Mar 7, 2024 2 min read

US publisher group doesn't plan to renew its TikTok licensing deal

TikTok may have to remove more songs from its platform in May because the US National Music Publishers Association has said it does not intend to renew its licensing agreement with the social media platform. That agreement is utilised by various independent music publishers that are NMPA members

US publisher group doesn't plan to renew its TikTok licensing deal

The US National Music Publishers Association has told its members that it doesn't anticipate renewing its framework licensing agreement with big bad TikTok, meaning any independent publishers currently utilising that agreement will need to negotiate their own new deal with the social media platform. Or alternatively demand that their songs be removed and sign up to attend Universal Music's regular TikTok diss parties. 

In an update to members, NMPA states that its current TikTok agreement expires on 30 Apr and "at this time, we do not anticipate that there will be an option to renew or extend the current NMPA licences or participate in a new licence with TikTok through NMPA. NMPA members should make their own business determination whether to engage directly with TikTok to negotiate a licence beyond 30 Apr 2024".

The update also notes that "recently the press has highlighted concerns around TikTok’s licensing practices, concerns that NMPA has heard directly from many of our members". That relates to the big bust up between Universal Music and TikTok. 

Having failed to agree a new licensing deal with TikTok, Universal has accused the social media firm of undervaluing music and failing to deal with its concerns about AI and platform safety. The fall out first resulted in Universal controlled recordings being pulled from TikTok. Then the songs that are published and licensed by Universal Music Publishing had to be removed. 

Removing songs published by Universal means that the stand-off between the major and TikTok impacts on other labels, whose artists have recorded versions of songs in part owned by the major. If US independent publishers currently licensing TikTok via the NMPA agreement decide not to negotiate their own direct deals with the platform, more songs will need to be removed, impacting more labels that still have TikTok deals in place. 

NMPA has negotiated a number of framework licensing agreements with digital platforms over the years on behalf of its members, which can then choose whether or not to participate in those licences. The trade group usually gets involved with digital platforms that cannot rely on a combination of licences from the US collecting societies like BMI and ASCAP, and the compulsory licence administered by the MLC that covers mechanical rights for audio services.

It's not clear how many publishers are currently part of the NMPA's TikTok licence and it remains to be seen how many use this as an opportunity to ally with Universal on the big boycott, and how many seek their own deals instead. 

While NMPA won't be able to help those publishers who want to go the licensing route with TikTok, it is offering advice to the boycotters. It adds, "Starting 1 May 2024, any members who are not licensed with TikTok and would like to discuss enforcement options can contact attorneys at NMPA".

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