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AIMP Issues Statement on TikTok Music Licensing for Independent Publishers

AIMP statement on TikTok Music licensing for independent publishers

Photo Credit: AIMP

The Association of Independent Music Publishers issues a statement on the continuing issue of TikTok music licensing for independent publishers.

The Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP), including chapter presidents Michael Lau (National Chair, New York Chapter), Marc Caruso (Los Angeles), Ree Guyer (Nashville), and Tony D. Alexander (Atlanta), have issued a statement on TikTok music licensing for independent publishers.

The statement comes in the face of multiple publishers in the industry withdrawing their catalogs from the short-form video platform and denying the renewal of a licensing deal.

“Whether or not indie publishers are provided with the opportunity to continue with the current license model or not, there are a few issues that need to be addressed,” the statement begins.

“One, music has been at the center of TikTok and its users since day one — the service’s origin was musical.ly. Music connected to any audio-visual work is used to support and tell the emotional story in the picture/video. Without it, it falls flat. Music is a visceral and cultural experience that helps us express our feelings, relive a moment in time, convey an attitude, etc.,” continues the AIMP. “This is why TikTok users gravitate to using popular and commercial music just like the television series, films, advertisements, and video games that the users engage with.”

“There is a difference when you use a song like ‘Don’t Stop Believin’,’ ‘What a Wonderful World,’ or ‘Cherry Pie,’ vs. a lesser-known piece of production library music, let alone an AI-generated song. TikTok needs to evolve their licensing model and embrace this fact and move forward appreciating the songwriters and artists as equal partners in TikTok’s success.”

“Two, the revenue model where income earned by a song on TikTok is based on video creations only vs. views is flawed and has to change. When a video is created once and gets 5 million views, the songwriter and artist are paid only on the one creation instead of the 5 million views. The industry already has a revenue model that works, and that is a per-stream rate. It is not perfect with regards to the equity, but that is a different battle,” the AIMP statement explains. “Songwriters and publishers deserve to be paid for the value they bring to TikTok, and any revenue model going forward needs to reflect that value.”

Finally, the AIMP concludes that “indie publishers should take this opportunity to fully evaluate what is being offered and make a decision for what is best for their business, not TikTok’s.”

The statement from the AIMP comes hot on the heels of the House Committee’s unanimous decision to advance bipartisan legislation that would compel Chinese tech company ByteDance to divest its ownership of TikTok in the United States. That proposal is expected to reach a vote on the House floor next week.

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