Universal Music Group has pulled its catalog from TikTok rival app Triller. A UMG spokesperson issued the following statement: “We will not work with platforms that do not value artists. 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.”
Triller CEO Mike Lu gave a statement to Billboard on the development, saying, “This has to be a bad Punk’d episode. I’m waiting for Ashton to jump out of my closet. 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.”
When reached by Pitchfork, a Triller spokesperson issued the following statement:
In June 2018, Triller and UMG announced that they had reached a licensing agreement that would give Triller users access to UMG’s entire catalog, which includes Taylor Swift, Drake, Kanye West, and other well-known acts. That agreement has ostensibly expired. A representative for UMG later gave Music Business Worldwide the following comment in response to Triller’s statement: “Triller’s statements are removed from reality.”
Triller, founded in 2015, has come under fire from several sides over the past year. The National Music Publishers Association asserted in July 2020 that the video app company had failed to properly license music on its platform. In November, Wixen Music Publishing hit Triller with a $50 million copyright infringement lawsuit, claiming that compositions administered by Wixen had been improperly used on the app. Triller has also been engaged in a legal battle with TikTok and Chinese parent company ByteDance since July 2020, when the former sued the latter for patent infringement.