For a very long time there has been a bit of a standoff between musicians and their legions of fans who'd like nothing better than to use a bit of their favorite song in their own video productions. Rights have been hard to secure and prohibitively priced to the point where most content creators just don't try obtaining them or go guerrilla and hope they don't get caught for a long time. That logjam seems to finally be breaking loose and the dammed-up river of creative content is about to become a torrent.
TikTok Universal Music Group Agreement
Recently, content platform TikTok has announced an agreement with music rights management behemoth Universal Music Group that permits TikTok users to access all, repeat: all, of UMGs content. This follows on the heels of several other agreements with firms such as Sony and Warner. Unlike notoriously-restrictive YouTube, TikTok has apparently decided to partner up with its content providers rather than rigorously police them for rights violations where everybody ends up the loser.
Musicians can now get an extra stream of revenue for their work. Content providers now have access to high-quality material to enhance the production qualities of their output, and the large corporate entities which stand on both sides of the divide now have a perfect win-win situation for their own bottom lines.
Of course the devil is always in the details, but TikTok's aggressive pursuit of access to what appears to be all music everywhere signals that it wants to be the premier place for content creators worldwide. On the face of it, it seems that creators can now access these rights virtually automatically. How the TikTok Universal full catalog arrangement provides payment with the rights holders is not clear at the moment, but it appears that they are paying for the music rights on behalf of all their users and then getting repaid out of the profits generated from viral content.
The real question now is whether other content platforms will follow TikTok's example or are already doing so. With the near-simultaneous news that UMG has pulled access from TikTok competitor Triller, there is likely to be some significant deal-making action among other industry players in the near future. The possibility of bidding wars heating up cannot be discounted either if this proves to be a highly profitable move by TikTok.
It is not beyond the realm of possibility that some content platform makes a bid for exclusive rights access in hopes of strangling its competition and forcing creators onto its platform in order to have access to the music rights they crave. That is certainly a strong factor in TikTok's own pursuit of music rights. Whether this becomes a question of everyone sharing or a zero-sum fight for supremacy remains to be seen. In any case, it's good for content creators and artists both.
Universal v. Triller - The Chess match just heated up