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Universal Music vs. TikTok: The Royalty Battle Intensifies

Remember all those awesome songs you use for your TikTok videos? Well, Universal Music Group, one of the biggest music companies out there, is having a serious beef with TikTok about how those songs get used. It's down to the nitty-gritty – money, deals, and who controls the music.


The Initial Standoff

This whole situation started back in 2024 when Universal Music yanked all their songs from TikTok. Why? Because TikTok wouldn't pay what they thought was fair to use the music, and their contract ended in January. Initially, the removal affected recordings owned or distributed by UMG. However, the conflict has now escalated to include a broader range of songs, specifically those published by the company itself.

The Impact

The fallout from this battle extends far and wide. Artists and songwriters associated with UMG find themselves caught in the crossfire. TikTok videos featuring UMG-published songs must either be removed or have their music muted. The situation is complex, as it involves a vast number of recordings not directly issued by UMG-owned labels. Additionally, collaborations between artists and songwriters under contract to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) face similar challenges.

The Artists and Songwriters

Think big names in music? UMPG has them covered! From Adele and Justin Bieber to Mariah Carey, Elton John, and Metallica, they have a songwriting dream team. With such a diverse stable of creators, the impact of this dispute remains uncertain. How many hit songs will be affected? Where will the line be drawn when determining whether a song falls under UMPG's control?

Differing Perspectives

Opinions diverge sharply. Sources close to UMG assert that the company has a stake in the majority of songs on TikTok. Conversely, insiders aligned with TikTok contend that the impact is smaller, estimating UMPG's influence at 20% to 30%. Remarkably, TikTok's user base has remained steady despite the removal of UMG music earlier this month.

UMG's Demands

Back in January, UMG's big boss, Lucian Grainge, wrote a public letter outlining three key issues they were arguing about with TikTok when renewing their contract.

1. Appropriate Compensation: UMG seeks fair compensation for its artists and songwriters.
2. Human Artists vs. AI: The company aims to protect artists from the potential harm of artificial intelligence.
3. Online Safety: Ensuring the safety of TikTok's users remains a priority.


As the battle rages on, the fate of countless songs hangs in the balance. Will UMG and TikTok find common ground? Or will this dispute reshape the music industry's digital landscape? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain: the clash between these giants reverberates far beyond their boardrooms.