Triller Quietly Licenses the Largest Music Publishers In the World

Triller IPO

About six weeks removed from the start of its much-publicized dispute with Universal Music Group, video-sharing app (and prominent TikTok competitor) Triller has quietly inked a licensing agreement with the largest music publishers in the world.

The National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) recently took to social media to announce that it had struck a licensing deal with Triller. In addition to covering past song usages on the short-form video platform, this licensing pact will establish “a forward-looking license for our eligible independent music publishers,” according to the NMPA’s message, which consists specifically of a statement from president and CEO David Israelite.

“Music and video offer limitless potential to social media platforms, however compensating songwriters must be a primary consideration, not an afterthought. Triller has recognized the importance of music creators and made a positive step forward by coming to this partnership,” finished Israelite.

The reference to music’s benefits for social media platforms – and the implied lack of financial support that these platforms provide to songwriters – might reference Twitter, which the major labels called out during a late-December congressional hearing for allegedly engaging in “piracy at an industrial, massive scale.” Israelite, for his part, took aim at the service earlier this month, responding specifically to CEO Jack Dorsey’s tweet announcing that Square had acquired Jay-Z’s TIDAL.

“You already own a company that uses lots of music. It’s called Twitter. And it doesn’t pay songwriters,” reads a message that Israelite penned to Dorsey on March 4th.

It’s unclear if Triller’s deal with the NMPA means that a new Universal Music Group contract is imminent – or whether a partial compromise has already been reached in the form of a Universal Music Publishing Group agreement. Worth reiterating on this front is that each of the Big Three record labels reportedly has a stake in Triller, which still lists Universal Music, UMG Nashville, Def Jam, UMG Latin Entertainment, Republic Records, and others as “partners” on its website.

Moreover, Triller in October of 2020 inked a licensing deal with PRS for Music, Downtown, Concord, and other collecting societies and indie publishers that are part of ICE Core. The following month, TikTok ended its own licensing dispute with ICE, and in February of 2021, amid the aforementioned spat with Triller, UMG expanded its TikTok partnership.

Finally, Wixen Music Publishing’s $50 million copyright infringement claim against Triller was dismissed about one month ago – due to a perceived distinction between the applicability of the Copyright Act of 1909 and the Copyright Act of 1976, it bears noting. And about two weeks back, Triller heightened its presence in the music space by acquiring Verzuz and adding Timbaland and Swizz Beatz to its executive roster.