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Universal Music warns TikTok that it will pull songs

Universal Music Group (UMG) has warned that it will pull its songs from TikTok, after a breakdown in talks with the social media platform over issues including the compensation of artists and songwriters.

In an open letter, Universal accused TikTok of “trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music”.

Both sides have been discussing the terms of a new agreement, with their existing contract set to expire on Wednesday.

But their deal has not been renewed.

Among the issues raised in talks were “appropriate compensation” for artists and songwriters, online safety for users, as well as the protection of artists from the harms of artificial intelligence, the letter added.

But as negotiations proceeded, Universal alleged: “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.”

Major music companies earn royalty payments from streaming and social media platforms.

Industry giant Universal said, however, that TikTok proposed paying “a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay”.

TikTok, in a statement to Reuters, referred to UMG’s narrative as “false” and said UMG’s actions were not in the best interests of artists, songwriters and fans.

Despite TikTok’s large user base, it accounts for just about one percent of Universal’s total revenue, the company added.

Universal noted other problems such as large amounts of AI-generated recordings on the platform, alongside what it called a lack of effort to deal with infringements on artists’ music.

Artists on Universal’s labels include Taylor Swift and The Weeknd.

Owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms globally, with more than one billion users.

Source: AFP, Reuters

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