TikTok-UMG Deal Unmutes Your Videos, Restores Music From Top Artists

TikTok has been a critical promotional tool for musicians and an important venue for creative experimentation and for building communities.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
3 min read
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UMG and TikTok reached a deal to end a dispute that had kept music from the likes of Taylor Swift, The Weeknd and Bad Bunny off the social media platform.

James Martin/CNET

Universal Music Group and TikTok just called time on their three-month spat. On Thursday, the label and the social platform struck a "multi-dimensional licensing agreement" that will see music from UMG's artists, including SZA, Bad Bunny, Kendrick Lamar and Ariana Grande, available for you to use as TikTok audio once more. 

Not only will you be able to use music from UMG artists in new videos, but your existing TikToks that have been muted because they featured songs from the UMG catalog will now be unmuted.

"This new chapter in our relationship with TikTok focuses on the value of music, the primacy of human artistry and the welfare of the creative community," said UMG Chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge in a statement. Huge stars including Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, Drake and The Beatles were caught up in the dispute, but their music has now been restored to the platform.

It's felt like a long three months since TikTok and UMG announced in early February that they'd failed to reach a new deal. UMG accused TikTok of failing to compensate it fairly for using artists' music, as well as not protecting its artists from AI or doing enough to keep the platform safe. In the intervening period, one UMG artist, Taylor Swift, did return to TikTok with her new double album, signaling that the record label and video-sharing platform were on better terms, and potentially close to hashing out a deal.

Read more: TikTok Is Changing the Way You Discover Music. Meet the Young Creators Making It Happen

Now that deal is a reality, and it's designed to help UMG artists and songwriters reach their full creative and commercial potential. The platform has been a critical promotional tool for musicians in recent years, but has also become an important venue for creative experimentation and building communities. A fresh start for the pair will allow TikTok's 1 billion-plus users around the world to create videos using tracks by their favorite artists and discover new music by artists and songwriters.

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As part of the new deal, TikTok and UMG say they'll also be working closely on artist campaigns and new opportunities for artists to make money on the platform. The deal includes protections with respect to generative AI, including a commitment on TikTok's part to remove AI-generated music and beef up artist and songwriter attribution.

While the breakthrough is being celebrated by all parties, this isn't the end of TikTok's woes. On April 24, President Joe Biden signed a bill that could result in TikTok being banned in the US, which would affect the platform's more than 100 million American users. Lawmakers are concerned that TikTok's China-linked parent company ByteDance could be a threat to national security and want it to sell the platform to a company the US approves of.

For now, US-based TikTok users have full access to the platform and UMG's library, but TikTok's wider fight to prove itself continues.

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