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More Music Takedowns Coming to TikTok? Major Publishing Group Will Not Renew Its License

The National Music Publishers Association announced it will not renew its license with the video platform.

Source: MEGA
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Things could soon be going from bad to worse for music on TikTok. Just over a month ago, the Chinese video platform -- which has emerged in recent years as a major driver of music discovery -- saw thousands of songs pulled from the app's videos, after TikTok's license with music giant Universal Music Group expired. Universal then turned up the heat even further last week, when it began to also remove songs featuring songwriting credits from writers signed to its publishing arm, Universal Music Publishing Group, even if the song's artist was signed to a different label.

On March 7, another domino started to wobble. The National Music Publishers Association, a trade group representing a bevy of independent publishers, sent a letter to its membership, noting that its license with TikTok will expire at the end of April, and that it does not expect to renew. As reported by Billboard, the letter said, in part: “Recently, the press has highlighted concerns around TikTok’s licensing practices, concerns that NMPA has heard directly from many of our members. At this time, we do not anticipate that there will be an option to renew or extend the current NMPA licenses or participate in a new license with TikTok through NMPA.”

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Source: MEGA

Though she is not signed to a Universal Music Group label, Beyoncé saw several of her songs pulled from TikTok due to publishing entanglements.

The letter went on to note that publishers who had previously been covered by the NMPA's license could negotiate their own individual licenses with the platform, while advising: "It is important that all NMPA members understand that without a license in place, TikTok should not be using your musical works on its platform." (It is unclear how many music publishers are currently covered by the NMPA's license.)

While the biggest blow to TikTok came in early February, when UMG began removing thousands of its artists' songs from the platform, the purge had a second wave weeks later, when Universal began executing takedowns on behalf of its publishing clients as well. For example, Beyoncé's "Cuff It" was released by Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records, a division of Sony, but it was removed from TikTok because the Universal artist Raphael Saadiq worked on the track, Billboard reported.

Adele, Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, Ice Spice, Elton John, and Metallica also saw tracks removed from the platform due to similar corporate entanglements.

As UMG explained in an open letter: “TikTok proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay. Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music.”

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james blake
Source: MEGA

James Blake highlighted the downsides of TikTok discovery in a series of social media posts this week.

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While TikTok has been a boon to many -- folk-rock heroes the Mountain Goats and British dance dive Sophie Ellis-Bextor are just two of the artists whose music abruptly became popular with an entirely new generation thanks to appearances in viral videos -- some artists have also bemoaned the platform's sudden ubiquity.

James Blake, for instance, caused a stir earlier this week when he took to X (formerly Twitter) to highlight the downsides of TikTok's prominence.

"Something I keep seeing is, ‘If you’re lucky enough to go viral, just use the exposure to generate income some other way.’ Musicians should be able to generate income via their music," Blake wrote. "Do you want good music or do you want what you paid for?

“If we want quality music somebody is gonna have to pay for it,” he continued. “Streaming services don’t pay properly, labels want a bigger cut than ever and just sit and wait for you to go viral, TikTok doesn’t pay properly, and touring is getting prohibitively expensive for most artists. The brainwashing worked and now people think music is free.”


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