Universal Music Group is calling out Triller for unpaid bills, setting off a battle with the startup over music rights. Universal took down its music from Triller, which had been trying to become a TikTok-like social media darling, but this action could hobble its path.
Early Friday, UMG sent notice that it was ready to disassociate itself from Triller, which is a music and video platform that has attracted some big-name creators. Triller has a host of music deals with major labels. The music is used in videos created by users of the service, much like how music infuses TikTok and Instagram.
“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.”
UPDATE: A Triller spokesperson has come out and said that the company denies that it held back any payments on artists. Triller said that a deal it had with UMG expired this week, and that the subject of timely payments could be part of the negotiating process. The spokesperson said in an e-mail that UMG was looking for “negotiating leverage.” Triller also claimed it “has no use for a licensing deal with UMG.”
“We categorically deny we have withheld any artist payments,” Triller’s spokesperson said in the statement.
“It is unfortunate UMG decided to use the press as its ‘negotiating leverage’ when they realized we aren't going to be held hostage,” the spokesperson said. “UMG is well aware any agreement was just out of respect and courtesy, not necessity. We have been operating without it and there has been no change in our business.”
On Friday afternoon, a UMG spokesperson responded in an e-mail, calling Triller’s statements “removed from reality.”