TikTok and Universal Music Group: What their Deal Means for Independent Artists

After Universal Music Group removed all their artists’ music from TikTok for three months, the two music industry behemoths have finally reached a decision. So how will the TikTok and Universal Music Group deal impact you if you’re an independent artist? Are there any new benefits or changes that you need to know about?

Tiktok logo at the front, Universal logo at the back
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TikTok and Universal Music Group deal: What we know so far

The TikTok and UMG deal promises improved remuneration for UMG songwriters and artists. Plus, it also means UMG artists will get new promotional and engagement opportunities for their work on TikTok.

Sir Lucian Grainge, Chairman and CEO, Universal Music Group, said: “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. 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.”

Generative AI was one of the contentious issues in the UMG vs TikTok standoff. This new deal means that UMG artists will receive “industry-leading protections” when it comes to generative AI.

What does this all mean for independent artists?

According to a statement by UMG, the label is working with TikTok to ensure that “AI development across the music industry will protect human artistry and the economics that flow to those artists and songwriters.” Furthermore, TikTok and UMG are committed to “remove unauthorised AI-generated music from the platform” plus add “tools to improve artist and songwriter attribution.”

The two companies have commented they will also explore more monetisation opportunities, particularly when it comes to TikTok’s e-commerce services via TikTok Shop. In terms of remuneration and monetisation, it is unclear whether independent and non-UMG artists will also benefit from this improved deal.

If this means that UMG artists will receive better payouts from TikTok compared to non-UMG artists, this will likely create further categorisation. UMG artists will reap these benefits, while non-UMG artists, particularly independent artists (who have been the greatest benefactors of TikTok’s content meritocracy), will be excluded from these new benefits.

Final notes

However, it depends on whether other distributors and labels engage in serious discussions at the negotiating table. In an industry already (for the most part) stacked against independent artists when it comes to opportunities, this deal needs to apply to all artists for real change to happen on an industry-wide level.


Janelle knows a thing or two about the music industry. Having been involved in the industry since the age of 13, she's now involved in a variety of music-related projects and is always keen to share industry tips 'n' tricks with fellow musicians.