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TikTok & UMG Finally Reach an Agreement, So UMG Roster Gets Back to TikTok

Photo by Giorgio Trovato / Unsplash

Several months have passed since the face-off between TikTok and one of the music recording majors, Universal Music Group, has begun, and there's finally an agreement, which means that all UMG artists are getting back on the short-video sharing platform.

This is good news for the industry and smaller artists in particular who relied on the power of the TikTok algorithm and lost it. The face-off sparked in January when UMG started removing its roster's music from TikTok because of these reasons, as we reported back in February:

  • TikTok doesn’t pay enough to UMG artists in comparison with other social platforms, despite living off music.
  • TikTok caters to AI-generated content and doesn't protect artists from it. Universal Music Group, however, is crusading against it.
  • The third concern was "online safety of TikTok users," which wasn’t a problem for UMG all these years. We remind you that TikTok was accused of infringing users’ safety several times before.

As a result of the conflict, millions of songs disappeared from TikTok and millions of videos went silent because UMG pulled out not just those tracks that belonged to its recording catalogue but publishing catalogue as well.

Last month Taylor Swift music was back on TikTok, however, and Billboard rightfully asked if other artists' music could face the same outcome. So it happens, it can. In fact, it has, because now, a couple of months after the feud began, the two companies have reached an agreement that apparently satisfies both parties.

In a joint "new multi-dimensional licensing agreement" announced on May 1, new stipulations have been established between the two powerhouses, described as "a new era of strategic collaboration between the two organizations" in a press release.

Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO, Universal Music Group, shared in the press release: “This new chapter in our relationship with TikTok focuses on the value of music, the primacy of human artistry and the welfare of the creative community. We look forward to collaborating with the team at TikTok to further the interests of our artists and songwriters and drive innovation in fan engagement while advancing social music monetization.”

As part of the agreement, the press release says, both organisations will work together to "realise new monetisation opportunities utilising TikTok’s growing e-commerce capabilities and will work together on campaigns supporting UMG’s artists across genres and territories globally."

Noteworthy among the terms is the agreement's provisions regarding artificial intelligence: TikTok will collaborate with UMG to eliminate any unauthorised AI-generated music from its platform.

TikTok will continue to invest significant resources into building artist-centric tools that will help UMG artists realise their potential on the growing platform. Tools including “Add to Music App”, enhanced data and analytics, and integrated ticketing capabilities will benefit artists, both financially and in building their global fanbases using TikTok’s scale and engaged community, while strengthening online safety protections for artists and their fans, the press release reads.

When will users be able to use the tracks of Drake, Ariana Grande, BTS, The Weeknd, Drake, Bad Bunny, and Harry Styles? The press release says UMG and TikTok are now "working expeditiously to return music by artists represented by Universal Music Group and songwriters represented by Universal Music Publishing Group to TikTok in due course."