February 11, (THEWILL) – The ongoing battle between Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok has left music enthusiasts in a quandary.
UMG is the world’s leading music company, with a roster of artistes and labels in more than 60 countries. TikTok, on the other hand, which is owned by Chinese company, ByteDance, has evolved into a crucial marketing tool for musicians worldwide, catapulting songs to global acclaim.
Last month, just a day before UMG’s licensing agreement with TikTok expired, the music powerhouse publicly announced its decision not to renew the deal. Citing issues such as inadequate compensation, AI encroachments on artists’ creative works, and concerns over online safety, UMG reiterated its commitment to nurturing artistic and commercial endeavours in an open letter. The company argued that despite TikTok’s “massive and growing user base, rapidly rising advertising revenue and increasing reliance on music-based content, TikTok accounts for only about 1 per cent of its (UMG) total revenue.
In response, TikTok said UMG chose 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 stated that it has been able to reach ‘artist-first’ agreements with every other label and publisher, and Universal’s self-serving actions are not in the best interests of artists, songwriters and fans.
The battle has caused songs of UMG artists, such as Drake, Taylor Swift and Tiwa Savage to be removed from the TikTok audio library and in cases where they have been uploaded by users or even the artists, they were muted. The company once said that music is at the heart of its app experience.
Beyond promoting music, the social media platform has become a discovery hub for many music lovers, linking them to new sounds while evoking a feeling of nostalgia for old music.
There are dedicated accounts that upload Nigerian old skool’s music. But sometimes, artists complain that these social media and streaming platforms only pay them pittances, raising concerns about the appropriate payment for creative work. Many reluctantly stayed on the platform to retain their fan base. The rift between the two giants has ignited a fervent debate among music enthusiasts. While some view the rift between TikTok and UMG as an opportunity for independent artists to shine without being tied to record labels, others advocate for fair compensation for artists whose intellectual property graces TikTok’s platform.