UMG is returning to TikTok after settlement of months-long dispute

A new “multi-dimensional” licensing agreement will also see both organisations working to foster “new monetisation opportunities” for UMG artists.

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TikTok logo displayed on a smartphone

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Months after Universal Music Group pulled its entire song catalogue from TikTok – effectively muting all user videos which included them – both companies have reached a new licensing agreement that will see UMG tracks re-added to the video-sharing platform.

In a fiery open letter penned by UMG back in January titled ‘Why we must call time out on TikTok’, the music giant accused TikTok of trying to “bully” it into “accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value and not reflective of [its] exponential growth”.

Now, both companies have resolved the high-profile dispute, striking a new “multi-dimensional” licensing agreement that will see music by artists under the UMG banner return to TikTok at last.

“This new chapter in our relationship with TikTok focuses on the value of music, the primacy of human artistry and the welfare of the creative community,” says Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group.

“We look forward to collaborating with the team at TikTok to further the interests of our artists and songwriters and drive innovation in fan engagement while advancing social music monetisation.”

Shou Chew, CEO of TikTok, adds: “Music is an integral part of the TikTok ecosystem and we are pleased to have found a path forward with Universal Music Group. We are committed to working together to drive value, discovery and promotion for all of UMG’s amazing artists and songwriters, and deepen their ability to grow, connect and engage with the TikTok community.”

The agreement, according to both UMG and TikTok, marks a “new era of strategic collaboration”, which in addition to the return of UMG music to the platform, aims to deliver “improved remuneration” for UMG’s artists, new promotional and engagement opportunities for their songs and “industry-leading protections with respect to generative AI”.

Both organisations also say they are working together to realise “new monetisation opportunities utilising TikTok’s growing e-commerce capabilities”.

Additionally, TikTok will continue to invest in building artist-centric tools, including “Add to Music App”, enhanced data and analytics, and integrated ticketing.

“We are delighted to welcome UMG and UMPG [Universal Music Publishing Group] back to TikTok,” says Ole Obermann, TikTok’s Global Head of Music Business Development. “We look forward to working together to forge a path that creates deeper connections between artists, creators, and fans. In particular, we will work together to make sure that AI tools are developed responsibly to enable a new era of musical creativity and fan engagement while protecting human creativity.”

Michael Nash, Chief Digital Officer and EVP of Universal Music Group, says: “Developing transformational partnerships with important innovators is critical to UMG’s commitment to promoting an environment in which artists and songwriters prosper.

“We’re gratified to renew our relationship with TikTok predicated on significant advancements in commercial and marketing opportunities as well as protections provided to our industry-leading roster on their platform. With the constantly evolving ways that social interaction, fan engagement, music discovery and artistic ingenuity converge on TikTok, we see great potential in our collaboration going forward.”

Currently, there’s no hard date as to when UMG’s catalogue will return to TikTok in its entirety, but both organisations say they are working “expeditiously” to return music to the platform “in due course”.


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