TikTok signs licensing deal with US publishing body NMPA


Another day, another licensing deal for TikTok, and this one’s a biggie. It’s signed a global, multi-year agreement with the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) in the US.

That’s big because the NMPA has been rattling its sabre at TikTok for some time over licensing, with publishers angry at the lack of royalties coming their way for music used on the popular social app.

The deal “accounts for TikTok’s past use of musical works and sets up a forward-looking partnership” according to the announcement.

“This new partnership will give NMPA members the ability to opt-in to a licensing framework that allows them to benefit from their works included on TikTok and is effective retroactively as of May 1, 2020.”

The deal comes a day after TikTok announced a licensing deal with independent distributor Believe, and its TuneCore subsidiary.

“We are pleased to find a way forward with TikTok which benefits songwriters and publishers and offers them critical compensation for their work,” said NMPA boss David Israelite.

“Music is an important part of apps like TikTok which merge songs with expression and popularise 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.”

Last year, the NMPA backed a call for a formal investigation into TikTok in the US, on copyright grounds.

“In addition to important censorship concerns, it appears that TikTok has consistently violated U.S. copyright law and the rights of songwriters and music publishers. Many videos uploaded to TikTok incorporate musical works that have not been licensed and for which copyright owners are not being paid,” claimed the body then.

“While some publishers have been able to negotiate with TikTok to license their catalogs, a large part of our industry does not have agreements in place meaning numerous works continue to be used unlawfully as the platform’s popularity grows exponentially.”

Now, it’s all sweetness and light between the NMPA and TikTok, as the latter company continues to put agreements in place with a variety of rightsholders and collecting societies.

“We’re excited to partner with the NMPA to bring their member companies on to the platform and help hundreds of millions of people discover and enjoy their songs,” added Ole Obermann, the former WMG exec who’s now global head of music at TikTok.

“We look forward to continuing to work with songwriters to help them use TikTok as a powerful and innovative channel to reach a global audience through a unique format of creation and engagement.”

Written by: Stuart Dredge