled on behalf of myself, and I think Universal’s artists, because to find out something like this on the news, it’s pretty tough.”
When people listen to music on streaming services or share it on social media, the music industry and artists get a cut of the royalties. You can hear them as the soundtrack to the videos you post on TikTok.
However, a significant and well-publicized controversy arose in this instance based on long-standing concerns about the platforms’ low payment rates. The deadline was January 31, but UMG and TikTok needed help to reach an agreement on a new partnership in time.
Ultimately, TikTok is attempting to establish a music-based enterprise but needs to compensate artists fairly, according to an open letter sent by Universal on January 30. One AI-generated song that sounded like Drake and The Weeknd went viral, and Universal expressed its concern about obtaining artists’ proper remuneration.
“Content creators already compete on social media platforms with diluted or non-existent royalty pools,” stated Franklin Graves, an attorney and author of a newsletter focused on legal developments in the creator economy.
“By throwing an additional licensing payment for AI-generated music into the mix, it could potentially decrease any ad revenue share left after TikTok’s cut and rights holders are paid,” he said.
According to Universal, TikTok’s content moderation was inadequate in handling “the tidal wave of hate speech, bigotry, bullying and harassment on the platform.” As for Universal, they found other flaws as well.
TikTok said: “It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.”Despite Universal’s bluster and false narratives, the truth remains that they have decided to quit supporting a platform with over a billion users, which provides a free platform for promoting and discovering their talent,” it continued.
In July 2023, Warner Music, a competitor of Universal, reached a licensing agreement with TikTok.