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The industry-wide impact of UMG’s deal with TikTok

UMG tiktok deal

After an extensive period of arduous negotiations that were initially sign-posted by the temporary removal of the Universal Music Group (UMG) music catalogue from TikTok, it seems the pair have finally put their differences to one side. UMG recently announced a significant “multi-dimensional” licensing agreement with TikTok, which will see tracks from UMG juggernauts like Drake and Taylor Swift finally return to the platform.  

Of course, we don’t know the full contents of the agreement, but reportedly, it includes a number of improved terms of remuneration for UMG’s artists and songwriters, ensuring they receive equitable compensation. It also promises industry-leading benefits, including enhanced promotional opportunities that leverage TikTok’s massive user base to boost artist visibility and engagement.  

The deal places a strong emphasis on protecting the rights of artists in the age of generative AI. It includes measures to combat the unauthorised use of AI-generated music and ensure that the contributions of human artists are not undermined by new technologies – an area that the world’s policy makers are working tirelessly to keep up with. This not only shows the increased understanding and awareness to the challenges and opportunities posed by AI in the creative sectors, but also shows the willingness for trendsetting organisations such as UMG to embrace the changes that AI has brought to the industry. 

These two points are very commonly discussed and critiqued amongst those in the creative industries, often being labelled as areas that require urgent attention. And now, it seems that the UK Government have clocked on. 

The recent UK government report, “Creator Remuneration” from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee forms an extensive examination of the economic struggles faced by professional creators within the UK’s creative industries, despite the sector’s significant contribution to the national economy. It highlights the inadequate income and precarious working conditions endured by creators in the modern age, and provides a number of policy recommendations. 

Notably, two of those recommendations were reportedly addressed within the TikTok agreement.  

The first, a call for regulation and management of AI’s impact on the creative industries, is particularly forward-looking. As AI continues to use and produce creative content, it’s paramount that the surrounding landscape adapts to ensure that creators are properly compensated and can sustain their creative outputs in the face of unprecedented technological disruption.   

Another critical recommendation is the establishment of fairer contractual terms and better support systems for freelancer creatives. As the entertainment industry still consists mainly of freelancers, this could lead to more consistent income and provide some kind of clarity, and safety with regards to financial planning moving forwards. The hope is that, if implemented, the recommendations would lead to a more equitable and sustainable environment for creators in the UK, however it’s promising to know that the industry leaders in the music industry are somewhat aware of the need for fairer terms, and appreciate the developments in technology and all the great and not so great stuff that comes with it.  

To read the rest of the report click here:  

Creator Remuneration – Culture, Media and Sport 

For any legal advice and support with regards to commercial contracts and intellectual property such as copyright, please contact our Creative, Digital and Marketing legal team.  

Peter Pegasiou

Author Peter Pegasiou

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