UMG Responds to TikTok As Its Catalog Is Removed From Platform

    In an open letter to musicians and songwriters on January 30, Universal Music Group, the largest music corporation in the world, revealed that it will cease licensing its content to TikTok as the two parties failed to come up with a new agreement. The company accused TikTok of trying to “bully” and “intimidate” them into a deal, citing artist compensation, user safety, and AI as key issues at dispute.

    In its response on Wednesday, TikTok criticized UMG of having “put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.” It concluded, “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.”

    UMG, which began removing its catalog off the service on Wednesday night, has now issued a new statement in reply to TikTok (via Billboard):

    Our agreements with TikTok have expired because of TikTok’s unwillingness to appropriately compensate artists and songwriters, protect human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and address online safety issues for TikTok’s users (more on that here).

    In fact, TikTok’s own statement perfectly sums up its woefully outdated view: Even though TikTok (formerly Musical.ly) has built one of the world’s largest and most valuable social media platforms off the backs of artists and songwriters, TikTok still argues that artists should be grateful for the “free promotion” and that music companies are “greedy” for expecting them to simply compensate artists and songwriters appropriately, and on similar levels as other social media platforms currently do.

    TikTok didn’t even attempt to address the other issues we raised regarding harmful AI and platform safety. It’s no surprise that artist rights advocates are speaking out in support of our action.

    UMG represents some of the biggest stars in the world, including Taylor Swift, Drake, Adele, Bad Bunny, the Weeknd, Billie Eilish, and many more.

    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis is a writer, journalist, and music editor at Our Culture. His work has also appeared in Pitchfork, GIGsoup, and other publications. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

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