Harry Styles and Sting could be among the Northern artists whose music disappears from TikTok in under 24 hours after publisher and label Universal Music Group and the social media giant failed to agree on issues including artist compensation and AI.
Styles, the Cheshire-raised backer of Manchester’s soon-to-open Co-op Live Arena, and Newcastle native Sting, aka Gordon Sumner, could join other global stars including Taylor Swift, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Drake, the Weeknd, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Adele, U2 and Coldplay in disappearing from TikTok’s library when the pair’s existing agreement expires tomorrow.
In an open letter published yesterday titled “Why we must call Time Out on TikTok,” UMG, the biggest music company in the world, accused TikTok of attempting to “bully” and “intimidate” it into “accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value and not reflective of their exponential growth.”
If UMG fails to reach an agreement with TikTok, all of its songs will be removed from the service once the deal expires on Wednesday, a UMG spokesperson has confirmed to Reuters.
In response, TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, said: “TikTok accused UMG of having ‘put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.’ Despite Universal’s false narrative and rhetoric, the fact is they have chosen to walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent.”
The row comes as TikTok itself moves into music creation with artificial intelligence. Its AI Song feature allows users to create songs using prompts, potentially bypassing traditional artists and labels altogether. It has also launched TikTok Music in select markets as a rival to Spotify and Apple Music.