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TikTok Vs. UMG Vs. AI - The Battle Has Just Started

 
     
  By Corey Tate, Editor of Spacelab  
  Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok are debating the future of music royalties in the light of AI music and independent artists. But the music copyright is already declining in value.  
     
 

The unfolding saga between Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok over licensing disputes is heating up. The crux of this contention lies in TikTok's alleged strong-arm tactics against UMG, prompting the latter to consider withdrawing its expansive music library — including hits from Taylor Swift, Drake, and Harry Styles among others — from the popular video-sharing platform. 

 

This dramatic turn of events aligns with the expiration of the existing licensing agreement between the two entities on January 31st. 

 

This clash between UMG and TikTok is a microcosm of the broader challenges industries face in integrating AI technology. Issues like AI likeness and voice replication have been central to disputes, such as the SAG-AFTRA strikes, and lawsuits like The New York Times' case against OpenAI and Microsoft for alleged copyright infringement. UMG's struggle reflects a universal effort to balance technological advancement with the protection of creative rights.

 

UMG's public statement on Tuesday was a scathing critique of TikTok's business practices, accusing the platform of undervaluing music by offering inadequate compensation to artists and songwriters. 

 

It’s pretty ironic that artists once rallied against music streaming because they wanted to protect the money they made from selling CDs and now they want to protect music streaming royalties against the next big thing: AI-generated music.

 

     
  It’s pretty ironic that artists once rallied against music streaming because they wanted to protect the money they made from selling CDs and now they want to protect music streaming royalties against the next big thing: AI-generated music.  
     

 


Add to that the fact that artists have been complaining about how low streaming royalties are, you have to wonder why they now want to protect them.


It’s also ironic that UMG is doing this to protect their business interests … but doesn’t speak in support of independent artists that have gotten noticed because of TikTok. The platform regularly brings notoriety to musicians that are unknown to the larger world. 

What they’re missing is huge though — change is happening once again in the music industry and artists and labels are missing out on their opportunity to be part of that change.

 

     
  What they’re missing is huge though — change is happening once again in the music industry and artists and labels are missing out on their opportunity to be part of that change.  
     

 


You can’t stop this kind of technology change once it’s in motion.


It’s also clear to me that we’re likely to see this as an ongoing battle in the future as everybody in the music business who has built a stake around copyright is finding that a copyright is declining in value in the face of AI. There are just more options available now to us as creators.


I want to make it clear that I’m no TikTok fanboy tho … I don’t even have a profile on TikTok and Spacelab doesn’t use TikTok.


That’s also not a stance against the platform, I just focus on other platforms. You can only do so many platforms without losing focus.


To me the better option would be to make sense of the current environment and make a plan on how you as an artist or creator are going to thrive in the new changed technology environment.

 

     
  To me the better option would be to make sense of the current environment and make a plan on how you as an artist or creator are going to thrive in the new changed technology environment.  
     

 


Fighting the change is useless. The changes that AI are bringing are already rooted in, and this won’t become uprooted.

 

UMG's open letter underscored the incongruence between TikTok's proposed payment rates and those of comparable major social platforms, noting that TikTok's contribution to UMG's revenue is a mere 1 percent, despite its influential status in the music industry. 

 

The letter also raised alarms about the potential impact of generative AI on artists' careers and reputations, citing TikTok's promotion of AI music creation tools and the platform's failure to address content infringement, hate speech, and harassment issues.

 

In response to UMG's allegations, TikTok issued a statement on Wednesday, accusing UMG of prioritizing its own financial interests over those of its artists and songwriters. TikTok defended its role as a promotional and discovery tool for talent, countering UMG's narrative and highlighting its successful agreements with other labels and publishers.

 

This battle is just getting started ... the AI issue will be present in the music industry fo years to come.


 

 

 
 
 
     
     
 

 

 
 
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