Universal Music and TikTok are in dispute over payments

TikTok will soon lose their music library following a dispute with Universal Music. The breakdown in communication came from payment concerns. Now it will see content creators missing out.

Universal Music and TikTok are in dispute over payments. Photo of a laptop, headphones, mix deck and speakers all from above.
Credit: Pixabay

Universal Music and TikTok have fallen out. Both companies aren’t seeing eye to eye over payments, and following their recent discussions, it appears the music company will be pulling out of the video app. This could lead to problems for creators.

Millions of songs will be removed from the platform. Leaving creatives without music to dance along to, or lip sync over. The hours of viral trends will come to a halt and creators will need to find a new way of reaching their audience and staying engaging.

Artists such as Taylor Swift, Drake, and Harry Styles would be removed from TikTok. Their catalogues would no longer be accessible. Universal have gone as far as accusing TikTok of bullying, which is a huge statement to make.

TikTok don’t want to pay artists fairly

They have stated that the video app only want to pay a fraction of the rate that other social platforms pay. Meaning they’d have access to artists music for far less than the likes of Instagram. However, TikTok claim this is a false narrative.

Each time a song is played on a streaming platform, the music company connected will earn money. These royalty payments are then split between the music company, the artist(s) who own the track, and anyone else involved with their contract.

Despite TikTok having more than one billion users, the platform only accounts for 1% of Universals revenue. It should, in theory, account for so much more. Universal made an open letter for artists and songwriters, in which it spoke about their decision.

They said “ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music“. Then they went on to say they were pushing for “appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters”.

Universal Music are greedy

As of the 31st January, TikTok’s licence with Universal Music will come to an end. TikTok have had something to say in retaliation to this. “It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.”

This is the first time Universal have made such a huge decision. Never before have they remove their entire library from a technology platform. Universal hold the rights to The Beatles, Elton John, Adele, and Coldplay just to name a few.

TikTok aren’t completely losing out, as they have recently struck a deal with a rival music company. In July 2023, they found a licensing deal with Warner Music. Who, are the third-biggest music company worldwide.

So, perhaps content creators won’t suffer too much. Although, it’s unlikely Universal’s artists will struggle either. Perhaps it is a case of it is what it is, and simply, both parties need to go their separate ways. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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