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Universal Music and TikTok Resolve Royalty Dispute, Songs to Return

Universal Music and TikTok have reached a resolution following a dispute over royalties, which led to the removal of millions of songs from the social media platform. The new licensing agreement will see songs from some of the world’s biggest artists, including Drake, Adele, and Billie Eilish, reinstated on TikTok within the next two weeks.

TikTok, a popular short video app, serves as a significant marketing and promotional tool for music stars. However, in January, Universal Music claimed that it received significantly lower payments for artists and songwriters compared to similar social media platforms, prompting the label to pull its catalogue from TikTok.

As the largest music label globally, Universal also represents Taylor Swift, who permitted a selection of her songs to return to TikTok as part of her album promotion in April. Swift, who owns the copyrights to her recordings through a 2018 deal with Universal, has control over the availability of her songs.

The companies have announced a “new multi-dimensional” licensing agreement aimed at delivering “significant industry-leading benefits” for Universal’s artists and labels. TikTok has committed to investing resources into developing artist-centric tools and enhancing online safety protections for artists and their fans.

The agreement includes the unmuting of all previously muted videos and addresses concerns about the use of AI in the creative community. Both companies pledge to collaborate on AI development to safeguard human artistry and ensure proper artist and songwriter attribution.

Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and Chief Executive of Universal Music Group, described the agreement as a “new chapter” focusing on the value of music and the welfare of the creative community. TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew, emphasized the importance of music in the platform’s ecosystem and expressed satisfaction in finding a way forward with Universal Music Group.

Concerns regarding AI in the creative industry have grown, with recent instances of unauthorized use of artists’ voices and likenesses. In response, efforts are being made to protect artists’ creative “personality” in law against AI copies and ensure proper acknowledgment of creators.

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