More Songs Disappear From TikTok as Standoff Extends to Universal Music Publishing Group

The standoff between TikTok and Universal Music Group expanded to the major label behemoth’s publishing arm today, Variety reports. After UMG severed ties with the platform last month, Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) will now start culling its “Anglo-American” repertoire from the platform, according to Variety, potentially affecting the likes of Taylor Swift, Adele, SZA, and the Weekend.

The development stems from failed negotiations to renew the two companies’ licensing agreement before its expiry on January 31. At that point, TikToks with UMG-owned music had to be muted or removed. Where the first wave brought down songs from UMG-owned giants such as EMI, Def Jam, and Virgin Music Group, the publishing arm encompasses a much broader artist repertoire; UMPG sources estimated that the company has some stake in most songs on TikTok, while TikTok sources put the share between 20 and 30 percent, according to Variety. It is unclear whether UMPG intends to pull every song in which it has any stake at all, and whether it would be able to do so.

In a competing statement, Universal Music Publishing Group said:

TikTok is removing UMPG songs because there is no license in place. As you may have heard, to date, they have not agreed to recognize the fair value of your songs, which so many other digital partners around the world have done.

As we previously addressed in our open letter, in addition to fair compensation for your songs, the negotiations have also focused on two other critical and equally important issues: protecting you, human artists and songwriters, from the harmful effects of AI; and online safety for TikTok’s users, including your fans which include young children.

TikTok’s intentions with respect to AI are increasingly apparent. While refusing to respond to our concerns about AI depriving songwriters from fair compensation, or provide assurances that they will not train their AI models on your songs, recent media reports reveal “TikTok and ByteDance leaders have long wanted to move the app beyond music.” Reflecting on our open letter, other commentators have noted where this distancing from the music industry could lead, fueled by AI: “TikTok has an incentive to push the use of these AI recordings rather than the copyrighted and licensed recordings.”

Every indication is that they simply do not value your music.

We understand the disruption is difficult for some of you and your careers, and we are sensitive to how this may affect you around the world. We recognize that this might be uncomfortable at the moment. But it is critical for the sustained future value, safety and health of the entire music ecosystem, including all music fans.

As always, UMPG will only support partners that value songwriters, artists and your songs. We have a long history of successfully fighting for our songwriters and will continue to do so. You should expect nothing less from us.

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Source : Pitchfork