Credit: Tolga Akmen / AFP via Getty Images.

The partnership between Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok has apparently deteriorated, leading the music company to remove its music catalogue from the social media platform.

The agreement between the two companies was set to expire on January 31, and negotiations seemed to have reached a deadlock. UMG released a heartfelt open letter to the artist and songwriter community, urging them to “take a stand against TikTok.” The letter outlined UMG’s concerns, including fair compensation for artists and songwriters, safeguarding human creativity from AI risks, and ensuring online safety for TikTok users.

UMG criticized TikTok for proposing payment rates significantly lower than other platforms, accusing TikTok of attempting to build a music-focused business without appropriately valuing the music it features. UMG stated:

TikTok’s strategy is clear: leverage its platform influence to disadvantage vulnerable artists and coerce us into accepting an unfair deal that devalues music and undermines the rights of artists, songwriters, and their followers.

In response, TikTok issued a statement denouncing UMG’s actions and accused the music company of prioritizing greed over the wellbeing of its artists and songwriters. TikTok refuted UMG’s claims, asserting that they have successfully negotiated ‘artist-first’ agreements with other labels and publishers.

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UMG, a major player in the music industry responsible for a significant portion of the world’s music, disclosed that only 1% of its revenue stems from TikTok, despite the platform boasting over a billion users. UMG’s artist lineup includes globally recognized names such as Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, The Weeknd, and Drake.

If negotiations fail to reach a resolution by today, a spokesperson confirmed that UMG will promptly remove its entire music catalogue from TikTok.

TikTok has rapidly made inroads into the music industry, introducing initiatives like its streaming service, a music festival, and a collaboration with Billboard for a music chart within the last year. Additionally, Warner Music Group recently signed an expanded partnership with TikTok.

Topics Music TikTok

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Meera Navlakha
Culture Reporter

Meera is a Culture Reporter at Mashable, joining the UK team in 2021. She writes about digital culture, mental health, big tech, entertainment, and more. Her work has also been published in The New York Times, Vice, Vogue India, and others.


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