TikTok Strikes Licensing Deal with Universal, Music Returns to Platform

TikTok users can rejoice as music makes a comeback to the platform following a new licensing agreement between TikTok and Universal Music Group (UMG).


After a temporary hiatus due to the expiration of its licensing agreement, UMG’s music catalog, featuring artists like Taylor Swift, Björk, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Aphex Twin, Skrillex, Knife Party, and more, will once again grace TikTok videos.


The previous rift stemmed from UMG’s concerns over compensation for its artists and songwriters, with accusations leveled at TikTok for undervaluing their contributions compared to other social platforms. Despite TikTok’s significant user base and revenue growth, UMG claimed it accounted for only a fraction of its total earnings.


Now, with a fresh agreement in place, UMG’s Chairman and CEO, Sir Lucian Grainge, emphasized the importance of music and the creative community, heralding a new chapter in their partnership. TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew, echoed this sentiment, underlining music’s integral role within the platform’s ecosystem.


In addition to welcoming back UMG artists, the agreement addresses concerns surrounding generative AI in music. TikTok and UMG pledge to collaborate on AI development to safeguard human creativity and ensure fair compensation for artists and songwriters. Unauthorized AI-generated music will be removed, with enhanced attribution tools to credit creators properly.


Furthermore, the deal promises new monetization avenues for artists, leveraging TikTok’s expanding e-commerce capabilities. Artist-centric features are in the pipeline, including an “Add to Music App” option, improved analytics, and integrated ticketing services.


The agreement comes amid broader regulatory scrutiny, with the US Senate passing a bill compelling ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, to sell the app within a year or face potential bans. Meanwhile, in the UK, data reveals a surge in content removal requests related to UK drill music, highlighting ongoing challenges for platforms like TikTok in managing content moderation.

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