TikTok Expands Deal With Universal Music Group to Benefit Artists


TikTok is expanding upon its already existing collaboration with Universal Music Group (UMG), with a deal that benefits recording artists and songwriters.

TikTok and UMG’s “Expanded Global Alliance”

Together, they announced the formation of a new “expanded global alliance” this week. They hope the agreement will promote the development of “new innovative experiences” that benefit both TikTok users and UMG’s recording artists.

For better or for worse, online influencers are a huge driving force these days. TikTok itself has proven itself to be wildly important to the music industry. I mean, if a song blows up on the app, you’ll likely find it on the charts next. And this deal between TikTok and UMG proves that the music industry is recognizing that.

This new move to expand the companies’ existing relationship is a smart one. It means that TikTok users will now have access to UMG’s full global catalog of music, covering recorded music from UMG artists and songwriters with Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG). 

The Deal Will Benefit Artists and Songwriters

But perhaps more importantly, the agreement is meant to help deliver “equitable compensation for recording artists and songwriters.” TikTok and UMG are also hoping to develop “innovative experiences,” in an effort to help UMG artists connect more effectively with their audiences on TikTok.

“We are excited to enter this new era with UMG and UMPG to continue supporting artists and songwriters, by working together to help reach music fans on TikTok,” reads a statement from Ole Obermann, Global Head of Music for TikTok.

“Our platform has been a driver in creating chart hits and licensing the world’s biggest catalog of tracks will continue to inspire our community. In turn, we are proud to partner with UMG and UMPG to be a source to help new talent emerge and to re-introduce legacy acts to a new audience.”

This isn’t TikTok’s first deal with the music industry. Just in the last year, they have hammered out agreements with Sony Music, Warner Music Group, and Merlin. That means that TikTok has deals with just about all popular music available out there.

UMG Is Pulling Its Catalog From Triller

On the flip side, it doesn’t look like it’s going as well for TikTok’s rival, Triller.

UMG pulled its catalog from the platform. A spokesperson issued this statement: “We will not work with platforms that do not value artists. Triller has shamefully withheld payments owed to our artists and refuses to negotiate a license going forward. We have no alternative except to remove our music from Triller, effective immediately.”

Triller CEO Mike Lu was apparently blindsided by the UMG statement. He told Billboard, “This has to be a bad Punk’d episode. I’m waiting for Ashton to jump out of my closet.”

Lu went on to explain, “Our relationship with UMG is solid. Its biggest artists are investors and partners in Triller and Universal owns part of Triller. We find it hard to believe UMG wouldn’t give us any warning or notice but just tell us via press.”

Triller and UMG had reached a licensing agreement in 2018, giving Triller users access to UMG’s entire catalog. That agreement has expired, as confirmed by a Triller spokesperson.

However, the statement issued by that spokesperson also claims that “Triller does not need a deal with UMG to continue operating as it has been.”

They claim that because “relevant artists are already shareholders or partners on Triller,” those artists can authorize their usage directly. Therefore, “Triller has no use for a licensing deal with UMG.”