IMPALA backs UMG stance on TikTok in call for 'fair licensing'

IMPALA backs UMG stance on TikTok in call for 'fair licensing'

Coming out in support of Universal Music Group pulling its music from TikTok, IMPALA has called on the platform to work with the independent music community to “achieve fair licensing terms”.

The organisation has been consulting its members on the role of TikTok in the industry, as well as recent reforms proposed by Deezer, Spotify and Apple, with the aim of fixing issues around “value gaps”.

IMPALA released its revised streaming plan in 2023 and has moved to highlight the issues again, with EU rules on AI also part of the equation.

Helen Smith, IMPALA’s executive chair, said: “TikTok and other ‘moment economy’ services are key partners. They play an important role in our music ecosystem and the licensing framework is clear, services need permission for the use of music, including soundalikes and AI adaptations. The new AI framework in Europe also helps set human-centred guide rails in this regard." 

Chair of IMPALA's streaming group and CEO of Everlasting Records and Popstock Distribuciones Mark Kitcatt said that there is "an urgent need to secure fair revenues from these vital services”. 

Services need permission for the use of music, including soundalikes and AI adaptations

Helen Smith, IMPALA

“In line with this, IMPALA supports UMG's stance on TikTok in relation to valuing music properly,” he added. “The independent community has adopted a similar approach at various points over the years with other services, from MTV to Apple to YouTube. We also reject arguments equating the use of music on TikTok to promotion. There is a huge value gap that must be addressed but, beyond that, an exciting opportunity to explore new ways of generating and sharing revenues."

Dan Waite, chair of IMPALA’s digital committee and CEO of Better Noise Music added: “TikTok is at a pivotal moment in terms of renewing their licensing deals where they can show that they value music fairly on their platform. It’s a use of music that needs to be remunerated like any other. The question of promotion isn't relevant. We wish to see independent labels, rightsholders and artists receive fair pay for usage, and to have terms just as favourable as the largest majors renew their licences on. Working together to better remunerate labels and artists across the whole industry is key. We urge TikTok and other services to respect this principle across the board.”

IMPALA has also reaffirmed its commitment to fighting issues around streaming manipulation and revenue dilution, while members from 32 countries have repeated their call to stop independent music being impacted by recent revenue allocation reforms proposed by Deezer, Spotify and Apple. 

TikTok is at a pivotal moment in terms of renewing their licensing deals where they can show that they value music fairly

Dan Waite, Better Noise Music

A press release states that IMPALA is calling for “any changes in how revenue is allocated to be properly assessed by services in terms of the impact they create over the whole market”.

Dario Drastata, chair of IMPALA and head of Balkans association RUNDA commented: "IMPALA supports collaborative reform that is sustainable and drives diversity. We seek urgent solutions to address manipulation and revenue dilution. We also need to make sure the proposals are fair to all, and we hope Merlin's recent agreement with Deezer will contribute to this objective. It's the only way to create a sustainable ecosystem. We believe for example that there are simple solutions for problems with thresholds that can be plugged in and will continue our constructive discussions with services to explore options. Finding the answers will ensure services are able to further develop opportunities in key markets and genres as well as across multiple languages.”

Helen Smith pledged to continue the organisation's work around streaming and digital.

"IMPALA's work is vital for Europe's music economy,” Smith said. “Independents account for over 80% of the sectors' new releases and jobs, providing stable and exciting opportunities for artists, fans and music employees across Europe. This was also reconfirmed at IMPALA's AGM last year, including the elimination of value gaps, and developing the digital market in all territories with great talent, huge audiences and untapped digital potential, such as in Central and Eastern Europe.” 

A TikTok spokesperson said in a statement:

"We value the relationships and the licensing agreements we have with the independent music community across Europe.  TikTok has always been a licensed service and we're proud of the successes that independent artists and businesses have found through our platform.  

"Since the start of the year we've seen significant global hits from artists from a range of genres and countries, from established stars to those just starting out, and this success continues to grow."

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