Leah Halton’s TikTok Video Featuring YG Marley’s ‘Praise Jah in the Moonlight’ Just Hit 700 Million Views — Too Bad YG Marley Only Got Paid for the First View

Leah Halton TikTok video virality spells little cash for YG Marley
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Leah Halton TikTok video virality spells little cash for YG Marley
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Photo Credit: Leah Halton’s Instagram

Australian model Leah Halton’s TikTok video featuring YG Marley’s ‘Praise Jah in the Moonlight’ is on track to break the record for the most-viewed and most-favorited TikTok video of all time. But the sad reality is that YG Marley is only getting paid a pittance for the first view.

A 12-second clip of Aussie model Leah Halton lip-syncing to YG Marley’s “Praise Jah in the Moonlight” is well on its way to becoming the most-liked and most-viewed video on TikTok. But the platform’s payout model only results in one royalty payment for Marley — for only one view.

That sad fact was confirmed to Digital Music News by multiple music industry experts in our recent ‘Missing Payments’ DMN Pro event, including Alexander Baynum of Exploration.io and Ryan Born of HAAWK and Identifyy. Born noted that TikTok payouts depend on the number of different videos in which a track appears, rather than how many views each of those clips racks up.

“The simpler way to say it is, ‘You will only make more money on Meta platforms and on TikTok when you’re in more videos, regardless of how popular those videos might be,’” said Born. “You might be in a million videos that have one stream, and that’s going to make infinitely more money than one video that has a million streams — even though it’s the same number of streams.”

Alexander Baynum also confirmed that artists receive one payment for one view on TikTok, even if a video racks up millions of plays.

Of course, 700 million views is an enormously viral number that would produce significant royalty payouts on platforms like YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music. But TikTok has its own rules, which translates into pennies for YG Marley.

Incidentally, it should be noted that TikTok identified YG Marley’s track below the Leah Halton video. The platform also offers a similar credit for other songs it identifies. That helps with exposure, and TikTok has defended its role in popularizing artists despite the glaringly low payments. In many cases, tracks that blow up on TikTok create a ripple effect on platforms like Spotify, though labels like Universal Music Group have been unimpressed by the exposure argument.

Missing royalty payments?

DMN Pro’s ‘Missing Payments? A Look At Loss Prevention In Music‘ offers a comprehensive discussion on the state of music licensing, streaming fraud, metadata, and getting paid — with a panel of the foremost authorities in the music industry. Missing payments? Tune in!

Posted on February 5th, Halton’s TikTok video has racked up over 700 million views, 44.8 million likes, 1.5 million comments, and 4 million saves as of Monday, April 15th.

The clip is on track to out-like the current most-liked video on the platform, a 10-second clip of Bella Poarch lip-syncing to “M to the B” by Millie B. But Poarch’s video was posted in 2020, while Halton’s video is rapidly catching up just two months after she initially posted it.

Halton’s video has already surpassed the sixth most-liked TikTok video: Billie Eilish’s first video posted back in 2020. Filling out the top five most liked videos are Nick Luciano’s “Sugar Crush” parody video from 2021, Jamie32bish’s 2022 dance to Nelly Furtado’s “Say It Right,” Franek Bielak’s artwork posted in 2020, and Totouchanemu’s 2021 dance to The Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber’s “STAY.”

The Leah Halton milestone — and non-payment reality for Marley — comes as Universal Music Group intensifies its war against TikTok.

Luckily for TikTok, YG Marley isn’t signed to Universal Music Group, nor is the songwriter associated with the track, according to information shared by ASCAP. If that were the case, Halton would have simply picked another reggae track and called it a day.

But that doesn’t mean that UMG artists aren’t floating around on TikTok. According to details shared with DMN, the label is finding endless unauthorized tracks on the platform, including songs sped up or otherwise modified.

Accordingly, as we recently reported, UMG has been aggressively issuing DMCA takedown notices to TikTok for unauthorized use of its catalog, with sources revealing that tens of thousands of notices may be getting sent.

That comes amidst growing frustration from UMG towards TikTok due to the platform’s incapability or unwillingness to effectively deal with repeat infringers on its platform, a requirement under the DMCA and US copyright law.

Separately, TikTok videos that use altered or modified versions of songs are harder to track but are still very much infringing.

What happens after TikTok gets banned in the US?

In this comprehensive white paper, DMN Pro breaks down the likely winners and losers in the music industry over the short and long terms. The breakdown spans major and indie labels, publishers, songwriters, various artist tiers, and sync platforms. If Congress hits delete on TikTok, here’s where you’ll likely stand.

But here’s the kicker: UMG is not only targeting the removal of its content from TikTok, but DMN now understands that the major label is exploring a strategic legal approach to hold TikTok accountable for not complying with the DMCA’s repeat infringer policy. This policy necessitates the termination of accounts of habitual infringers, which TikTok ostensibly has ignored or otherwise failed to enforce.

Sources to DMN indicate that UMG is meticulously documenting TikTok’s responses to these takedown notices, possibly preparing for a substantial legal confrontation surrounding these violations.