UMG vs. TikTok Ends In a Whimper

Cool if you like corporate games where artists are the pawns

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UMG vs. TikTok has ended in the most embarrassing of ways – not with a bang, but with some hot air jargon, handwaving, and the same status quo.

I’ve tried to locate a single actual change or win for artists in the announcement, but alas. 

The endgame and timing of this whole farce, alongside UMG’s Q1 layoffs – including a whole bunch of people who worked in marketing, aka on TikTok campaigns – makes it quite clear that this was never about helping artists. 

(Recall that when UMG went public, it promised investors that a 20% EBITDA target was possible in the “mid-term” – and when announcing the layoffs, noted the new cost-saving plan is “required to get us to [that] mid-20s margin guidance”. The TikTok clash seems to have provided some cover so they could fire a huge chunk of folks *after posting record profits*.)

If UMG extracted actual “improved remuneration” concessions from TikTok, I can’t wait to hear them. 

Right now it just looks like corporate games where artists are the pawns. 

Here’s what they said: 

UMG says the new “multi-dimensional” deal “will deliver significant industry-leading benefits” and “focuses on the value of music, the primacy of human artistry and the welfare of the creative community” to “further the interests of our artists and songwriters and drive innovation in fan engagement while advancing social music monetization”

TikTok says the new deal will “drive value, discovery and promotion” and “deepen their ability to grow, connect and engage with the TikTok community” and “realize new monetization opportunities” [TikTok Shop] and “invest significant resources into building artist-centric tools” [dashboards] that will help UMG artists “realize their potential” on the platform.”