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Universal Music and Triller bury the hatchet with licensing deals


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In February this year, Universal Music Group took the highly unusual step of removing its music from social app Triller and publicly blasting the app for its approach to licensing.

“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,” said the major label at the time.

Three months on, the companies have buried the hatchet and struck licensing agreements that cover both recorded music (a renewed deal) and publishing (a new one). Fun times for fans of reading between the lines of official statements.

“We’re pleased to have a deal with Triller that embraces the importance of compensating our artists, especially given the tremendous value music generates across their platform,” said UMG’s EVP of digital business development and strategy Jonathan Dworkin.

“Triller has become one of the most important platforms in music today, and these agreements ensure that artists and songwriters across Universal Music Group have full access to the global Triller ecosystem,” said Triller chairman Bobby Sarnevesht.

Triller says that its app has been downloaded more than 300m times, although how those downloads translate into monthly active users has been the subject of plenty of debate.

The last official figure came in November 2020, when Triller co-owner Ryan Kavanaugh said that the app now had 65 million monthly active users, and 231m downloads. Meanwhile, then-CEO Mike Lu claimed in February that Triller would be worth $10bn even at the lower (and disputed by the company) estimate of 25 million monthly active users.

Triller recently appointed a new CEO, mobile entertainment industry veteran Mahi de Silva, with Lu shifting role to president. Ending the hostilities with the world’s biggest major label is a positive start to his tenure.


Written by: Stuart Dredge