Universal to Yank Music From TikTok Citing Compensation, AI and User Safety Concerns

The mega-label’s contract with the social media platform ends Jan. 31

TikTok (Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Citing concerns over compensation for artists, the use of so-called artificial intelligence software and user safety, Universal Music Group said Tuesday it will pull all of its music from TikTok when its contract with the platform expires on Jan. 31.

“In our contract renewal discussions, we have been pressing them on three critical issues—appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and online safety for TikTok’s users,” the company said in a statement published Tuesday.

UMG explained that TikTok’s proposal for artist compensation was “a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay.” As evidence of “how little TikTok compensates artists and songwriters,” UMG said the platform generates “only about 1% of our total revenue.”

“TikTok is trying to build a music-based business,” UMG continued, “without paying fair value for the music.”

UMG also accused TikTok of “allowing the platform to be flooded with AI-generated recordings,” along with “tools to enable, promote and encourage” the proliferation of those recordings, only to demand “a contractual right which would allow this content to massively dilute the royalty pool for human artists.

UMG called this “nothing short of sponsoring artist replacement by AI.”

UMG also said TikTok has offered “no meaningful solutions” to combat copyright infringement, “let alone the tidal wave of hate speech, bigotry, bullying and harassment on the platform.” The company also criticized TikTok’s “monumentally cumbersome and inefficient process” for dealing with related claims.

However, UMG continued, attempts to reconcile these issues were met “first with indifference, and then with intimidation” from TikTok.

“TikTok attempted to bully us into accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value and not reflective of their exponential growth,” UMG explained, “by selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artists, while keeping on the platform our audience-driving global stars.”

“TikTok’s tactics are obvious: Use its platform power to hurt vulnerable artists and try to intimidate us into conceding to a bad deal that undervalues music and shortchanges artists and songwriters as well as their fans,” the company added. “We will never do that.”‘

You can read the full statement here.

Representatives for TikTok didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap.


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