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TikTok Faces Music as NMPA Signals Non-Renewal of Licensing Deal

This follows Universal Music Group's move of removing its musical works off the platform.
Photo illustration of the TikTok app is displayed | Getty Images | Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer
Photo illustration of the TikTok app is displayed | Getty Images | Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer

The standoff between music publishers and Chinese short-form video app TikTok has taken a crucial turn. On Wednesday, the trade group National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) cautioned its member publishers that it does not expect to renew its license with TikTok which is set to expire on April 30, Billboard reported. Earlier, the world’s largest music company, Universal Music Group started removing its music from the platform. Now, with NMPA pulling out, TikTok may lose a lot more music troubling thousands of creators who depend on the platform for their income.

“Recently, the press has highlighted concerns around TikTok’s licensing practices, concerns that NMPA has heard directly from many of our members,” the letter from NMPA read, as per the Billboard report. Thus, the NMPA wrote that it does not anticipate that there will be an option to renew or extend the current licenses or extend a new license with TikTok.


The NMPA also mentioned that the publishers who wish to continue to license their works to TikTok may engage directly with the platform to negotiate a license. However, without an NMPA license, TikTok should not be able to use the member publisher’s musical works.

The most prominent music publishers in the world are members of the NMPA. The NMPA negotiates its TikTok license for its members, allowing them to bypass the strain and cost of negotiating directly with the platform. However, not all members of the NMPA use its model license for TikTok and negotiate their deals on their own. Thus, if the agreement doesn’t go forward, a lot of music may be removed but there will still be works of several artists available.

On the other hand, if publishers like Sony and Warner Chappell join the suit and remove their content, it means almost all famous musical works will vanish from the platform.

The battle between TikTok and the UMG has already hurt the platform. Songs published by UMG began to be removed from the platform last month and more and more publishers have removed their songs.

In January, UMG chairman-CEO Lucian Grainge wrote an open letter in which he mentioned that in its license negotiations, the UMG had been pressing on three critical issues including, appropriate compensation for artists, protection of artists from AI, and online safety of uses.


The letter also said that TikTok had proposed to pay artists at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that other similar platforms pay. He added that TikTok added to about 1% of the UMG’s total revenue thus, it is understandable why the company wants to change the license terms.

At last, if circumstances change before the expiration of NMPA’s current license contract with TikTok, the NMPA has said it will promptly notify its members.

While the future of TikTok’s content hangs in limbo, people on social media have turned the news into a meme fest. As the popular X account PopCrave broke the news, people flooded it with hilarious replies and memes.

One user posted a sarcastic GIF on the situation on PopCrave’s post while others simply made fun of it.


Another user hilariously commented that now creators will be dacning to silence after TikTok losses all its music using a Family Guy meme. 


However, one user pointed out the important thing that TikTok may “die” if music is removed from the app.