UMPG tells its songwriters that TikTok does not 'recognise the fair value of your songs'

UMPG tells its songwriters that TikTok does not 'recognise the fair value of your songs'

Universal Music Group CEO & chairman Sir Lucian Grainge spoke out on the TikTok licensing dispute this week, as songs controlled by UMPG started to be removed from the platform.

Based on Sir Lucian’s comments outlining UMG’s concerns about remuneration, online safety and AI, there’s no likelihood of a rapprochement with TikTok any time soon.

UMG recordings repertoire was removed last month. When it comes to Universal Music Publishing Group’s Anglo-American repertoire, the cut-off date under the terms of the licence was the end of February.

Sure enough, UMPG-controlled songs have been coming down in recent days. Crucially, that also affects artists signed to non-UMG labels who collaborate with UMPG songwriters, which draws the wider music industry into the dispute. 

UMPG is widely acknowledged as the No.2 music publisher globally and it represents a vast catalogue of songs, including artists and songwriters such as Adele, Jack Antonoff, Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, Lana Del Rey, Kid Harpoon, Ice Spice, Elton John/Bernie Taupin, Lorde, Demi Lovato, Metallica, Metro Boomin, Miguel, Britney Spears, Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, SZA, Justin Timberlake, The Weeknd, and many more.

UMPG has issued a statement to its songwriters to explain the situation. 

“TikTok is removing UMPG songs because there is no licence in place,” said the publisher. “As you may have heard, to date, they have not agreed to recognise the fair value of your songs, which so many other digital partners around the world have done. 

“As we previously addressed in our open letter, in addition to fair compensation for your songs, the negotiations have also focused on two other critical and equally important issues: protecting you, human artists and songwriters, from the harmful effects of AI; and online safety for TikTok’s users, including your fans which include young children.”

In an earlier statement as songs started to be removed, TikTok said: “We are in the process of carrying out Universal Music Group's requirement to remove all songs that have been written (or co-written) by a songwriter signed to Universal Music Publishing Group, based on information they have provided. Their actions not only affect the songwriters and artists that they represent, but now also impact many artists and songwriters not signed to Universal.

“We remain committed to reaching an equitable agreement with Universal Music Group. In the meantime, music lovers can continue to enjoy, discover and share millions of tracks from artists, songwriters and labels on TikTok, and we will continue to connect all artists – including those whose music is not currently available on our platform – with their fans.”

We have a long history of successfully fighting for our songwriters and will continue to do so


The UMPG statement to its songwriters addresses concerns over AI depriving songwriters from fair compensation, as well as the lack of assurances that “they will not train their AI models on your songs”.

“Every indication is that they simply do not value your music,” added the UMPG statement.  

“We understand the disruption is difficult for some of you and your careers, and we are sensitive to how this may affect you around the world. We recognise that this might be uncomfortable at the moment. But it is critical for the sustained future value, safety and health of the entire music ecosystem, including all music fans.

“As always, UMPG will only support partners that value songwriters, artists and your songs. We have a long history of successfully fighting for our songwriters and will continue to do so. You should expect nothing less from us.”


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