The catalog of major label Universal Music Group (UMG) will potentially be removed from TikTok, one of the world’s largest social platforms, due to their inability to come to an agreement during the negotiation of their contract, which expired yesterday (Jan. 31). This measure would not only include the work of UMG artists such as global sensations Taylor Swift, BTS, Drake, Ariana Grande and many more, but any song that any Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) songwriter contributed to as well.
According to an open letter from UMG to its artists and songwriters shared on Tuesday (Jan. 30), TikTok and UMG disagreed on three key factors in the negotiation, including compensation for artists and songwriters, appropriate protection measures in regards to artificial intelligence, and online safety for TikTok’s users.
In the letter, UMG stated that it had been working with the platform to address its concerns, but that the platform “responded first with indifference, and then with intimidation.”
The letter proceeded: “As our negotiations continued, TikTok attempted to bully us into accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value and not reflective of their exponential growth. How did it try to intimidate us? By selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artists, while keeping on the platform our audience-driving global stars.
“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. We will never do that. We will always fight for our artists and songwriters and stand up for the creative and commercial value of music.”
UMG shared that while it recognized the challenges that the measures would cause for artists and their fans, the company has “an overriding responsibility to our artists to fight for a new agreement under which they are appropriately compensated for their work.”
TikTok responded to UMG’s open letter on Tuesday (Jan. 30), sharing that 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. TikTok has 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.”
If is unclear when or if the parties will come to new agreement. This is a developing story.
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