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Nothing is going well between TikTok and Universal Music: what is happening ?

© Unsplash/Solen Feyissa/Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Naps, The Cranberries, Indila, Lana Del Rey, Ariana Grande, Joe Hisaishi, Mariah Carey, Billie Eilish and Olivia Rodrigo are only a (small) part of the artists signed by Universal Music Group. Although music is at the heart of the experience offered by TikTok, the Universal Music Group label has just announced the withdrawal of music from (all) its artists on the social network.

So, it's the end of TikTok trends against the backdrop of Cruel Summer by Taylor Swift or What Was I Made For ? by Billie Eilish. There are many Universal Music Group artists and this news should leave a void on TikTok. Much to the chagrin of users of the Chinese application. But what happens for the two giants to reach these ends ?

A problem with remuneration of artists and AI

The contract established between Universal Music Group and TikTok in 2021 expired this Wednesday, January 31, 2024. By Consequently, the two giants were in full negotiations to set up a new contract and continue their fruitful collaboration. Unfortunately, Universal Music Group seems outraged by TikTok's proposals. Failing to find common ground, the label sees only one solution: leave TikTok.

According to Universal Music Group, TikTok does not want to “pay fair value for music”. Which is the height for a company that is based so much on music. ByteDance's social network allegedly tried to intimidate Universal Music Group into accepting a deal worth less than the previously signed deal, “well below fair market value and not reflecting their exponential growth”. The rate proposed by TikTok would, again according to Universal, “only a fraction of the rate paid by the main platforms in a similar situation”.

For its part, TikTok is not holding back either. The social network regrets the fact that Universal Music Group chose “its own greed before the interests of its artists”.

The remuneration of artists and composers was at the heart of the debates, of course, but not only that. Universal Music Group is worried about artificial intelligence. More specifically, the group accuses TikTok of promoting the replacement of artists by artificial intelligence. Indeed, the social network is full of sounds generated by artificial intelligence. Worse, TikTok has actually developed tools so that users can have fun generating music themselves using AI.

But ultimately, who can afford such a decision? Indeed, if Universal Music Group removes the music of its many artists from TikTok, the social network will suffer. Difficult, therefore, to give up on artists as popular as Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo or even Ariana Grande.

However, the move could also put Universal Music Group in trouble. If the music label claims that TikTok is the source of only 1% of its total turnover, we must not forget that a social network like TikTok allows music to return to the forefront of years later, like Murder on the Dancefloor thanks to Saltburn, to popularize new titles of already popular artists, relying on an often very effective hammering, or to discover more “niche” artists.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116