UMG vs TikTok - who wins?

In partnership with

Hey friends!

Today we’re going to talk about UMG vs TikTok.

There has been a lot of debate for who is in the right, Universal Music Group or TikTok. And also for who will win the stalemate. Spoiler alert, it isn’t artists.

What happened

Just in case you haven’t heard anything about this, here’s some back story.

Universal Music Group, one of the largest record labels in the world, pulled their entire catalog from TikTok (Feb 1st). Going even further, they’ve been blocking anyone signed or distributed from uploading their own music to the platform. Lately even non-UMG songs that have a single songwriter from UMG have been removed due to their publishing catalog being pulled as well (March 1).

UMG’s argument is that TikTok practically pays nothing for the music it uses and that they aren’t doing enough to ensure real artists get paid when AI music is made on the platform. TikTok’s argument is that they give artists free exposure on their app to help them get discovered, and that they’ve been a crucial player in the music industry for years now.

Both sides thing the other side is being greedy, and both sides think they’re a white knight for artists.


Unlock the full potential of your workday with cutting-edge AI strategies and actionable insights, empowering you to achieve unparalleled excellence in the future of work. Download the free guide today!

Who is right?

In my experience almost nothing is black and white. TikTok does pay practically nothing for the music on their app but they are also responsible for feeding a lot of growth in the music industry.

I’ve met artists signed under UMG that feel screwed because they can’t post any of their music on TikTok. Every time they upload a video with their own music in it TikTok pulls it down because of UMG. There are thousands of artists in this situation.

On the flip side you’ll find TikTok only pays about 1 penny per time a song is used in a video. That video can be viewed 1 million times and it still only pays 1 penny. On top of that they’ve shown interest in allowing users to play with AI created music that was very likely trained without permission from real artists on the platform.

Apparently (according to users) TikTok has even started blurring the faces of UMG artists in videos on the platform. UMG has initiated a deeper partnership with Spotify by allowing their catalog to be used for video on the streaming platform.

In my opinion this entire UMG vs TikTok war is nothing more than a pissing match between two giant corporations who want more power. Neither of these companies have a history of doing what’s right for artists. It doesn’t matter who wins because no matter what artists lose.

What can we do?

Unfortunately in situations like this most of us are just along for the ride. We have to roll with the punches and do whatever we can do with the limitations we have at the time.

Personally I think this is a perfect example of what it’s important to own your audience. Social media platforms constantly change, the most popular streaming platform could change over the next couple years. We can’t control it. However you can control your email list.

Having an audience on social media and streaming sites is great. However nothing beats having the direct contact information for your fans. No algorithm or platform can take it away from you. It’s your direct line of communication to your biggest fans.

The easiest and cheapest way to build a website, build funnels and start owning your audience is with MusicFunnels. Check it out with a 14 day free trial here.

Aside from that, keep your eyes peeled for potential opportunities when things change. Early adopters to new things can often get a first movers advantage. Perhaps this new Spotify partnership with UMG feeds into some new features for all artists, or maybe TikTok’s counter makes it easier as an indie artist to get attention.

New Content

Apparently there are about 10 million artists on Spotify, and 5+ million of them have never hit more than 100 lifetime streams.

Learn how we used TIkTok video edits to get 431,000 streams in 4 months, with no ads!

In this video I chat with Agent Method about being a professional sound designer and composer, getting paid to make presets, sample packs and more.

Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:

  1. My courses. Spotify Growth Machine teaches you how to use Facebook ads to promote your music on Spotify. YouTube Growth Machine teaches you how to grow a YouTube channel organically and how to use YouTube ads. Fan Growth Machine teaches you how to build a website, online store and grow your email list.

  2. My ad agency. Forbid Media specializes in running Facebook conversion ads to promote your music on Spotify.

  3. Website / Store / Funnels. MusicFunnels is the best all-in-one platform for music artists to make a website, online store, sales funnels and build their mailing list.

  4. 1-on-1 consulting. You can book 1-hour calls with myself or Alex Bochel here.

My Links:

Discount / Affiliate Links:

If you’d rather just purchase the e-book, or physical book or audiobook you can do so here.

I hope you enjoyed this edition of Music Marketing Monday! Please give your feedback using the poll below.

How did you like today's newsletter?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

In case you’re curious what platform i’m using to run this newsletter, it’s called beehiiv.

Join the conversation

or to participate.