Business News Deals Digital

US publishers agree licensing deal framework with TikTok

By | Published on Friday 24 July 2020


The US National Music Publishers Association has announced a multi-year licensing agreement with TikTok that its members can now choose to opt into. It’s a significant development in TikTok’s music deals journey because, as recently as April, the NMPA was saying it might go legal if the video-sharing platform didn’t sort out licensing things on the songs side.

TikTok has been very busy indeed trying to get all of its music licences sorted over the last year or so, of course, with various short-term and longer-term deals having been agreed, especially on the recordings side. But gaps definitely remain. And, as always, on the songs side there are all the extra complexities over which elements of the copyright are being exploited, and what deals you need with publishers versus what deals you need with collecting societies.

Back in April, NMPA boss David Israelite told the Financial Times that he estimated at least half of the music publishing sector was yet to agree deals with TikTok, even as their songs were being included in videos uploaded by the platform’s users. That fact, he said at the time, could result in litigation.

However, the trade body said yesterday that it had now finalised an agreement with the TikTokkers “to offer eligible NMPA members a new, valuable revenue stream. This new partnership will give NMPA members the ability to opt-in to a licensing framework that allows them to benefit from their works included on TikTok and is effective retroactively as of May 1 2020”.

Its statement went on: “The agreement is designed to enrich users’ experience and the creators of the music made available by the platform by helping them to get their music seen on a canvas with unlimited avenues for expression”. Which doesn’t really make any sense, but – you know – those unlimited avenues for expression sound like fun.

“We are pleased to find a way forward with TikTok which benefits songwriters and publishers and offers them critical compensation for their work”, Israelite added of the new deal. “Music is an important part of apps like TikTok which merge songs with expression and popularise new music while also giving new life to classic songs. This agreement respects the work of creators and gives them a way to be paid for their essential contributions to the platform”.

Meanwhile, speaking for those pesky TikTokkers, the firm’s Global Head Of Music Ole Obermann said: “TikTok is proud to partner with music publishers and songwriters to enable artist and song discovery, and support revenue opportunities”.

“We’re excited to partner with the NMPA”, he went on, “to bring their member companies on to the platform and help hundreds of millions of people discover and enjoy their songs. We look forward to continuing to work with songwriters to help them use TikTok as a powerful and innovative channel to reach a global audience through a unique format of creation and engagement”.