Taylor Swift, BTS Music Prepare to Leave TikTok as UMG Talks Collapse – Billboard

Universal Music Group (UMG) said it will pull its entire music catalog from TikTok when its contract with the service expires on Wednesday (January 31), accusing the platform of “trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for” the music, according to the company. new Open letter.

In the letter, released on Tuesday (Jan. 30) and addressed to UMG artists and songwriters, the company said it was particularly concerned about the prices TikTok is offering to pay for its catalog. Other points of contention include the amount of content on TikTok that infringes on the works of artists and songwriters without offering “meaningful solutions” to help them combat it, the level of hate and harassment on the platform and TikTok's stances on artificial intelligence (AI). .

“On the issue of artist and songwriter compensation, TikTok has proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that major social media platforms pay in the same situation,” the letter said.

Also according to UMG, during negotiations, the ByteDance-owned social giant demanded “a contractual right that would allow… [AI] Content to significantly ease the pool of royalties for human artists while “developing tools to enable, enhance and encourage AI music creation on the platform itself,” which UMG says is “nothing less than sponsoring artist replacement with AI.”

In the letter, UMG went on to claim that when it suggested TikTok take “similar steps as our other platform partners to try to address these issues, it responded first with indifference, then with intimidation.”

“As our negotiations continued, TikTok attempted to force us to accept a deal that was worth less than the previous deal, far below fair market value and not reflective of its accelerated growth,” the letter added. “How did he try to intimidate us? By selectively removing the music of some of our emerging artists, while keeping our global stars who attract audiences on the platform.

If UMG withdraws its catalog, it will affect all music distributed and managed by its recorded music division as well as Universal Music Publishing Group. The company's roster includes stars such as Taylor Swift, BTS, Drake, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, Billie Eilish, Eminem, Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, Karol G, and Post Malone.

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TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

UMG's last deal with TikTok to license both recorded music and publishing was announced on February 8, 2021. In July, WMG signed a multi-year licensing agreement with TikTok that allows the company to use WMG's music in its app as well. Such as CapCut and the new “social streaming platform” TikTok Music, currently available in Brazil, Indonesia, Australia, Singapore and Mexico. At the time of the deal announcement, he was CEO/Chairman of WMG Robert Kinkel And CEO of TikTok Shu Qiu He said the agreement would benefit artists.

This isn't the first time the music industry has had issues with TikTok. In 2019, when the platform was just getting started, the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) called on Congress to investigate TikTok for possible copyright theft. It was also reported around that time that TikTok was working on expiring deal extensions that had been rolled over since its acquisition of Musical.ly in late 2017. In March 2020, painting It was reported that the big three companies have struck short-term licensing deals with TikTok.

Read the full open letter below.

Our core mission is simple: to help our artists and songwriters realize their greatest creative and commercial potential. To achieve these goals, our teams use their experience and passion to close deals with partners around the world, partners who take seriously their responsibilities to compensate our artists and songwriters fairly and treat the user experience with respect.

One of these partners is TikTok, an increasingly influential platform with powerful technology and a huge global user base. As with many of the other platforms we partner with, TikTok's success as one of the world's largest social platforms is largely based on the music created by our artists and songwriters. Its top executives proudly publicly state that “music is at the core of the TikTok experience” and our analysis confirms that the majority of content on TikTok contains music, more than any other major social platform.

The terms of our relationship with TikTok are determined by a contract that expires on January 31, 2024. In our discussions to renew the contract, we pressed them on three critical issues: adequate compensation for our artists and songwriters, and protecting human artists from harmful influences. Artificial Intelligence and Online Safety for TikTok Users.

We have been working to address these and related issues with our other platform partners. For example, our artist-focused initiative is designed to modernize the streaming rewards model and better reward artists for the value they bring to platforms. In the months since its inception, we are proud that this initiative has been so positively received and taken up by a range of partners, including the world's largest music platform. We have also moved aggressively to embrace the promise of AI as we fight to ensure that artists' rights and interests are protected now and in the future. Additionally, we have engaged a number of our platform partners to try and make a positive difference for their users and in turn our artists, by tackling online safety issues, and we are recognized as an industry leader in focusing on the broader impact of music on health and wellness.

On the issue of artist and songwriter compensation, TikTok has proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate paid by major social media platforms with similar positions. Today, as a testament to how little TikTok compensates artists and songwriters, despite our massive and growing user base, rapidly rising advertising revenues and increasing reliance on music-based content, TikTok represents only about 1% of our total revenue.

Ultimately, TikTok is trying to build a business based on music, without paying fair value for the music.

In terms of AI, TikTok is allowing the platform to be flooded with AI-generated recordings — as well as developing tools to enable, promote, and encourage AI music creation on the platform itself — and then claiming a contractual right that would allow that content to be broadly moderated. Complex royalties for human artists, in a step no less than sponsoring the replacement of the artist with artificial intelligence.

Furthermore, TikTok makes little effort to address the massive amounts of content on its platform that infringes on our artists' music, and has offered no meaningful solutions to the growing wave of adjacent content issues, let alone the tidal wave of hate speech, bigotry, intolerance, and violence. Bullying and harassment on the platform. The only means available to seek removal of infringing or problematic content (such as deep porn images of artists) is through a cumbersome and largely inefficient process that is the digital equivalent of a “Whack-a-Mole.”

But when we suggested that TikTok take similar steps as our other platform partners to try to address these issues, it responded first with indifference, then with intimidation.

As our negotiations continued, TikTok tried to force us to accept a deal that was worth less than the previous deal, far below fair market value and not reflective of its explosive growth. How did he try to scare us? By selectively removing the music of some of our emerging artists, while keeping the global stars who attract audiences on the platform.

TikTok's tactics are clear: use the power of its platform to hurt vulnerable artists and try to intimidate us into giving up a bad deal that devalues ​​music and shortchanges artists and songwriters as well as their fans.

We will never do that

We will always fight for our artists and songwriters and defend the creative and commercial value of music.

We recognize the challenges that TikTok's actions will cause, and we do not underestimate what it will mean for our artists and their fans who, unfortunately, will be among those who will suffer the near-term consequences of TikTok's unwillingness to hit anything close to the market. Evaluate the deal and address its obligations meaningfully as a social platform. But we have a major responsibility to our artists to fight for a new agreement whereby they are adequately compensated for their work, on a platform that respects human creativity, in an environment that is safe for all, and subject to effective supervision.

We respect our responsibilities very seriously. Intimidation and threats will never cause us to shirk those responsibilities.

(This is a developing story.)

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