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TikTok: Universal wants to remove its music from TikTok

The world’s largest music company Universal Music and the social media platform TikTok have not been able to agree on a new licensing agreement. Universal will stop licensing its content, the music label announced. All Universal songs would be removed from TikTok once the contract expires on January 31st. Music by artists like Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga could then disappear from the app.

Universal accuses TikTok of “building a music-based business without paying fair value for the music.” Universal Music said in an open letter that the short video service only offered musicians and song authors a “fraction” of the remuneration usual on other similar online platforms. TikTok’s revenue only made up around one percent of the label’s total revenue.

TikTok also tried to “intimidate” Universal during the negotiations and force it into a deal that was worth less than the previous contract. The social media platform removed pieces by little-known Universal musicians.

In a statement to the Reuters news agency, TikTok described Universal’s representation as false. The label’s actions are not in the best interests of the artists, songwriters and fans.

According to the music company, TikTok also allows music created on a large scale using artificial intelligence onto the platform and demands contractual freedom for this. In this way, the company is actually pushing forward “the replacement of artists with AI”.

Universal’s exit also has consequences for artists

Universal Music also criticized TikTok for taking little action against music piracy and not having an efficient process for removing problematic content such as fake pornographic images of artists. Such pictures of Universal star Taylor Swift were circulated just last week.

Universal’s exit could have significant implications for TikTok. Many videos on the platform are based on musical accompaniment. The music label has many of the world’s most popular musicians under contract.

However, Universal Music also admitted that the move would have consequences for its own musicians. But you have a responsibility to fight for fair conditions for them. TikTok accused Universal Music Group of putting its own “greed” above the interests of artists. Universal is foregoing the “strong support of a platform with significantly more than a billion users,” which allows musicians to be advertised free of charge and new talent to be known.

Universal reached an agreement with TikTok in February 2021 that previously allowed users to include Universal clips in their videos.

On TikTok, predominantly young users share short video clips. The app has more than a billion users worldwide and is the only successful online platform in the West that does not come from the USA. The service belongs to the ByteDance group, which comes from China. TikTok has been criticized in several cases due to gaps in data and youth protection.

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