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TikTok’s ‘iron grip’ could impact artist payments, says former tech minister

The platform has been accused of 'silencing creators in favour of their own self-interests'

By Tom Skinner

A TikTok user opens the app on the phone
TikTok. CREDIT: Cottonbro/ Pexels

The “iron grip” of TikTok could result in artists losing out on royalty payments, according to former tech minister Damian Collins.

The Conservative MP for for Folkestone and Hythe, who previously served as Minister for Tech and the Digital Economy, told the Telegraph that the potential changes to the social media site would be an issue for musicians who have achieved particular success on the platform.

Collins cited a proposed update to TikTok that is currently being trialed in Australia. The new version of the app limits the number of tracks subscribers can use in their videos. It is part of an effort by TikTok to prove that music isn’t crucial to its success amid disputes with record labels over royalties.

The MP accused TikTok of “silencing creators in favour of their own self-interests” and “degrading” the music experience for its subscribers. Additionally, Collins criticised the platform for giving musicians and songwriters little in return for their contributions to its popularity.

“We cannot quietly stand by and let ByteDance [the Chinese tech company that owns the site] and TikTok stifle our world-leading creative sector with their Chinese technological iron grip while enriching themselves from it,” he said.

“This suffocation of creative and commercial freedom must not be allowed to go any further – it must not be allowed to happen here in the UK.”

Collins added: “It doesn’t seem too much to ask… for TikTok to let users keep accessing the music they love and to treat creators fairly.”

TikTok claimed that 10 Number One tracks on the Official UK Singles Chart achieved success at least part because of TikTok trends in 2022, and has been responsible for launching many new artists’ careers.

But record labels have argued that musicians should be given more payment for the use of their material across the site.

Speaking about the current trial, a spokesperson for TikTok told the Telegraph: “Some of our community in Australia will not be able to access our full TikTok Sounds library at the moment. This will only affect certain music and is scheduled while we analyse how sounds are accessed and added to videos. We look forward to restoring our full catalogue soon.”

Last year it was reported that TikTok was set to launch a new music streaming app that would rival Spotify and Apple Music. The platform also introduced its own music marketing and distribution platform called SoundOn.

Meanwhile, TikTok could be banned in the US due to government security concerns (via the Guardian).