Read at www.nytimes.com
TikTok users woke up Thursday to find that videos using songs by artists like Taylor Swift and Ariana Grande had gone silent. This came after a public dispute between TikTok and Universal Music Group over royalties and A.I.-generated music. Universal Music, one of the three major music conglomerates, published an open letter expressing concerns about TikTok's lack of address on the issue. When a satisfying royalty rate agreement was not reached before the contract expiration, TikTok began removing access to Universal's catalog of songs.
It was a startling turn of events for the app's creators and users, as well as for the music business, where heated negotiations over copyright permissions and royalty terms sometimes boil over into public view but rarely reach what one industry publication called the nuclear option - the full-scale removal of content from one of music's biggest and most influential online outlets.
Universal Music Group is the world's largest music company, representing numerous popular artists like Taylor Swift, Drake, and Billie Eilish. The label expressed concerns that TikTok was not paying fair value for the music used on its platform. With the expiration of their contract, the label decided to revoke its licenses, resulting in TikTok removing access to their vast catalog of songs. This dispute highlights the ongoing challenges in the music industry regarding copyright permissions and royalty rates.
Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, the label said, without paying fair value for the music.