The Brag Media
News May 2, 2024

Universal Music Group and TikTok Unveil New Licensing Agreement

Senior Journalist, B2B
Universal Music Group and TikTok Unveil New Licensing Agreement

After a breakdown in negotiations, an extraordinary war of words, and Universal Music Group threatening — then pulling — its content from TikTok, both parties have settled matters with a new licensing deal.

Announced late Wednesday, May 1, out of Los Angeles, UMG says the new agreement will return the music giant’s content to TikTok’s billion-plus global community, and deliver “significant industry-leading benefits” for the company and its creators.

Terms weren’t disclosed, though the leaders of UMG and TikTok both declare the pact a win for everyone.

“This new chapter in our relationship with TikTok focuses on the value of music, the primacy of human artistry and the welfare of the creative community,” says Lucian Grainge, chairman and CEO, Universal Music Group. “We look forward to collaborating with the team at TikTok to further the interests of our artists and songwriters and drive innovation in fan engagement while advancing social music monetization.”

Shou Chew, CEO of TikTok, adds: “Music is an integral part of the TikTok ecosystem and we are pleased to have found a path forward with Universal Music Group. We are committed to working together to drive value, discovery and promotion for all of UMG’s amazing artists and songwriters, and deepen their ability to grow, connect and engage with the TikTok community.”

It’s an impressive turnaround in relations for the Bytedance-owned social platform and its content partner that was so frosty in the early part of this year, there appeared to be little to no chance of a working partnership.


UMG’s previous licensing agreement covering TikTok and its branded premium platform TikTok Music (which launched in Australia last year) expired Jan. 31, with no new agreement to replace it.

With no deal in place, or looking likely to be inked, TikTok users would no longer have access to recordings controlled by UMG (estimated at 3 million works) or to songs whose rights are represented by its publishing arm (around 4 million songs).

UMG went on the offensive, blasting TikTok for trying to undercut creators, failing to keep its networks free of bogus content and its users safe, and using bully tactics and intimidation at the negotiating table.

TikTok responded by saying that, “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.”

And with that, UMG’s content was promptly scrubbed from TikTok’s networks.

All that bad juju, it would seem, is in the past.

Through the new agreement, both sides will work together “to realize new monetization opportunities utilizing TikTok’s growing e-commerce capabilities” and on campaigns supporting UMG’s artists, and they will join forces to ensure AI developments in the music space doesn’t hurt creatives – a pledge that addresses a sore-point in that earlier, public fallout.

Also, TikTok will continue to invest “significant” resources into building artist-centric tools that will help UMG artists.

“We are delighted to welcome UMG and UMPG back to TikTok,” notes Ole Obermann, TikTok’s global head of music business development. “We look forward to working together to forge a path that creates deeper connections between artists, creators, and fans.”

Michael Nash, chief digital officer and EVP, Universal Music Group, chimes in: “We’re gratified to renew our relationship with TikTok predicated on significant advancements in commercial and marketing opportunities as well as protections provided to our industry-leading roster on their platform.”

The statement, issued by UMG, points out that both parties are “working expeditiously” to return music by artists represented by UMG and songwriters represented by UMPG to TikTok “in due course.”


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