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News February 1, 2024

TikTok Responds to ‘Sad and Disappointing’ UMG Open-Letter

TikTok Responds to ‘Sad and Disappointing’ UMG Open-Letter

Forget the ongoing beef between Megan Thee Stallion and Nicki Minaj; the public spat between Universal Music Group and TikTok takes the cake.

As the calendar flipped to February, UMG and TikTok had entered into a cold war.

With the old content agreement expiring on Jan. 31, 2024, negotiations for a new contract covering TikTok and TikTok Music ended without an agreement — and evolved into an extraordinary slanging match.

First, the music giant shared an open letter in which it was critical of TikTok’s behaviour at the negotiating table, and claimed the video-streaming platform didn’t have the best interests in mind for creators and its users.

Universal, in its statement to the world, had reached the end of the line.

“In our contract renewal discussions, we have been pressing them on three critical issues—appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and online safety for TikTok’s users,” reads the letter.

TikTok failed, according to UMG, which went on to accuse the tech business of “bully” tactics, “indifference” and “intimidation.”

Later Tuesday, Jan. 30, a response from TikTok.

Like Universal’s opening salvo, the ByteDance-owned business didn’t pull its punches.

“It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters,” the statement reads.

“Despite Universal’s false narrative and rhetoric, the fact is they have chosen to walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent.”

TikTok claims it “has been able to reach ‘artist-first’ agreements with every other label and publisher. Clearly, Universal’s self-serving actions are not in the best interests of artists, songwriters and fans.”

All music licensed by UMG will be removed from TikTok in the coming days, starting Jan. 31.

TikTok has taken more punches than Rocky Balboa. Formed through the 2018 merger with musical.ly, TikTok has entered the ring with the U.S.’s NMPA, APRA AMCOS, ARIA and even former U.S. president Donald Trump’s administration.

Currently, TikTok has agreements in place with the remaining two majors, Warner Music and Sony Music, and with independent labels through an arrangement with the indie rights agency Merlin, struck in 2020.

Read the full TikTok response below.

TikTok statement in response to Universal Music Group

It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.

Despite Universal’s false narrative and rhetoric, the fact is they have chosen to walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent.

TikTok has been able to reach ‘artist-first’ agreements with every other label and publisher.

Clearly, Universal’s self-serving actions are not in the best interests of artists, songwriters and fans.

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