Taylor Swift’s songs pulled off TikTok by Universal in dispute over payments

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 24: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO BOOK COVERS.) Taylor Swift performs onstage during "Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour" at Allianz Parque on November 24, 2023 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management )

Taylor Swift performs during her Eras Tour at Allianz Parque in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in November 2023. Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty ImagesLondonCNN — 

Universal Music Group has pulled its music off TikTok, preventing more than 1 billion users of the platform from streaming a vast catalog of songs by Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Rihanna and other artists.

Universal said in a statement that it had decided not to renew its licensing agreement with TikTok, which expires Wednesday, because it could not secure “appropriate compensation” for its artists and songwriters. TikTok allows its users to add music to their videos.

TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, had proposed paying a “fraction” of the rate that similarly-sized social media platforms pay, Universal said.

Like other music companies, Netherlands-based Universal charges royalty fees when its songs are played on social media platforms. It also owns music by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, J Balvin and Amy Winehouse.

In this photo illustration, a TikTok App Logo seen displayed on a smartphone screen in May 2023.

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TikTok responded by saying Universal was pushing “false narrative and rhetoric” and accused the company of putting “their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.”

“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 said in a statement.

AI replacing artists?

For its part, Universal accused TikTok of “trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music.”

“As an indication of how little TikTok compensates artists and songwriters, despite its massive and growing user base, rapidly rising advertising revenue and increasing reliance on music-based content, TikTok accounts for only about 1% of our total revenue,” the music giant said.

Universal also said it had been pressing TikTok to better protect musicians from “the harmful effects” of artificial intelligence and to ensure online safety for TikTok’s users.

TikTok is allowing its platform to be “flooded” with AI-generated music, and provides users with tools to create their own AI-generated recordings, Universal said.

When pressed on these issues, TikTok has responded with “indifference, and then with intimidation”, according to Universal, by removing some of its up-and-coming artists from the platform, while keeping the music https://kerasnya.com/ of global stars.

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