Universal Music Accuses TikTok of Replacing Artists With AI Music


  • Music giant UMG threatens to pull its artists (Adele, Drake, etc.) from TikTok over contract dispute.
  • UMG accuses TikTok of low artist pay, AI music promotion, and “bullying” tactics.
  • TikTok refutes claims, says UMG prioritizes profits over artist discovery and boasts fair deals with other labels.

Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s biggest music label that holds rights to big artists Adele, Billie Eilish, Drake, and many others, is planning to sever ties with TikTok. 

Both companies have been in partnership since 2021. The contract, which was set to expire on January 31, 2024, allowed TikTok users to incorporate music from artists signed by UMG in their videos on the platform.

Music Giant Clashes with TikTok Over Artist Pay

However, there’s an ongoing conflict between the companies on the contract renewal, with UMG now threatening to pull its music catalogue from TikTok. 

UMG accused TikTok of bullying, sponsoring artist replacement by AI and trying to intimidate them into “conceding to a bad deal that undervalues music and shortchanges artists and songwriters.”

For the new contract, UMG alleged in an open letter published on January 30th that TikTok proposed paying its artists and songwriters a fraction of the rate paid by other major social platforms.

The music label further claimed that TikTok is sponsoring artist replacement with AI music by allowing the platform to be flooded with AI-generated recordings. It also alleged that TikTok itself is developing tools to enable, promote and encourage AI music creation.

“As our negotiations continued, TikTok attempted to bully us into accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value and not reflective of their exponential growth,” UMG wrote. 

TikTok Rebuts UMG’s Claims

TikTok later issued a response to UMG’s claims, saying the music label is putting “their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.” It rebutted the open letter as “false narrative and rhetoric,” emphasizing that their relationship wasn’t one-way. 

“The fact is they have chosen to walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent,” TikTok wrote, adding that it has been able to reach ‘artist-first’ agreements with every other label and publisher.

Music is central to TikTok as a platform. Even the company’s executives have admitted that “music is at the heart of the TikTok experience.” With a large catalogue of music from renowned artists, it remains to be seen what impact the situation will have on the TikTok experience and if both parties will later advance their negotiations. 

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Ibiam Wayas

Ibiam is an optimistic crypto journalist. Five years from now, he sees himself establishing a unique crypto media outlet that will breach the gap between the crypto world and the general public. He loves to associate with like-minded individuals and collaborate with them on similar projects. He spends much of his time honing his writing and critical thinking skills.

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