It's Time Out for TikTok 🚫

Universal Music Group

TODAY’S EDITION
  • Universal Music Group puts TikTok in time out, leading to muted videos and frustrated creators

  • TikTok rewards creators with boosted views for posting landscape videos

  • TikTok plans to launch live studios to help creators pitch products

  • LinkedIn opens up access to tools with Creator Mode changes

  • Pinterest heads to Coachella for the first time to meet Gen Z

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DEEP DIVE

Universal Music Group Lets Its Licensing Deal With TikTok Expire

TikTok

Universal Music Group (UMG) made headlines this week by letting its licensing agreement with TikTok expire on January 31st. Consequently, music from its artists and songwriters, including popular names like Drake, The Weeknd, Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, Adele, and Billie Eilish, has been pulled from TikTok and TikTok Music.

Reasons Behind UMG's Removal of Music from TikTok

In an open letter, UMG expressed concerns about TikTok's compensation practices, stating that the platform pays artists and songwriters “a fraction of the rate” compared to other similarly situated social media platforms. The label also raised issues regarding AI-generated recordings and the development of tools that promote AI music creation, which it believes is “sponsoring artist replacement by AI.”

TikTok responded with its own statement, accusing UMG of putting its own "greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.”

TikTok's Turbulent Relationship with Music Labels

The relationship between TikTok and music labels has been rocky, especially since TikTok's surge in popularity in recent years. Music labels have been pushing for fairer compensation for licensing, while TikTok has aimed to retain a larger share of its revenue. TikTok had previously conducted a test in Australia, limiting access to commercial music to understand the impact of a music-free TikTok on usage.

Impact on TikTok and Creators

While both parties benefit from the partnership, TikTok will feel the greater impact due to UMG's significant size and influence. UMG accounts for one-third of the music today, and TikTok's DNA is deeply intertwined with music. 

UMG's artists and songwriters will miss out on discovery opportunities, affecting emerging talents more than established artists. However, for UMG, revenue from TikTok currently represents only a small portion of its overall revenue, so the direct financial impact may be limited.

On the creator side, the removal of music from prominent artists not only prevents them from uploading videos with popular songs but also mutes previously posted videos, resulting in frustration. Creators who heavily rely on music for their content, such as dancers, lip-syncers, music reviewers, playlist curators, and those who use their favorite songs as backgrounds for their videos, will be impacted the most.

Creators have other music options, including music from TikTok's other music partners like Warner Music Group and its Commercial Music Library. However, these options do not fully compensate for the absence of UMG's extensive catalog. This could mean creators who rely on music from these artists and songwriters for their content might migrate to other platforms like Instagram to create and publish, at least temporarily. They might even pivot to different content, as was seen with creators during the Hollywood strike, and also reconsider their content strategy around music going forward.

A Likely Resolution in the Future

Disputes between music labels and social media platforms are not uncommon. YouTube, Meta, and others have faced similar challenges in the past with both large and smaller labels. If history is any indication, UMG and TikTok will reach a resolution and come to an agreement eventually. However, this development could prompt TikTok's other music partners to reconsider their agreements.

Additionally, this situation might lead creators to question TikTok's monetization practices even more. If TikTok isn't compensating some of the biggest names in the world, is it compensating its core user base appropriately, too, especially with the forthcoming impact of its emerging AI features on creators' own livelihoods?

TikTok Incentivizes Creators to Share Landscape Videos

TikTok / Candice Chapman

TikTok is incentivizing creators to post one-minute-plus, landscape videos. Creators who do so can receive an increase in views, based on factors such as video quality and follower count. Other required criteria include videos being original and ads. TikTok also discourages lip-syncing or 'random recording.'

Why It Matters: TikTok continues to incentivize creators to share content beyond short-form videos. The recent discovery of its testing 30-minute uploads and now this moves it further into YouTube territory. It’s also a way to support its larger screens and advertising initiatives. For example, TikTok may launch a new ad format for landscape videos, such as allowing brands to run ads underneath these types of videos.

Landscape photos and videos are experiencing a resurgence, with Apple reportedly developing a new button to make it easier to take them.

TikTok Plans To Set Up Live Shopping Studios for Creators

TikTok

TikTok is reportedly planning to set up live streaming studios in major cities like Los Angeles for creators to livestream and sell products. These locations will feature multiple studios capable of accommodating dozens of creators daily, along with an inventory of sample products available on TikTok Shop.

Why It Matters: This strategy resembles that of Douyin, the Chinese version of the app, which has similar studio setups for creators to conduct live shopping streams.

Providing creators with dedicated spaces not only gives them access to optimized setups and available products but also ensures TikTok's support in streamlining their broadcasts. Travel creator Brianna Seaberg, who has over 675K TikTok followers, echoes this sentiment.

"This will make live shopping more accessible to creators. Last year at VidCon, I did a one-hour livestream with the TikTok Shop team in a physical studio they set up. The support I received was amazing. Having a dedicated space for filming and livestreaming was a game changer, especially since I'm used to filming in my apartment. I believe this will bridge the gap between creators and the platform, attracting more top-tier creators to do live shopping,” she shared with me.

LinkedIn Is Opening Access To Tools Previously Only Available in Creator Mode

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has announced a series of updates to Creator Mode set to roll out in the coming months. These updates will include:

  • Removing the on/off setting for Creator Mode and granting all members access to tools that were previously only available when Creator Mode was toggled on.

  • Removing profile hashtags.

  • Moving the About section to the top of profiles.

  • Introducing the ability to choose between a Follow or Connect button.

Why It Matters: These changes reflect the platform's recent shift away from an exclusive focus on 'creators' and toward appealing to a broader group of people. By making previously Creator Mode-exclusive tools available to all members, anyone, specifically those who don't identify as creators, can now leverage them to pursue their goals on the platform.

Similarly, the option to choose between Connect or Follow acknowledges that while growing a following is a common goal on social media, it may not align with everyone's objectives on LinkedIn. For some, expanding their network through connections holds greater significance, making the Connect button more valuable.

The removal of profile hashtags and the increased prominence of the About section indicate that hashtags will play a lesser role in discovery across the platform, while the About section grows in importance.

YouTube Adds New Features in YouTube Studio

YouTube

YouTube has introduced new features for creators in YouTube Studio:

  • Content Gaps: The Research tab helps identify topics with inadequate quality content on YouTube.

    Public Community Clips: Up to five fan-made clips can be showcased publicly on channels, ranked by views and recency.

    Playlist Analytics: New analytics allow comparison of metrics for top playlists, including views, watch time, and traffic sources.

    Scheduling for Members Only: Exclusive member-only videos can now be scheduled for future release.

Why It Matters: These features bring enhancements to YouTube Studio across several areas of the content workflow, from ideation to reporting.

Content Gaps and Public Community Clips are standouts. The former offers valuable insights for creators seeking inspiration for their next video by highlighting topics in demand among viewers, while the latter enables creators to spotlight fan-generated content.

Pinterest Is Making Its Debut at Coachella This Year

Pinterest

Pinterest will be attending Coachella this year, marking its first appearance at the iconic music festival. Additionally, Pinterest has teamed up with AEG/Coachella for a Board Drop to share the mood for this year’s event.

According to Pinterest, tens of millions of searches related to Coachella, including performers, outfits, hair, and makeup, are made on the platform. Last year, Pinterest searches for “Coachella outfit” increased by 156% from the month before the festival to the days following the weekend.

Why It Matters: Pinterest’s upcoming appearance at Coachella, popular among Gen Z, is fitting as they are also one of the platform's fastest-growing demographics, making up over 40% of its monthly active users. Connecting with Gen Z offline adds to other online efforts that have brought them to the platform, including its standalone Shuffles app.

YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat have bigger Gen Z audiences, but Pinterest can now be included in the mix for brands targeting this demographic

Head over to my website for more creator economy news, trends, and insights.

WHAT I’M READING

BI’s Marta Biino and Shriya Bhattacharya chatted with creator economy experts to compile a list of some of the most useful AI tools for creators.

Whether you want to sell a book, become an artist, or stand out in the job market, having a 'personal brand' has become almost a requirement. Rebecca Jennings takes a dive into how self-promotion and building an audience have become requirements to achieve this latest iteration of the American dream.

Speaking of the above (lol), I recently chatted with The Tilt’s Marc Maxhimer for their content entrepreneur spotlight series and shared my story. It touches upon my early days of hip-hop blogging while working in clinical cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, changing careers, and writing this newsletter, which was just named one of the best newsletters to subscribe to in 2024 by Buffer.

THANK YOU

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