On the same day that it announced a $200 million fund for creators, TikTok has unveiled a multi-year agreement with the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA), a leading trade organization representing American music publishers and songwriters that was founded in 1917.
The pact will not only account for TikTok’s past use of recorded works (dating retroactively to May 1, 2020), but also sets up an agreement for future usage, according to Billboard, which says that the deal establishes TikTok’s “legal legitimacy” within the music industry” by enabling the thousands of NMPA member labels to opt into a licensing framework with TikTok.
TikTok — which has spawned many hit records, largely due to viral dances that can proliferate like wildfire — was formerly in the midst of a months-long standoff with the NMPA over copyright infringement, Billboard notes. Earlier this year, the organization urged Congress to investigate TikTok for copyright theft, and NMPA CEO David Israelite even suggested that a lawsuit could be afoot.
“We are pleased to find a way forward with TikTok which benefits songwriters and publishers and offers them critical compensation for their work,” Israelite said today in a statement. “Music is an important part of apps like TikTok which merge songs with expression and popularize 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.”
Prior to its deal with the NMPA, TikTok had been operating short-term licensing deals with the three major labels — Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and Warner Music Group. Billboard notes that TikTok also had deals in place with thousands of indie labels — many of which were grandfathered in after Musical.ly was shuttered to form TikTok. That said, TikTok’s agreement with Universal Music Group’s publishing division expired more than a year ago, and the platform also didn’t previously operate deals with Big Machine (Taylor Swift‘s former label) and Big Deal Music (My Morning Jacket, Sleater Kinney).
That said, all of these companies are NMPA members, Billboard notes, paving the way for licensing agreements.