TikTok Removes Universal Music Tracks After Licensing Dispute
TikTok has started to take down songs provided by Universal Music as a result of the breakdown in licensing negotiations. This decision has seen an impact on primarily TikTok-focused artists, including Universal-signed Noah Kahan, who expressed his concerns to his fans. Kahan admitted that he will no longer be able to promote his music on TikTok due to the ongoing dispute. The situation could have broader implications if TikTok proceeds to remove songs under the control of Universal’s publishing division.
Kahan took to TikTok to share his frustration, expressing, “My songs aren’t going to be on [here] anymore” in a video post. He conveyed sarcastically, “I won’t be able to promote my music on TikTok anymore, but luckily I’m not a TikTok artist, right?” Despite the setback, Kahan is currently promoting an upcoming new version of his album ‘Stick Season’ and a new single ‘Forever’, encouraging fans to pre-save ‘Forever’ if they want to listen to it.
Following Universal’s announcement that its existing TikTok deal was expiring and negotiations for a new deal had stalled, the social media platform issued a statement. The statement, albeit shorter than Universal’s, expressed similar sentiments. It characterized Universal’s actions as putting their own greed ahead of the interests of their artists and songwriters. TikTok expressed disappointment in Universal’s decision to walk away from a powerful platform with over a billion users, which serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent.
Universal’s perspective is that they are advocating for their artists and songwriters by refusing to accept “a fraction of the rate” paid by TikTok’s competitors. They also emphasized TikTok’s failure to address their concerns regarding AI and online safety. On the other hand, many artists and songwriters feel that platforms like TikTok have consistently underpaid for music, and are therefore supportive of Universal’s efforts to secure a better deal.
Despite the ongoing dispute, TikTok is keen to highlight that it still has agreements with the rest of the music industry and is also concerned about AI and online safety. The platform stated, “TikTok has been able to reach ‘artist-first’ agreements with every other label and publisher”. Conversely, Universal’s actions are perceived as self-serving and not in the best interests of artists, songwriters, and fans.
The impact of the expired license from Universal for TikTok is already evident, with recordings disappearing from TikTok’s General Music Library and the audio in existing videos containing those tracks being muted. If the standoff persists, the implications will expand to include the removal of recordings from other labels that feature songs published and licensed by Universal Music Publishing. This could have a significant impact on both TikTok and other labels, presenting additional challenges in terms of data management. Digital platforms often struggle to identify specific songs contained in the recordings delivered to them by record labels and music distributors.
In conclusion, the dispute between TikTok and Universal Music has resulted in the removal of tracks from the social media platform. While both parties have presented their perspectives on the matter, the impact on artists, songwriters, and the digital music landscape remains to be seen. As negotiations continue, the music industry and fans alike will be closely watching for a resolution that serves the best interests of all stakeholders involved.