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TikTok and Universal Resolve Dispute with Licensing Agreement, Ending Months-Long Conflict

Photo : Reuters

TikTok and Universal Music Group (UMG) have announced a new licensing agreement, putting an end to a prolonged dispute that led to the removal of popular music from the social media platform. This agreement, disclosed in a joint statement, promises "improved remuneration" for artists and songwriters associated with UMG and aims to address concerns regarding the proliferation of AI-generated content on TikTok.

Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman of Universal, expressed enthusiasm about the agreement, stating that it marks a "new chapter" in their partnership. He emphasized its potential to drive innovation in fan engagement and propel the monetization of social music. Grainge highlighted the agreement's focus on recognizing the value of music, prioritizing human artistry, and supporting the creative community.

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TikTok's CEO, Shou Chew, echoed Grainge's sentiments, affirming their commitment to collaborating with UMG to enhance value, discovery, and promotion for the label's artists and songwriters. Chew emphasized the intention to deepen their engagement with the TikTok community.

The resolution of this dispute concludes a period of intense negotiations between the two influential entities, during which public criticisms were exchanged as each side sought leverage. Earlier this year, Universal took the drastic step of removing music from its vast publishing catalog, including tracks from high-profile artists like Taylor Swift, Drake, and Billie Eilish, from the TikTok platform. This move raised concerns about the loss of marketing opportunities for affected artists.

While the restored music will now return to TikTok, the agreement comes amid uncertainty for the platform, as it faces pressure to sever ties with its Chinese parent company ByteDance to comply with new US regulations. Despite this uncertainty, TikTok boasts a massive user base of 170 million in the United States alone.

Neither Universal nor TikTok disclosed the financial terms of the agreement. However, recent actions by Taylor Swift hint at a potential resolution, as she recently restored some of her music to the platform ahead of the release of her latest album. Swift's ability to do so may stem from her ownership of master recordings and songwriting rights, though these are administered by Universal's publishing arm.

In their joint statement, both companies pledged to expedite the return of music by UMG artists and songwriters to TikTok. This agreement signals a positive step forward for both entities, promising to restore harmony and cooperation in their relationship while benefiting artists, songwriters, and the TikTok community alike.

May 3, 2024 12:38 p.m. 6014

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