TikTok Lost Music: Fans of Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, and various other artists under Universal Music Group (UMG), along with content creators on TikTok who incorporate their music, are on the brink of encountering a void of sound. In an open letter, UMG stated that discussions with the social media platform concerning the renewal of licensing agreements have reached an impasse, and no resolution has been reached. The existing license, enabling the use of music from UMG’s extensive artist lineup and catalogs as audio on the short-form video platform, is set to expire on Wednesday night.
According to UMG, three key issues are obstructing a deal: ensuring proper compensation for their artists and songwriters, safeguarding human artists from the adverse impacts of AI, and addressing online safety concerns for TikTok users. UMG’s statement emphasized that TikTok’s proposed payment for artists and songwriters falls significantly below the rates offered by comparable major social platforms.
In their conclusion, UMG stated that TikTok is attempting to establish a music-centric business without fairly compensating for the music. In response, TikTok issued its own statement, asserting that UMG’s actions are self-serving and not aligned with the best interests of artists, songwriters, and fans.
Tiktok: Why Is AI An Issue With Music?
UMG has expressed concerns with TikTok, particularly regarding AI usage. TikTok allows users to generate AI music on the platform and share AI-created recordings, including versions of musicians’ works generated by AI. UMG’s perspective is that this practice significantly diminishes the royalty pool for human artists, characterizing it as a move that essentially sponsors the replacement of human artists with AI.
“On AI, TikTok is allowing the platform to be flooded with AI-generated recordings—as well as developing tools to enable, promote and encourage AI music creation on the platform itself – and then demanding a contractual right which would allow this content to massively dilute the royalty pool for human artists, in a move that is nothing short of sponsoring artist replacement by AI,” the letter reads.
It continues, “Further, TikTok makes little effort to deal with the vast amounts of content on its platform that infringe our artists’ music and it has offered no meaningful solutions to the rising tide of content adjacency issues, let alone the tidal wave of hate speech, bigotry, bullying and harassment on the platform. The only means available to seek the removal of infringing or problematic content (such as pornographic deepfakes of artists) is through the monumentally cumbersome and inefficient process which equates to the digital equivalent of ‘Whack-a-Mole.'”
What Happens to Videos Using UMG Artists’ Music After the License Expires
Once UMG’s license agreement with TikTok lapses on Wednesday, videos incorporating official sounds by UMG artists, including hit songs by artists like Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo, will experience the removal of their audio. This implies that potentially millions of videos could lose their sound. For certain users, particularly those whose content revolves around interpreting music or heavily relies on the work of artists like Swift, who is currently re-releasing albums, this situation raises uncertainties about their future on the platform. Some creators are already contemplating downloading their existing videos before the license expires and considering a transition to another platform.
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