The Australian industry is backing calls for TikTok to change tactic and pay reasonable royalties for music played on its platform.

Earlier this week, the U.S. National Music Publishers’ Association urged Congress to look into the behaviour of the video-sharing app, which the lobby body accuses of copyright theft.

“In addition to important censorship concerns, it appears that TikTok has consistently violated U.S. copyright law and the rights of songwriters and music publishers,” reads a letter from NMPA president and CEO David Israelite to Senator Marco Rubio.

“Many videos uploaded to TikTok incorporate musical works that have not been licensed and for which copyright owners are not being paid.”

The logo for massively popular app TikTok
TikTok

Despite being one of the most popular apps in the world, “numerous works continue to be used unlawfully” on the TikTok platform, Israelite’s letter continues, and copyright infringement in the U.S. is “likely considerable and deserves scrutiny.”

He adds, “We hope that if Congress looks further into matters relating to TikTok that copyright theft is included in the scope of its examination.”

A rep for TikTok responded to MBW: “TikTok has broad licensing coverage across the music publishing industry covering many thousands of publishers and songwriters and millions of copyrights, and has paid royalties since its inception.”

The problem is real, notes Richard Mallett, Head of Licensing at APRA AMCOS. “Quite simply,” he tells TIO, “TikTok should do the right thing by copyright owners and take out licences to ensure music creators get paid for the use of their work.”

richard mallett head of revenue at APRA AMCOS press shot in suit jacket and white shirt
Rchard Mallett

TikTok, a popular hub for short-form video clips where users can create content that, just maybe could go viral, is massive, particularly among Gen Z.

Owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, the app reportedly hit 1 billion downloads worldwide in February, with the United States accounting for about 10 percent of the traffic.

Music is driving a lot of that action, and a handful of musicians have gone on to turn exposure on the TikTok into action hits, the obvious example being Lil Nas X and his all-conquering hit ‘Old Town Road’.

lil-nas-x-tiktok headquarters
Lil Nas X at TikTok

As reported in TIO, rising Norwegian artist AURORA and her UK label Decca Records are exploring using the platform as a career launch pad.