TikTok Expands ‘Add to Music App’ Availability Amid UMG Dispute

TikTok has brought Add to Music App to over 160 more nations amid a licensing dispute with Universal Music. Photo Credit: Nik

What Universal Music licensing dispute? TikTok has officially expanded its “Add to Music App” feature to 163 additional countries.

Despite a less-than-ideal situation and rocky negotiations between TikTok and Universal Music Group, the video platform is still plowing ahead with its music initiatives.

Initially released (in the US and the UK) in November, Add to Music App, as its name suggests, enables TikTok users to save songs to Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. As we previously reported, the straightforward process involves selecting the namesake button (situated conspicuously on video and artist pages) and then tapping a preferred service, where the track at hand will be added to a default playlist.

Designed to capitalize on TikTok’s potential value as a music discovery tool, Add to Music App arrived in 19 other nations in December prior to today’s comparatively comprehensive expansion.

The latter includes but certainly isn’t limited to Belgium, Norway, Sri Lanka, and Egypt. Moreover, factoring for a few exceptions (chief among them India, where TikTok has for years been outlawed), the move means that Add to Music App is now available in the vast majority of countries around the globe.

Needless to say, the highly controversial app’s users in these nations are unable to access (or, in turn, save to streaming playlists) tracks from Universal Music’s many artists. Bearing in mind the companies’ well-documented licensing showdown and the timing of today’s news, Add to Music App’s dramatically bolstered availability may well be one component of a broader strategy on the part of TikTok.

It’s unclear whether UMG will feel a material pinch from this and related moves, having emphasized last month TikTok’s seemingly small contribution to its total revenue. But the absence of the world’s biggest music company from TikTok is, of course, impacting the app as well – especially given songs’ historical role in on-platform media.

On Twitter/X, ticked-off fans on both sides of the dispute are continuing to weigh in, with some taking aim at UMG and others signaling that TikTok has become less interesting in the wake of the mass-muting of the major label’s catalog.

“Universal Music made the biggest mistake of their life taking their music off of TikTok because that is literally where I find my new music. 🤠🤠 No one listens to the radio anymore buddies,” penned an irked observer.

(Incidentally, the latest-available data suggests that terrestrial radio remains rather popular in the U.S., where stations pay for the use of compositions but not recordings.)

“I don’t know if it’s cause of the ‘universal music’ thingy, but TikTok has become boring,” opined a fan of the opposite position.

While time will likely reveal which company is having a harder time grappling with the episode’s fallout, it should be mentioned in conclusion that UMG has expressed qualms relating not only to monetary terms, but AI policies and allegedly harmful content. TikTok will presumably have to assuage the AI and content concerns, seemingly more difficult to address than purely financial hang-ups, before Universal Music considers inking any sort of renewed pact.