TikTok’s Rights Stand-Off with Universal Music Could See More Tracks Pulled From the App

The fallout from TikTok’s failure to reach a new licensing agreement with Universal Music continues, with Universal now pushing to have all tracks on which its artists have even contributed pulled from the app.

As reported by BBC, after TikTok already muting all Universal artists’ tracks in the wake of the licensing dispute, it may also now have to also remove a heap more songs that include input from Universal-signed performers.   

As per BBC:

This means that videos featuring songs by artists such as Harry Styles and Adele, who have written with Universal-signed artists, could soon be muted. TikTok says up to 30% of what it calls “popular songs” could be lost.”

But it might actually be even worse than that, with some industry insiders suggesting that this next level of the TikTok-Universal dispute could see up to 80% of all music in the shut down, due to varying contributions and “split copyright” with Universal artists.

Which would be a devastating blow for the app, especially given its efforts to capitalize on its connection to the music industry.

In recent years, TikTok has become a key link between musicians and their fans, with up to 75% of TikTok users indicating that they now find new artists via TikTok clips.

That, in turn, has made TikTok a critical consideration for record labels looking to showcase their artists and tracks. The platform has already sparked new careersrejuvenated older ones, and even now has some artists changing the names of their songs to better align with in-app trends.

Late last year, TikTok even went so far as to host its first-ever live music festival, solidifying its music industry presence. But now, with more music being removed as a result of its contractual issues, that could see it lose ground to YouTube Shorts and Instagram instead, where people can engage with the latest music trends.

The core of the dispute seems to be a debate over which is more valuable, TikTok as a promotional platform, or Universal, as a provider of top music content. With both sides feeling that they have the upper hand in negotiations, that’s left each at a stalemate, which, you would assume (given the money on the live) will eventually get resolved.

But it hasn’t yet, and with Universal upping the ante, that does seem to suggest that the two sides aren’t yet close to a new deal.

Though maybe this is another nudge in that direction, and maybe this will all be resolved by next week, and it’ll be a non-issue in the long run. But it is a concern, which could highlight just how reliant TikTok and Universal are on each other for promotion and usage.

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