Universal Music Group (UMG) said it will discontinue licensing its music to TikTok on Wednesday.
In a blistering open letter, UMG, one of the world’s major music firms, accused TikTok of seeking to “bully” and “intimidate” them into accepting a deal worth less than the previous one, and not reflecting their exponential development.
In a letter dated January 30 and addressed to the “artiste and songwriter community,” UMG revealed that discussions for a new contract with TikTok had concluded without an agreement. It also stated that the deal, which expired on January 31, will not be renewed.
The music company stated that it was unable to secure new contract terms with TikTok due to reasons such as “higher compensation for its artistes and songwriters, protection against AI-generated recordings, and online safety issues for users”.
UMG said that TikTok proposed paying its artists “a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay,” and that the service “has offered no meaningful solutions” to content issues such as “bullying, bigotry, and harassment, including pornographic deepfakes of artistes”.
The music label said that the streaming giants attempted to “intimidate” them “by selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artistes” while maintaining their top stars on the site.
Streaming companies criticized UMG for prioritizing their own interests over those of their artists and creators.
TikTok, which is controlled by Chinese internet company ByteDance, has accused UMG of pushing “false narratives and rhetoric”.
The issue between the two corporations might impact TikTok’s 1 billion users and UMG’s global musicians and songwriters.
Drake, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Adele, U2, and Elton John are among the most successful artists signed to UMG labels. Others include Nigerian entertainers such as Mr. Eazi, Tekno, Larry Gaaga, and Tiwa Savage.
If the two firms are unable to strike an agreement, these artists’ music will be unavailable for use in social media videos. Also, thousands of existing videos featuring those tracks may be muted.
Tiwa Savage’s partnership with UMG expanded her reach to 60+ countries in 2019.
She stated that joining the music group “provides an opportunity for Afrobeats songs to thrive alongside other international genres of music.”