UMG Responds to TikTok, Calling Its Views on Artist and Writer Compensation ‘Woefully Outdated’

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With Universal Music Group’s catalog now being slowly removed from TikTok, the music company issued a new statement Thursday (Feb. 1) commenting on what it says are TikTok’s “woefully outdated” views on music licensing and compensation.

The stalemate between the world’s largest music company and the short-form video app was made public Tuesday when UMG released a strongly worded open letter to its artists and songwriters, explaining that all of their music would be removed from the platform if a licensing agreement was not reached by the following day. In the letter, UMG detailed its reasons for not being able to reach an agreement, including disagreements about compensation, artificial intelligence, infringing works on the platform, and harassment.

TikTok replied within hours, calling UMG’s letter a “false narrative” and that it was “sad and disappointing that [UMG] has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.” It noted that TikTok acts as an important “free promotion” and “discovery” tool for their artists.

Perhaps even further away from a deal than before, the licensing agreement expired on Jan. 31, and UMG’s catalog began disappearing from TikTok.

Read UMG’s latest statement in reply to TikTok below:

“Our agreements with TikTok have expired because of TikTok’s unwillingness to appropriately compensate artists and songwriters, protect human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and address online safety issues for TikTok’s users (more on that here),” says a spokesperson of UMG.

“In fact, TikTok’s own statement perfectly sums up its woefully outdated view: Even though TikTok (formerly Musical.ly) has built one of the world’s largest and most valuable social media platforms off the backs of artists and songwriters, TikTok still argues that artists should be grateful for the “free promotion” and that music companies are “greedy” for expecting them to simply compensate artists and songwriters appropriately, and on similar levels as other social media platforms currently do.

TikTok didn’t even attempt to address the other issues we raised regarding harmful AI and platform safety. It’s no surprise that artist rights advocates are speaking out in support of our action.”

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Universal Music Group Announces Label Restructure, With Monte Lipman and John Janick as Leaders

The Universal Music Group announced a massive restructuring of its record label operations on Thursday (Feb. 1), reorganizing its web of frontline labels to align them under two main companies, in Republic Records and Interscope Records. The move, which can loosely be termed an East Coast (Republic) and West Coast (Interscope) realignment, means that Interscope’s John Janick and Republic’s Monte Lipman will be leading U.S. label operations for UMG. As part of the move, the other U.S. label heads will […]

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