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TikTok just lost a huge music catalog. What happened?| GuyWhoKnowsThings

Universal's concerns are real and reflect some of the most pressing challenges in today's music business: the need for artists to earn a decent living, the parameters of modern licensing agreements, the role of artificial intelligence. And in recent years music companies have begun to adapt to the reality that music fans' attention is not solely focused on jukebox-style streaming media like Spotify or Apple Music, but also on a variety of social platforms, like TikTok, where music can be just an attraction.

For TikTok, as for any social media company, the issue may involve how much influence it is willing to cede to a single content partner. As important as music is on TikTok, in the past the company has said “music is at the heart of the TikTok experience”—does not represent the entirety of the app experience; As any TikTok user knows, a song could simply be the audio wallpaper for a makeup tutorial or a plumbing how-to guide.

This is a key consideration for Universal, which says it is seeking a better deal for its acts. At the same time, the longer the dispute drags on, the more it will hurt artists, at least in the short term. TikTok is a vital promotional medium, and a generation of young fans now rely on the app to discover music, old and new.

Some of the most vital moments in music in recent years have happened on TikTok, since the explosion of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas and Olivia Rodrigo's “driver's license” to the revival of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.” For many artists today, being absent from TikTok would be like Madonna disappearing from MTV in the 1980s.

At the same time, however, artists are acutely aware of the need to get better deals for their music and the low rates they face in the streaming landscape. Talk to an artist for two minutes about the business and they'll tell you they should make more money streaming. They just don't want to sacrifice promotion or their connection with fans in the process.

We wait to see who blinks.

Universal's roster of stars gives it clout, and losing access to a library of thousands of the world's popular songs isn't good for TikTok. Apps with a music component depend on their licensing agreements with entertainment companies, and users expect to have a wide selection.

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