Unmuted: TikTok and Universal Music Group End Feud, Ink New Licensing Deal

The feud between TikTok and Universal Music Group over a hostile licensing dispute has ended after the companies inked a new licensing deal, according to a joint press release.

That means UMG, which wields the world’s largest music catalog of roughly four million songs, will soon unmute those tracks on TikTok. Music by Taylor Swift, deadmau5, David Guetta, Drake, Tiësto, Olivia Rodrigo and many more will reportedly return in the next two weeks.

After UMG in late-January shared a scathing letter that castigated TikTok for mistreating its artists, hundreds of millions of videos were muted on the platform as the company removed its songs from the app en masse. The controversy gripped both the creator economy and music industry at large, leaving artists to grapple with the fallout and turn to other platforms for promotion.

One of the cornerstones of the new agreement is protection against the scourge of generative AI for artists. TikTok has committed to working with UMG to improve songwriter attribution and remove unauthorized AI-generated music from the platform, which has over a billion monthly active users. The two companies “will work together to ensure AI development across the music industry will protect human artistry and the economics that flow to those artists and songwriters,” today’s press release reads.

As part of the deal, they will also work together to establish “new monetization opportunities” and develop campaigns to support UMG’s artists by virtue of TikTok’s business model.

“This new chapter in our relationship with TikTok focuses on the value of music, the primacy of human artistry and the welfare of the creative community,” said Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group. “We look forward to collaborating with the team at TikTok to further the interests of our artists and songwriters and drive innovation in fan engagement while advancing social music monetization.”

“Music is an integral part of the TikTok ecosystem and we are pleased to have found a path forward with Universal Music Group,” added TikTok CEO Shou Chew. “We are committed to working together to drive value, discovery and promotion for all of UMG’s amazing artists and songwriters, and deepen their ability to grow, connect and engage with the TikTok community.”

UMG and TikTok are now “working expeditiously” to reinstate the former’s music on the latter’s social media platform “in due course.”

Meanwhile, the fate of TikTok hangs in the balance after President Joe Biden signed a bill that will ban the app in the U.S. unless its Chinese-owned parent company, ByteDance, sells it to an approved buyer. TikTok reportedly plans to challenge the bill in court.

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