Triller & Universal Music Group Sign Licensing Deal, Resolving Dispute Over Royalties

Triller App

Triller app on a smartphone.

Three months after Universal Music Group abruptly pulled its catalog from short-form video app Triller, claiming the app withheld payments to its artists, the two companies announced a new, worldwide licensing agreement today (May 20).

The pact spans recorded music and publishing. It gives users on Triller, which claims to have 300 million global downloads, the ability to soundtrack their video clips with UMG's full catalog of music -- including record labels like Republic and Def Jam and superstars like Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish -- as well as music from the songwriters and catalogs represented by Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG).

"We’re pleased to have a deal with Triller that embraces the importance of compensating our artists, especially given the tremendous value music generates across their platform," said UMG executive vp, digital business development & strategy Jonathan Dworkin. "With this agreement, UMG continues to expand the universe of licensed social media platforms that allow fans to legitimately create and share content, while also growing an important new source of revenue for our artists."

Added Triller chairman Bobby Sarnevesht: "We are pleased to announce our renewed agreement with UMG and our new pact with UMPG. Triller has become one of the most important platforms in music today, and these agreements ensure that artists and songwriters across Universal Music Group have full access to the global Triller ecosystem."

When the two companies clashed back in early February, UMG claimed that it had sent multiple warnings to Triller over alleged unpaid royalties, and that Triller had cut off negotiations for a new music licensing deal. At the time, then-Triller CEO Mike Lu denied Triller's claims, saying that he first learned about UMG's catalog removal in the press.

"UMPG’s mission is to support songwriters," added UMPG chief counsel David Kokakis. "By licensing new platforms like Triller, we ensure writers are fairly compensated and we are strategically delivering growth to the overall publishing business."