Taylor Swift's TikTok Comeback: Universal Deal

Universal and TikTok resolve dispute, enhancing artist compensation.

by Zain ul Abedin
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Taylor Swift's TikTok Comeback: Universal Deal
© Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

Universal Music Group and TikTok are back in business, with a new spirit of cooperation following a short break in their services. The parties announced that they have reached a new licensing agreement, effective immediately, which restores music from popular artists like Taylor Swift and Harry Styles to the viral social media platform.

The deal was announced on Thursday. More than just returning UMG's extensive catalog to TikTok, the new deal creates better compensation and promotional opportunities for its artists and songwriters. The partnership was revived only a few weeks after the fact that UMG pulled its music from TikTok at the beginning of February this year, some users fearing that they might lose access to tracks from the famous musicians.

That latter dispute was based around fair pay, with UMG particularly aggrieved about the prevalence of AI-generated music, which it said was devaluing artist content.

UMG-TikTok Agreement Details

In a joint presser, UMG and TikTok pointed out the major steps in the new pact that promise better remuneration for artists and strong promotional strategy.

The companies said that the deal would bring the latest technology and marketing tools of TikTok to bring best-in-class returns and promotional lift to UMG's artists and songwriters, establishing new standards for AI music management.

It comes on the heels of intense negotiations during which UMG publicly criticized TikTok for offering lower royalty payments than other platforms and for having allowed the surge in AI-generated music. UMG turned up the heat in negotiations after TikTok had been accused of using hardball tactics during an open letter in late January—a description that the company dismissed as a false narrative.

It comes amid continued questioning of the impacts of a recent ban signed by President Joe Biden, which seeks to restrict TikTok's operations in the U.S. But, for the time being, the new licensing deal means that American TikTok users will be able to continue listening to their favorite hits from UMG's roster of stars.

This partnership isn't just meaningful in compensating the creators fairly but also enhances user experience by keeping a diverse, vibrant music library available on TikTok—a fact that strengthens the platform's position in one of the leading spaces for music discovery and artist promotion.

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