TikTok Drawing Scant Support From the Music Industry, DMN Poll Shows

TikTok support in the music industry
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TikTok support in the music industry
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Photo Credit: DMN

More than a month into the Universal Music vs. TikTok licensing showdown, TikTok appears to be drawing scant support from the music industry, according to a new poll conducted by DMN.

The world’s largest music publisher, Universal Music Publishing Group, announced at the end of January that it would not renew its licensing agreement with the phenomenally popular short-form video platform TikTok, in an open letter issued with its parent company, UMG.

That decision has sent ripples throughout the music and creator sectors — but lots of major music industry players have voiced their support for the major label and publisher. And a recent poll conducted by Digital Music News reinforces that TikTok doesn’t seem to have many supporters on the music industry side of the aisle.

With 192 participants asked whether TikTok or UMG is in the right, 84% of those polled sided with Universal Music, while 16% agreed with TikTok. A handful of comments asserted that neither entity is in the right, which may have received more votes had the option appeared in the poll, or among a larger pool of participants.

The dispute began with an allegedly lowball offer Universal received from TikTok, as well as the platform’s so-called AI data scraping — to say nothing of the ongoing user safety concerns across the US, Europe, and numerous other regions over the ByteDance-owned app. But TikTok fired back against UMG, accusing the company of prioritizing “greed” instead of “valuable artist promotion opportunities.”

In response, Universal made a swift exit, pulling its vast catalog of music from TikTok and leaving many videos without audio. And now, it looks like independent publishers might follow suit, with NMPA president and CEO David Israelite not only voicing his support for UMG, but later announcing that NMPA would not renew its licensing agreement with TikTok once it expires at the end of April.

Further, companies such as Downtown Music Holdings have called out TikTok’s conduct during its meteoric rise over the past handful of years. “At Downtown, we strive to ensure that artists, songwriters, and rights holders are equitably compensated for their creative endeavors,” says Downtown CEO Andrew Bergman. “This has not been the case with TikTok. It’s time to re-calibrate the partnership between the music industry and TikTok to re-balance the ledger.”

Still, as the rift between the short-form video app and the music industry continues to grow, Warner Music CEO Robert Kyncl is trying a different approach, having signed an extensive deal with TikTok over the summer.