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Following a failure to renew licensing agreements, Universal Music Group (UMG) withdrew all of its music from popular social media platform, TikTok on 1 February 2024. Videos that previously contained UMG music now trigger an alert informing users that the sound was removed due to copyright restrictions.

The failure to reach an agreement regarding the licensing of UMG’s music occurred despite negotiations between the two groups. In an open letter titled ‘Why We Must Call Time Out on TikTok’, UMG stated that negotiations centred around the following three core 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 multinational music corporation claimed that TikTok pays artists a small fraction of the amount offered by similar platforms and is unwilling to compromise.

UMG has described TikTok as “trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value to the music”. Despite the social media platform having over 1 billion users, only 1% of UMG’s revenue is generated from TikTok. However, the platform has proved to be a valuable marketing tool, promoting the work of UMG’s talent. Examples include artists such as Noah Kahan, Olivia Rodrigo and Doja Cat, who achieved viral success on the platform.

The impact of UMG’s unprecedented decision to withdraw from the platform is yet to be seen.

If you have any questions relating to the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniels Law on 0191 281 4000 or legal@mcdanielslaw.com.

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