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News February 15, 2023

ARIA Hits Out at TikTok Over Changes to Music on the Platform

Editorial Operations Manager
ARIA Hits Out at TikTok Over Changes to Music on the Platform

ARIA has come out swinging at TikTok and its parent company ByteDance over its decision to limit music access for some Australian users of the platform.

The move has been labelled a “test” by ByteDance, however ARIA labelled it exploitative, and called on the platform to end the test immediately.

Annabelle Herd, CEO of ARIA, spoke of the wide-ranging implications of the ‘test’ including for artists, users and trust in the platform.

“It is frustrating to see TikTok deliberately disrupt Australians’ user and creator experience in an attempt to downplay the significance of music on its platform. After exploiting artists’ content and relationships with fans to build the platform, TikTok now seeks to rationalise cutting artists’ compensation by staging a ‘test’ of music’s role in content discovery.

“This is despite the fact that in 2021 TikTok’s global head of music, Ole Obermann, said: ‘Music is at the heart of the TikTok experience.’

“This ‘test’ is presented as an effort to analyse, improve and enhance the platform’s wider sound library, but as little as five months ago, TikTok’s chief operating officer, Vanessa Pappas, said that 80% of content consumed on TikTok is programmed by algorithms.

“If this is the case, then it’s difficult to trust that this is a true test. TikTok can set its Australian algorithm upfront to – within parameters they define – deliver the results they want.

“Australians deserve better. TikTok should end this ‘test’ immediately and restore music access to all users and creators.”

TikTok Australia was approached for comment on ARIA’s criticisms.

Previously, the platform told TMN that “more than half” of its local community would experience no change while the test was underway. Some users, however, will be unable to access its full music and sounds library.

“Over the coming weeks we will be running a test in Australia to analyse how music is accessed and used on the platform. Not all music is included in this test and we do not expect it to impact everyone on TikTok,” a spokesperson said earlier this month.

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