Universal Music threatens to pull the plug on TikTok amid "bullying" accusations

Santa Monica, California - Music by artists such as Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga could disappear from TikTok starting Thursday amid a clash with Universal Music!

Universal Music threatened to pull licensing for TikTok after it accused the platform of "bullying" and unfair dealings.
Universal Music threatened to pull licensing for TikTok after it accused the platform of "bullying" and unfair dealings.  © Collage: IMAGO / Zoonar & REUTERS

The world's largest music company announced on Tuesday that it had been unable to secure an extension to the license agreement, which expires on January 31.

In an open letter, Universal Music argued that TikTok was "trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music" and accused TikTok of "bullying" them into taking a deal "far less than fair market value and not reflective of their exponential growth."

TikTok also allows music created with the help of artificial intelligence onto the platform – and wants contractual freedom to do so. Universal Music accused TikTok of "sponsoring artist replacement by AI."

The Cavinder twins shine at the 2024 AMC Awards in stunning outfits
Cavinder twins The Cavinder twins shine at the 2024 AMC Awards in stunning outfits

It also criticized TikTok for what it considered taking little action against piracy and for having an inefficient process for removing problematic content such as fake pornographic images of artists.

TikTok did not initially respond to the allegations.

The withdrawal of licensing could be a significant blow for TikTok, as many videos on the platform have music and the company has many of the world's most popular musicians under contract.

Universal Music acknowledged that the move would have consequences for its own musicians, but argued that it has a responsibility to fight for fair conditions for them.

TikTok has more than one billion users. The service belongs to the ByteDance Group, which is based in China.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / Zoonar & REUTERS

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