Your favorite songs will return to TikTok as Universal settles royalty dispute

TikTok has agreed to improve royalties for UMG artists and to remove unauthorized AI copies.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
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TikTok and Universal Music Group have ended a three-month dispute, meaning songs from the world's biggest music label will soon be available again on the social media platform.

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Trouble arose in late January when UMG and TikTok failed to reach an agreement over two main issues: how TikTok handles royalties for UMG-owned songs in the app and how TikTok controls unauthorized AI reproduction of famous voices. TikTok countered and blamed UMG, saying the label put "their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters...TikTok has been able to reach 'artist-first' agreements with every other label and publisher."

As a result, UMG pulled its music from TikTok, which muted millions of videos.

The list of removed songs included titles from some of the biggest names in music: Taylor Swift, Drake, Billie Eilish, Bad Bunny, Harry Styles, U2, Coldplay, and more.

The two parties have since come to an agreement that brings UMG music back to TikTok.

press release from TikTok explains that not only does the new agreement provide more money for UMG songwriters and artists, it opens the door for new monetization opportunities and aims to address generative AI concerns.

TikTok says the new monetization methods include improvements in "Add to Music App," a feature that enables users to add a song to their favorite streaming service; enhanced data and analytics; and integrated ticketing capabilities.

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In addition, TikTok will work with UMG to "protect human artistry" in regards to AI "and the economics that flow to those artists and songwriters." AI-generated content isn't going away, Ole Obermann, TikTok's global head of music business development, said, noting that the company will work to make sure it uses AI responsibly "to enable a new era of musical creativity."

TikTok, currently embroiled in a legal battle that could potentially see the app banned in the US, says it is committing to removing unauthorized AI-generated music from its platform, as well as developing new tools to improve artist attribution.

As for today's deal, TikTok is working "expeditiously," it says, to return UMG's music to its platform.

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