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News February 11, 2021

TikTok’s Ollie Wards on Universal licensing deal: ‘We’re really excited’

Senior Journalist, B2B
TikTok’s Ollie Wards on Universal licensing deal: ‘We’re really excited’

TikTok, for so long castigated by the ex-president Trump and an outlier with the music industry, is now fully signed-up with the world’s biggest music company, Universal Music Group.

Earlier this week, UMG announced a global agreement with the short-form video platform, that “delivers equitable compensation for recording artists and songwriters.”

Through the content partnership, TikTok users can now use UMG’s full catalog of music to soundtrack their clips, with micro-payments trickling down to the creators.

“UMG have a deep catalogue of some of the world’s best music, much of which is from Australian and Kiwi artists,” comments Ollie Wards, Director of Music at TikTok Australia and New Zealand in a statement to TIO.

“We’re really excited for our TikTok community to now be able to use that music as soundtracks to their videos.”



Both parties will now work “more closely than ever” to “promote ambitious experimentation, innovation and collaboration,” adds Michael Nash, Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy at UMG, in a corporate statement.

What a different 18 months make.

In the later months of 2019, APRA fired a broadside at the platform, calling for execs at TikTok to “do the right thing by copyright owners and take out licences to ensure music creators get paid for the use of their work,” while the U.S. National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) urged Congress to look into its behaviour.

In the time since, TikTok has gone legit.

A US$200 million “Creator Fund” and a multi-year, global partnership agreement was struck the NMPA, and TikTok signed deals with Merlin, Sony Music, Warner Music and now Universal.

Last year, Tiktok expanded its Australian team with the addition of Wards as its first local director of music, and filled several other key positions covering its activities on both sides of the Tasman.

The logo for massively popular app TikTok


TikTok is the “hot new social network,” particularly with young Australians, according to market research firm Roy Morgan, which reports more than 1.6 million Australians visit the website or use the app in an average month.

As part of its reach out to community, TikTok announced it will host a float at the Mardi Gras for the first time, with G-Flip playing a starring role, and the company is on board as a sponsor for the 2021 NBL season.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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