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Music label threatens to pull songs off TikTok over compensation debate

Jan 31

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Some popular TikTok songs may be pulled from the app soon, including Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Billie Eilish and more. Universal Music Group — one of the largest music labels representing major pop stars — is threatening to pull its artists’ music because of a clash with TikTok about compensation.

“Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music,” UMG said in a public letter to its artists. “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. ”

UMG said if TikTok does not put forward a better offer by the end of the day on Jan. 31, then the label will remove the artists’ soundtracks on the app.

TikTok was quick to respond.

“It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters,” TikTok said in a statement on X. “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.”

While the two giants in their respective industries are at odds, they are also mutually beneficial.

The majority of videos posted on TikTok have music to them. Eight out of the top 10 most popular artists heard on TikTok are represented by UMG.

From viral dance videos to the beat of a Taylor Swift song, to lip syncs of Drake’s raps and more, the artists get millions of listens. This means the musicians’ songs are getting boosts in the Billboard Top 10 and a bump in revenue, which may not have happened otherwise.

For example, Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” went viral from a video garnering over 90 million views. The song, which is from the 70s, likely would never have been in the Top 100 in 2020. However, TikTok’s boost gave it new life, generating more listens and more money.

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[KARAH RUCKER]

SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE TIKTOK VIDEOS COULD SOON GO SILENT.

SONGS FROM POPULAR ARTISTS SUCH AS TAYLOR SWIFT, HARRY STYLES AND BILLIE EILISH.

THESE ONCE TRENDING SONGS THAT WERE PLASTERED ON MILLIONS OF TIKTOK VIDEOS –

COULD SOON LEAVE THE APP.

THAT’S BECAUSE “UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP” – ONE OF THE LARGEST MUSIC LABELS REPRESENTING MAJOR POP STARS – IS THREATENING TO PULL ITS ARTISTS’ MUSIC OVER A CLASH WITH TIKTOK —

ABOUT COMPENSATION.

WHILE THE TWO GIANTS IN THEIR RESPECTIVE INDUSTRIES ARE AT ODDS –

THEY ARE ALSO MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL.

UMG SAID IN A PUBLIC LETTER TO ITS ARTISTS –

“Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music.

“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. ”

TIKTOK WAS QUICK TO RESPOND.

A STATEMENT ON X READ –

“IT IS SAD AND DISAPPOINTING THAT UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP HAS PUT THEIR OWN GREED ABOVE THE INTERESTS OF THEIR ARTISTS AND SONGWRITERS. 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.”

IT’S A SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP.

THE MAJORITY OF VIDEOS POSTED ON TIKTOK – HAVE MUSIC TO THEM.

AND 8 OUT OF THE TOP 10 MOST POPULAR ARTISTS HEARD ON TIKTOK –

ARE REPRESENTED BY THIS MUSIC LABEL.

FROM VIRAL DANCE VIDEOS TO THE BEAT OF TAYLOR SWIFT

TO VIRAL LIP SYNCS OF DRAKE’S RAP LYRICS

AND FOR THE ARTISTS GETTING THOSE MILLIONS OF LISTENS –

THEIR SONGS THEN GET BOOSTS IN THE BILLBOARD TOP 100.

WHICH ALSO MEANS A BUMP IN REVENUE.

ONE EXAMPLE –

FLEETWOOD MAC’S “DREAMS” WENT VIRAL FROM THIS VIDEO.

GARNERING MORE THAN 90 MILLION VIEWS.

A SONG FROM THE 70’S THAT NEVER WOULD’VE BEEN ON THE TOP 100 IN 2020.

BUT TIKTOK’S BOOST –

GAVE IT NEW LIFE.

GENERATING MORE LISTENS. AND MORE MONEY.

UMG SAYS IF TIKTOK DOESN’T PUT A BETTER OFFER ON THE TABLE BY “END OF DAY” – THEN THEY’LL PULL THE PLUG ON THEIR ARTISTS’ SOUNDTRACKS.

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