Text: Izzy Copestake
That’s millions of songs. Is this a goodbye for Drake and Taylor Swift TikTok sounds?
Universal Music have not held back in an open letter posted online titled ‘Why We Must Call Time Out On TikTok’. The scathing letter has outlined three major grievances with TikTok: lack of appropriate payment for artists and songwriters, insufficient protection from the dangers of AI and concerns with online safety.
The agreed contract between the two companies is set to expire today (31/1/24), yet at present, no resolution has been reached as negotiations have come to a stalemate. This places the app at risk of loosing a vast amount of the music available to users. A lack of appropriate payment is a major concern in the letter, which reads: ‘Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music.’ Universal Music have also highlighted that just 1% of their annual income is from TikTok, and that the app pays artists just a ‘fraction’ of what other platforms offer.
Universal Music has also made accusations of bullying, stating that ‘TikTok attempted to bully us into accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value and not reflective of their exponential growth.’ The letter claimed that TikTok deliberately tried to intimidate them, by ‘selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artists, while keeping on the platform our audience-driving global stars.’
In response to the claims, TikTok released their own statement, declaring it “sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.” The statement has also called Universal Music Group’s narrative false.
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