TikTok users lose access to Swift, Eilish songs, Latest Music News - The New Paper

TikTok users lose access to Swift, Eilish songs

LOS ANGELES – TikTok users will no longer be able to create videos with songs from Taylor Swift, Jon Batiste, Boygenius and other Universal Music Group artistes as the soundtrack, as contract negotiations between the two companies have collapsed.

TikTok’s access to Universal’s expansive roster of artistes ended on Jan 31, after months of negotiations failed to yield a new agreement with the world’s largest music company. TikTok has begun muting short videos featuring the label’s artistes.

The high-profile dispute erupted as the music industry executives and artistes gathered in Los Angeles for the Grammy award ceremony on Feb 4.

“Our agreements with TikTok have expired because of TikTok’s unwillingness to appropriately compensate artistes and songwriters, protect human artistes from the harmful effects of AI, and address online safety issues for TikTok’s users,” a Universal spokesman said in a statement on Feb 1.

The label is asking TikTok to compensate artistes a rate commensurate with what other social media platforms pay. Now, it accounts for only 1 per cent of total revenue – though music is a core part of the experience on the app, Universal Music said in an open letter published on Jan 30.

Universal Music also said TikTok is allowing the platform to be “flooded” with recordings generated by artificial intelligence (AI), which dilutes the royalty pool for artistes.

It also raised concerns about “problematic content”, such as sexualised images of singer Billie Eilish, which reportedly went viral and were seen by millions of people before it was removed for violating community guidelines.

TikTok declined comment on Feb 1.

In an earlier statement, TikTok said Universal Music put “greed above the interests of their artistes and songwriters”. The social video platform said the music label is walking away from its powerful promotional platform that reaches more than a billion users.

“TikTok has been able to reach ‘artiste-first’ agreements with every other label and publisher,” TikTok said in its statement. “Clearly, Universal’s self-serving actions are not in the best interests of artistes, songwriters and fans.”

On Feb 1, Swift’s TikTok account, which has 24 million followers, displayed a notice that said “The music is currently unavailable.” The alert appeared under a tab that previously let users browse her songs.

TikTok published a report in November touting its role as a “launchpad for creating viral hits and breaking new artistes”.

Its Music Impact Report found that TikTok helped users discover music and connect with artistes. It also reported that its users are more likely to use a paid music streaming services, creating value for the artistes.

“Even though TikTok (formerly Musical.ly) has built one of the world’s largest and most valuable social media platforms off the backs of artistes and songwriters, TikTok still argues that artistes should be grateful for the ‘free promotion’,” Universal said.

Wall Street analysts praised Universal for the move.