Universal music artists will return to TikTok

TikTok and Universal Music Group have struck a new licensing deal, ending a three-month standoff that resulted in some pop superstars’ songs being blocked from the influential social media platform.

In a joint statement earlier Thursday, the two companies said they had agreed to a “multi-dimensional” new deal that includes “increased compensation” for Universal’s artists and songwriters, and will address the label’s concerns about the growth of artificial intelligence.

In a statement, TikTok CEO Shou Chew said music “is an integral part of the TikTok ecosystem.” Universal Music is the world’s largest music company, owning artists such as Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Drake and U2 , Universal CEO Lucian Grainge called the deal “a new chapter in our relationship with TikTok” and “focused on our relationship with TikTok.” The value of music, the primacy of human art, and the well-being of the creative community.

In an internal email sent to Universal employees seen by The New York Times, Grainge said that under the new deal, “artists and songwriters will be paid more than under our previous agreement with TikTok.”

The agreement ends the music industry’s biggest and most contentious dispute with tech platforms in years. Both companies have publicly traded accusations, and artists from across the spectrum have worried whether their careers will be harmed by not having their music on TikTok. .

But the deal also comes amid greater uncertainty for TikTok as the app could face a ban or sale in the U.S. over national security concerns over the app’s Chinese owner, ByteDance. Last month, President Biden signed a bill that would allow TikTok to continue operating in the United States if it is sold within nine months, although the company is expected to challenge the law in court.

Universal Pictures began withdrawing TikTok’s license to its music on February 1 after negotiations to renew a previous licensing agreement stalled. At the time, Universal said TikTok was “trying to coerce us into accepting a deal that is worth less than our previous deal, is well below fair market value, and does not reflect its exponential growth.”

Millions of videos featuring Universal Music – including many artists’ own official music videos – are muted on the platform. TikTok said that by withdrawing the song, Universal “put its own greed ahead of the interests of artists and songwriters.”

TikTok and Universal have since not commented on their negotiations. But the debate seemed to take a turn three weeks ago when Swift, the biggest and most influential artist on Universal’s roster, broke with the label and returned her music to TikTok ahead of the release of her latest album.

Her move may have weakened Universal’s influence. But since the ban went into effect, fans have noticed that songs from many other Universal artists, including Grande and Camila Cabello, are back, often in sped-up or slowed-down versions that fans have uploaded to the platform.

In their statements, TikTok and Universal did not provide any details about the financial terms of the deal. A statement from the two companies said they would work together to “enable new monetization opportunities” through e-commerce, with TikTok “investing significant resources” in building tools such as data analytics and ticketing.

The companies added that they were “working quickly” to bring Universal Music back to the platform. This may take several days or weeks.

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