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TikTok renews deal, brings back Taylor Swift, Drake songs

  • TikTok renews deal, restoring popular songs by renowned artists
  • Agreement follows negotiations over royalties, AI usage, and user safety
  • TikTok remains a crucial music discovery platform for Gen Z

TikTokers, the return of their favourite songs is finally here.  

A new licensing agreement between TikTok and Universal Music Group (UMG) will reinstate the songs and artists of the record label on the social media platform. 

This includes compositions by The Weeknd, Taylor Swift, and Drake, among others.  

Ole Obermann, the Global Head of Music Business Development for TikTok, expressed his anticipation for the collaborative effort in establishing a pathway that fosters more profound relationships among creators, followers, and artists.  

“Specifically, we will collaborate to safeguard human creativity while ensuring the responsible development of AI tools that facilitate fan engagement and usher in a new era of musical innovation.” 

TikTok initiated the process of removing Universal’s content from its application after the expiration of its licensing agreement in January. The two parties were unable to arrive at a consensus regarding royalties to composers and artists, safeguards against artificial intelligence (AI), and online user safety. 

For the music industry, the brief video application is a valuable marketing and promotional tool.  

TikTok is the most popular music discovery platform among 16- to 19-year-olds in the United States, surpassing YouTube and music streaming services like Spotify, according to Midia Research. 

“Around a quarter of U.S. consumers claim to listen to songs they have heard on TikTok,” according to senior music industry analyst at Midia, Tatiana Cirisano. 

However, Universal Music asserts that the compensation it receives from its artists and composers is significantly lower than that which it obtains from other prominent social media platforms. 

TikTok, according to the record label, contributes 1% of its yearly earnings, or approximately $110 million in 2023.  

According to Midia, YouTube contributed $1.8 billion from user-generated content to the music industry during the twelve months ending in June 2022. 

As she promoted her most recent album, ‘The Tortured Poets Department,’ Taylor Swift, one of the largest acts on Universal Music, permitted a selection of her songs to return to TikTok. This action may have diminished the label’s negotiating leverage. 

The Financial Times reports that Swift, through her 2018 contract with Universal, possesses the copyrights to her recordings and can regulate the distribution of her compositions. 

In recent weeks, since licensing negotiations have resumed, AI has remained a significant source of contention.  

TikTok, according to Universal, is “overrun” with AI-generated recordings, including those that users compose using the AI composition tools available on the platform.

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TikTok has maintained that royalty payments should be extended to AI-generated works. Universal, on the other hand, opposes this stance, arguing that it would reduce the funds allocated for compensating human performers and composers. 

Growing concerns exist within the creative community regarding AI.  

The Artist Rights Alliance, a non-profit organization, issued an open letter in April imploring the responsible application of the technology.  

A coalition comprising over 200 musicians and composers issued a demand to technology companies and digital music services to refrain from implementing artificial intelligence in a manner that would “subvert, supplant, or fail to compensate us fairly for the labor of songwriters and artists.” 

As concerns surround TikTok’s long-term viability in the United States, an agreement was reached. Legislation enacted by President Joe Biden last week grants ByteDance, the Chinese proprietor of TikTok, 270 days to divest its assets in the United States. 

TikTok has threatened legal action in opposition to the legislation, which it refers to as a ban

According to TikTok, over 170 million Americans utilize its video service.  

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