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More Music Faces Muting on TikTok Amid Universal Music Royalties Dispute

TikTok faces further music removals as royalties dispute with Universal Music Group intensifies. Up to 30% of "popular songs" could be lost, with estimates suggesting up to 80% of all music on TikTok may be muted. Dispute extends beyond Universal Music artists, impacting Sony, Warner, and independent artists.

TikTok, the popular social media app, is facing further music removals from its platform as the ongoing dispute over royalties with Universal Music Group (UMG) escalates. While the app has already silenced songs by artists signed to the label, it is now extending the muting to include writers as well. This means that videos featuring songs written by Universal-signed artists, including popular names like Harry Styles and Adele, could soon be muted.


According to TikTok, up to 30% of what it considers "popular songs" could be lost due to this dispute. However, industry estimates suggest that the number could be as high as 80% of all music on the platform. This is due to the concept of "split copyrights," where even a small contribution from a songwriter signed to Universal Music's publishing arm could result in the removal of the entire recording.


The impact of this dispute extends beyond Universal Music artists. Songs by artists signed to other major labels like Sony and Warner, as well as hundreds of independent artists, could also be affected. Earlier this year, Universal's music catalog, consisting of around three million songs, was removed from TikTok after the license agreement expired. Now, with the publishing catalog deal set to expire at the end of the week, an additional four million songs are expected to be pulled from the platform.


Universal Music Group has accused TikTok of "bullying" them by offering to pay a significantly lower rate compared to other platforms. UMG claims that only 1% of their total revenue comes from TikTok, despite the app having over one billion users. TikTok, on the other hand, has dismissed Universal's claims as a "false narrative and rhetoric."


Music plays a significant role in the appeal of TikTok, with content creators often incorporating songs into their videos. The app has also become a valuable tool for artists to gain popularity and have their music heard. In fact, there is even a TikTok Billboard top 50 chart in the US, which is determined by user engagement.


The dispute over royalties raises concerns for artists who have built a fanbase on TikTok before signing with major labels. There are worries that they may no longer be able to fully capitalise on their following if their music is muted on the platform. Cody Fry, an artist signed to a UMG-owned record label, expressed his frustration in a TikTok video, feeling caught between two colliding planets as his track went viral in China just as the licensing agreement was expiring. He believes that TikTok should value music more and hopes that the two companies can resolve their differences without negatively impacting artists.


While some artists, like Kim Petras, whose music has been muted on TikTok, support Universal's stance, others are concerned about the potential consequences for artists on the ground. Petras expressed her support for Universal, acknowledging the challenges faced by artists in the industry. She believes that although Universal artists may face difficulties in the short term, the intentions behind the label's actions are noble.


As the dispute between TikTok and Universal Music Group continues, the future of music on the platform remains uncertain. Artists, content creators, and fans alike are closely watching the developments, hoping for a resolution that benefits all parties involved.

 
  • TikTok faces further music removals as royalties dispute with Universal Music Group intensifies.

  • Up to 30% of "popular songs" could be lost, with estimates suggesting up to 80% of all music on TikTok may be muted.

  • Dispute extends beyond Universal Music artists, impacting Sony, Warner, and independent artists.


Source: BBC

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