Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record label, has yanked its catalog from Triller, claiming that the TikTok rival is withholding licensing payments to artists and refusing to negotiate going forward.
This isn’t the first time that Triller has earned the ire of the music industry, reports Music Business Worldwide, which notes that the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) blasted the platform last summer for not properly licensing songs. Today, UMG echoed this sentiment.
“We will not work with platforms that do not value artists,” the record label told Music Business Worldwide in a statement. “Triller has shamefully withheld payments owed to our artists and refuses to negotiate a license going forward. We have no alternative except to remove our music from Triller, effective immediately.”
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Triller CEO Mike Lu denounced the claims. “This has to be a bad Punk’d episode. I’m waiting for Ashton [Kutcher] to jump out of my closet,” he said. “Our relationship with UMG is solid. Its biggest artists are investors and partners in Triller and Universal owns part of Triller. We find it hard to believe UMG wouldn’t give us any warning or notice but just tell us via press.”
Music Business Worldwide notes that Triller signed a licensing pact with UMG in June 2018, which appears to have expired. Furthermore, all three of the world’s biggest record labels — UMG, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group — are believed to hold minority stakes in Triller, as noted in Lu’s statement.
Both Triller and UMG are in the process of readying IPOs, with Triller’s slated for later this year and UMG’s set to arrive in 2022.