February 8, 2021

Universal Music Group and Triller trade barbs after catalogue is pulled

Universal Music Group and Triller trade barbs after catalogue is pulled

Universal Music Group and Triller were firing back and forth at each other over the weekend. Universal, the world’s largest record company, fired the first shot when it pulled its catalogue from the US-based short-form video platform.

It said in a statement: “We will not work with platforms that do not value artists. Triller has shamefully withheld payments owed to our artists and refuses to negotiate a license going forward.

“We have no alternative except to remove our music from Triller, effective immediately.”

That means the loss of acts like Taylor Swift, Post Malone, Pop Smoke, Juice WRLD, Rihanna, Billie Eilish, Nas and Lil Baby, which are popularly used on the platform by Triller’s claimed 65 million users.

All three major music companies are believed to own minority stakes in Triller.

Triller fired back: “We can confirm our deal with UMG expired approximately one week ago. We have been negotiating since then in an attempt to renew. The renewal however was just a formality and a courtesy to UMG, as a shareholder of Triller.

“Triller does not need a deal with UMG to continue operating as it has been since the relevant artists are already shareholders or partners on Triller, and thus can authorise their usage directly. Triller has no use for a licensing deal with UMG.”

The short-form video platform went on to say: “We categorically deny we have withheld any artist payments (our deal has only been one week expired) and if anything, it is UMG using their artist names as a front to extract ridiculous and non-sustainable payments for themselves and not their artists.

“They did this exact same thing to TikTok for two years and virtually every other social network.”

Triller’s statement continued: “It is unfortunate UMG decided to use the press as it’s [sic] ‘negotiating leverage’ when they realised we aren’t going to be held hostage.

“UMG is well aware any agreement was just out of respect and courtesy, not necessity. We have been operating without it and there has been no change in our business.”

UMG responded with a terse: “Triller’s statements are removed from reality.”

Triller has made some moves to license repertoire, including a retrospective deal with European songwriters and publishers represented by licensing hub ICE Services.

Late last year it was looking at going public, having secured a US$100 million funding round at a US$1.25 billion valuation, with plans to raise another US$250 million.

It paid an estimated US$50 million for rights to the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. fight last November.

It was also set for a multi-million dollar ad spend at the February 7 Super Bowl in the US, but seemingly pulled out at the last minute.