Last week Warner Music Group and TikTok agreed to a multi-year licensing deal that might be the start of artists finally seeing real money in their bank accounts from the short-form video app. The agreement allows creators to freely use WMG music on their videos without needing a license.
There are two things about this agreement that are interesting. Firstly, will this mean that both Sony and Universal will follow suit? How about Merlin? The major labels usually play a game of follow-the-leader once one strikes a precedent. If so, the precedent has been set, so let’s see how long it takes the other two (and the indie-label organization Merlin) to jump in.
Secondly, there’s no talk about the money involved. How much was the deal worth? More importantly, how is this going to benefit Warner artists and songwriters? You always have to wonder about licensing deals because it’s uncertain how much money will actually end up at artist-level.
So far the only artist benefit that’s been publicly stated has been that WMG artists and songwriters will now have greater access to TikTok partners and tools for engaging fans and selling goods. I bet artists and songwriters would rather have some extra dough instead. Also, the companies stated that they will develop “additional and alternative economic models” together, which seems to be code for “We’re trying to think of something for the next press release.”
One of the points that seems to be overlooked is that the deal also includes licensing for TikTok Music, the premium subscription streaming service that recently launched in Indonesia and Brazil. TikTok will eventually roll this out worldwide, and it could mean another revenue stream for artists, songwriters and labels.
You have to believe that Warner Music struck a better deal with TikTok than the last one, and it’s important that it happened, but it would be nice if some of the details were released as well so artists would have a sense of where they stand.