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Universal Music Group Threatens TikTok Over Removal Compensation



Clear Facts

  • Universal Music Group (UMG) threatens to remove its artists’ music from TikTok over compensation issues.
  • UMG claims TikTok is building a music-based business without paying fair value for the music.
  • TikTok accuses UMG of putting their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.

Universal Music Group, responsible for songs by artists such as Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Drake, Bad Bunny, Billie Eilish, and many other major music industry stars, announced that its music would be removed from TikTok unless they can come to an agreement over money. In an open letter posted Wednesday, UMG said it is looking out for its artists and demands higher compensation for music used on the platform. According to NBC News, about 60% of TikTok videos include music.

The statement read, “TikTok proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay.” The Dutch American-owned company added, “Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music.”

UMG’s letter also mentioned artificial intelligence (AI) tools employed by TikTok, which it said could have negative outcomes in addition to ushering in “a tidal wave of hate speech, bigotry, bullying and harassment.” The letter continued, “As our negotiations continued, 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.”

The company accused TikTok of “selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artists” while keeping “audience-driving global stars” as a form of intimidation. UMG’s letter stated, “TikTok’s tactics are obvious: use its platform power to hurt vulnerable artists and try to intimidate us into conceding to a bad deal that undervalues music and shortchanges artists and songwriters as well as their fans. We will never do that. We will always fight for our artists and songwriters and stand up for the creative and commercial value of music.”

In response, TikTok said it was “sad and disappointing” that UMG chose to “put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.” The platform argued, “Despite Universal’s false narrative and rhetoric, 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 promotion and discovery vehicle for their talent.” TikTok noted that it was able to reach an agreement with other labels and publishers, then accused UMG of having “self-serving interests.”

Clear Thoughts (op-ed)

Universal Music Group’s (UMG) decision to potentially remove their artists’ music from TikTok highlights the ongoing battle between the music industry and social media platforms. UMG claims TikTok is exploiting their artists and songwriters, while TikTok accuses UMG of greed.

It’s important to remember that TikTok, like other social media platforms, relies on user-generated content to drive engagement. Music is undeniably a significant aspect of this engagement. While UMG’s concerns about fair compensation for their artists are valid, they must also consider the promotion and exposure their artists receive through TikTok’s massive user base.

UMG’s mention of AI tools potentially leading to hate speech and harassment is a separate issue that should not be conflated with the compensation dispute. Overall, both parties need to reassess their priorities and find a fair solution that benefits artists, songwriters, and fans alike.

Let us know what you think, please share your thoughts in the comments below.





  1. Sean

    February 6, 2024 at 8:21 am

    Tik Tok is owned by the Chinese, so they never can be trusted with anything. They steal everything from the West to empower themselves. They are liars & always try to deceive & take advantage of others.
    So UMG has the right to sue them &/or force them to shut down.

  2. James Nicholas Fridas

    February 8, 2024 at 1:57 am

    Someone needs to tell Tik Tok that all mediums pay royalties to artists because they are social media, and no they are not being greedy, they are following protocol! You need to get with the program or get the hell out of America!

  3. Jack Jones

    February 8, 2024 at 1:18 pm

    UMG IS a greedy, money-grubbing corporation. Just pay attention to how they go after people on YouTube. That being said, I’m quite sur TIK TOK probably has no intention of paying fair market value for any of the artists music that appears on their app.
    It would be nice if the article had disclosed the amount UMG gets from other social media sites and what TIK TOK was offering.

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