UMG Expands Spotify Alliance: New Inclusion of Music Videos and Other Content Following Dispute with TikTok

The addition of music videos is included among these new features in the U.S.Spotify recently announced its plans to support music videos, saying in March it would test the option in beta in 11 select markets — which, at the time, didn’t include the U.S. With the UMG deal, U.S. users will also have the option of watching music videos instead of just streaming audio. To watch videos, Spotify users can access a new “Switch to Video” option from the app’s Now Playing Screen. For instance, UMG artists will be able to share teasers of upcoming songs and users will be able to pre-save music before a new release. By partnering with Spotify, UMG still has a way to promote its music to fans, even if its artists lose the ability to market themselves on TikTok.

In the aftermath of the highly publicized dispute between Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok, which resulted in the label removing its entire catalog from the video app earlier this year, the music giant has now shifted its focus to strengthening its partnership with Spotify. Announced on Thursday, UMG will be expanding its strategic relationship with the popular streaming music service, with a focus on opportunities for music discovery, social interaction, and enhanced fan experiences. The inclusion of music videos will also be part of these new features, and will be available to users in the United States.

Spotify had previously stated its plans to introduce music videos, announcing in March that it would be testing the feature in beta in 11 selected markets. However, the US was not included in this initial rollout, with Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, the Netherlands, Poland, the Philippines, Sweden, and the UK being the only countries where the feature was available.

In light of the new agreement with UMG, users in the US will now also have the option to watch music videos on Spotify instead of just streaming audio. The specific portion of UMG’s vast catalog that will be included in the videos has not been disclosed, nor have any high-profile artists been named.

The Universal Music Publishing Group, on the other hand, boasts a roster of popular artists such as Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Bad Bunny, The Weeknd, SZA, Drake, Harry Styles, Kendrick Lamar, Adele, and others. However, the catalog of over 4 million songs was also pulled from TikTok after UMG failed to renew its agreement with the video app.

For Spotify users, accessing the videos will be as simple as clicking on the “Switch to Video” option from the app’s Now Playing screen. The videos can also be viewed in full-screen mode by rotating the phone to landscape mode.

Additionally, as part of the new partnership, Spotify will be introducing new promotional and social features to help artists generate buzz around their latest releases. For example, UMG artists will now be able to share teasers for upcoming songs, and users will have the option to pre-save new music before its official release.

With the possibility of further collaborations on the horizon, UMG’s announcement promised more details to come in the future.

“UMG has consistently been an innovative and forward-thinking partner for their artists and songwriters, actively contributing to our efforts in developing experimental tools and embracing them early on to help artists stand out,” said Daniel Ek, founder and CEO of Spotify, in a statement. “With these upcoming features, artists and their teams will have more power to express themselves authentically, effectively promote their work, and monetize their art.”

The timing of this deal is particularly significant, considering the ongoing drama surrounding TikTok. Apart from the potential ban in the US, the short-form video app and UMG were unable to come to an agreement over the use of UMG’s music. As a result, TikTok was forced to remove over 3 million songs owned or distributed by UMG by January 31, 2024. Later on, it had to take down more songs that contained compositions controlled by UMG – meaning songs written or co-written by songwriters signed to Universal Music Publishing Group.

By partnering with Spotify, UMG now has a means to continue promoting its music to fans, even if its artists lose the ability to do so on TikTok. While the loss of UMG’s catalog would have been a major blow to TikTok in previous years, the rise of long-form content and the app’s controversial move into e-commerce may offset the impact.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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