At the start of February, Universal Music Group (UMG) pulled all of its music from TikTok, saying that artists were getting a bad deal on the platform. Talks on licencing fell through with the Chinese short-form video social media platform, and UMG went on to say that it only accounts for “only about 1 per cent of our total revenue” in an open letter and that the proposed new deal would have offered even less than what other major social media platforms pay, as a substantially weaker agreement.
But that’s not strictly the only benefit that UMG, and its artists, had from TikTok. TikTok isn’t strictly a streaming platform, it’s a social media platform. For many artists, this is a platform for them to get their new content across, whether that be a new song, movie or artistic project. However, for artists like Peach PRC, it’s where the base of their audience resides.
Sharlee Jade Curnow, known by her stage name Peach PRC, puts up dozens of videos every month, ranging from music premieres to sharing stories with her followers. She’s built up a following that likes her authentic approach to stardom, with interspersed snippets from her music library. TikTok is the platform she credits as where UMG discovered her in the first place.
Now, because she is signed with UMG, many of her videos appear muted, with the caption ‘This Sound Isn’t Available’ displayed.
However, it appears the pop star has broken ranks with UMG, her publisher, and is uploading her music as original audio in her videos.
Actually, she did it twice on the same day.
And now again, just this morning.
She’s not the only artist that has been affected by this, Fletcher, another prominent musician with a highly engaged following on TikTok, had many of her songs muted on the platform as well, and later leaked an upcoming track.
Gizmodo Australia has reached out to Peach PRC and Fletcher to hear what they have to say on this topic, and we’ll update this article if we hear back.
None of that is to say that what UMG said in its open letter isn’t unreasonable, though. The music publishing giant highlighted in its open letter the way AI-generated music is impacting the way artists are making money.
“On AI, TikTok is allowing the platform to be flooded with AI-generated recordings—as well as developing tools to enable, promote and encourage AI music creation on the platform itself – and then demanding a contractual right which would allow this content to massively dilute the royalty pool for human artists, in a move that is nothing short of sponsoring artist replacement by AI,” the open letter reads.
“Further, TikTok makes little effort to deal with the vast amounts of content on its platform that infringe our artists’ music and it has offered no meaningful solutions to the rising tide of content adjacency issues, let alone the tidal wave of hate speech, bigotry, bullying and harassment on the platform. The only means available to seek the removal of infringing or problematic content (such as pornographic deepfakes of artists) is through the monumentally cumbersome and inefficient process which equates to the digital equivalent of ‘Whack-a-Mole.’”
UMG has also accused TikTok of intimidation, by removing the songs of developing artists in the lead-up to the removal of the UMG library, while keeping huge stars on the platform.
Image: Peach PRC on Instagram
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