Are YouTube Shorts and Meta's Reels benefitting from UMG's TikTok pullout? - Music Ally (2024)

Are YouTube Shorts and Meta's Reels benefitting from UMG's TikTok pullout? - Music Ally (1)

Team Talk is Music Ally’s weekly interview series, where our marketing experts speak to music industry teams about their latest work, best practices, and smart strategies. You can find the archive here.

It’s been just over two months since Universal Music Group and TikTok fell out – in a big way! –over licensing. The dispute has forced TikTok to remove UMG’s recorded music from its platform, as well as tracks using songs written or co-written by UMPG songwriters.

This has also brought disruption for UMG’s marketing teams, who’ve had to rapidly change their marketing plans to focus on other short-video platforms instead.

However, other labels have also been considering how to adapt their strategies, and whether relying too much on a single short-video platform is a risky move.

Music Ally has chatted to three experts in the field –from agencies running short-video campaigns for labels and artists –who have given us their thoughts on how artist teams are currently leveraging the various short-form video platforms at their disposal. Here are their views.

Are YouTube Shorts and Meta's Reels benefitting from UMG's TikTok pullout? - Music Ally (2)

What has the immediate effect of the UMG / TikTok dispute been?

Simon Friend, COO, Round:

Are YouTube Shorts and Meta's Reels benefitting from UMG's TikTok pullout? - Music Ally (3)

“Before all of this Universal stuff, Reels was becoming more of a thing already. I know that in the States, Reels gets around 20% to 30% of the budget per campaign, but in the UK, it’s not the case.

I think there was a disparity between the markets, but that was kind of changing. Before that Reels was less about creators and more about like the community pages, the meme pages, that sort of thing.

Since the UMG thing, we already tried to diversify off of TikTok. We thought it’s just not a good place to be in, you’re relying so much on one platform. Since the UMG thing, we run campaigns on YouTube Shorts and Snapchat, as well. I’d say that we had equal requests for YouTube and Snapchat.”

Are YouTube Shorts and Meta's Reels benefitting from UMG's TikTok pullout? - Music Ally (4)

How would you compare the different short-video platforms?

Imani Lewis, director of music, Vrtcl:

Are YouTube Shorts and Meta's Reels benefitting from UMG's TikTok pullout? - Music Ally (5)

“The biggest difference I’ve noticed over the years is definitely the type of audiences people are trying to reach! TikTok caters more to discovery and storytelling around the songs, while Reels is more of a platform for engaging and a visual platform where people are looking for music to highlight their content, rather than the other way around, like we see on TikTok.

Reels is always about the quality of the content! So really nailing in on what you want your content creative to be, and finding influencers that really align with that. I think you have a little more freedom with what you can make stick on TikTok, Reels is a much more curated campaign experience in my opinion!

I would say that TikTok is still the leading platform where you’ll be able to convert a viewer to a fan who goes off platform and streams your music. As I mentioned earlier, the trends on TikTok typically revolve around the song (the ones that see the best return on streaming at least!) and are able to help the viewers connect it back to the song or the artist.

Reels is kind of the opposite, people are looking for music that will work with the content they’re making, not necessarily songs that they like or want to go listen to.”

Simon Friend:

“I think the easiest way to go about it is the user base. So I think on Instagram clearly the core audience is 25 to 34. Whereas on Tik Tok, it’s, it’s younger. So when you look at that, from a genre perspective, dance music is squarely 25 to 34.

25 to 34 really aligns with dance music fans, so in that scenario, we would say you should consider doing Reels. We’ve also seen just the type of music generally on Reels tends to be music that soundtracks content whereas I think on TikTok, it’s more equal footing between the visuals and the music. Soundtracks, classical music, and instrumentals can work really well.”

Josh Deal, CEO, Zebr:

Are YouTube Shorts and Meta's Reels benefitting from UMG's TikTok pullout? - Music Ally (6)

“The key difference between these platforms lies in how influencers connect with their audience. Each one requires a unique approach: TikTok is ideal for promoting UGC, Filters/CapCuts and photo gallery trends.

Instagram is better for creating content that deeply engages followers and we’re starting to see independent trends happening on Instagram Reels rather than repurposed content from TikTok and vice versa.

YouTube Shorts is ideal for broader briefs, and we’re finding success in the fashion/make-up/dance categories, thanks to the high engagement of long form material on YouTube being within these niches.”

Simon Friend:

“I think because Reels is an offshoot of the Instagram feed it’s very aspirational, it’s very clean cut. I think Reels is more like that than it is like TikTok, and some of the content is a lot more professional.

I think it looks more like a film than it does like random stuff that people filmed on their phone. You know like a shakey cam, and the more kind of Gen Z visual language. We also tend to see things like family, wholesome pet content do a lot better. So music that aligns with those themes also does a lot better on there.

YouTube Shorts? At the moment, that’s been the most sporadic into what works, what doesn’t work. We’ve seen a lot of major pop acts work there. But in terms of trends that have started on there, I haven’t seen that much of it content-wise.

It feels like the content that works on there appeals to kids as well, which means you can get a broad audience. I think there are a lot of young people on there as a result of Minecraft videos on YouTube and things like that. So we see things like dance videos, dance routines, arts and crafts, that sort of stuff.

“Snapchat is, again, easier because it’s got a much more distinct audience. I think the people that use Snapchat now, have always used Snapchat and they’re quite distinct from the people that use TikTok. So, again, it’s a very young audience, but it’s basically the under 18s that aren’t on TikTok. And we’ve seen the strongest correlation with streaming there on rap and r&b and UK rap in particular.

The problem with that platform is that at least from a marketer’s side it’s a lot more opaque. The platform itself is built kind of around privacy: you post a story to your friends, it disappears after 24 hours.

Since then, they’ve launched the TikTok clone called Spotlight, which is kind of the same but when you look at it, you can’t actually see how many views has this thing got. If you click on an audio, you don’t know how many creations are on the audio, what the top ones are so it’s a lot harder to navigate in that sense.

The labels have access to their own dashboards. But I don’t know how much that informs things. So we know what kind of music works on there but we just can’t measure it as well as we can on TikTok and Instagram.

“I think on Instagram, you have other avenues within the platform. You’ve got the feed itself, Reels, Stories – there are kind of more opportunities to talk about a release in a different way. There’s a really good community page called velvetco*ke, which is like a pop culture / y2k fashion type thing.

And the way that we primarily work with them is images in feed, not video, nothing like featuring the music, it’s like featuring really aesthetic-heavy artists on the feed. And that drives, whatever 50,000 likes, 10,000 comments. You don’t have to talk about a song, you can talk about the eyes, or a music video or the look in a music video. And then, tied to that we pay them to do an Instagram story with a link.

In one of our campaigns, we did an Instagram story through velvetco*ke about the artist. And then because on Stories, you can put URLs, we put a URL to their tour, and their merch site and that drove like 5,000 clicks or something like that.

I think on Instagram it’s much easier to bend it and change it around. Whereas on TikTok, I think, you got to go in, it’s about the music. It’s about the song. It’s much harder to make the conversation about something other than that. Because content gets shown, the viewership is defined by the content, not who follows people. It’s been more like wildfire, which is good and bad that you can’t control it.”

Are YouTube Shorts and Meta's Reels benefitting from UMG's TikTok pullout? - Music Ally (7)

How do labels combine the different short-video platforms in their campaigns?

Imani Lewis:

“Shorts is still a tricky one for me! I’d recommend really understanding the audience you’re trying to reach before really leaning in here. Shorts is still developing in comparison to TikTok and Reels when it comes to music discovery capabilities, so if you’re still trying to see what audience the song works with I’d highly recommend starting on one of the other platforms.”

Josh Deal:

“When comparing the budget needed to launch content on Reels versus TikTok, it really depends on the specific sound or brief. Sometimes, a small budget can create a viral hit, while other times, more funds might be needed to set a trend and give it a push. Generally, the budget requirements for Reels, TikTok, and Shorts are similar, although the cost-effectiveness can vary between these platforms.”

Simon Friend:

“I’ve had variations of this conversation with all the labels, the non-Universal labels since the UMG thing. The question is, do we pile into TikTok more now because there’s less competition? Or does TikTok automatically become less effective because there is less music on it?

The current concerns have been around splitting budgets, so you basically have not enough impact on multiple platforms, rather than concentrating on one.

The way that we’ve been talking about it is, I think it’s pretty clear that TikTok has had the most consistent correlation to streaming. So if you can, starting on TikTok is great. But what used to happen was, people would spend 20k, 30k, 40k, 50k on TikTok and not get anything back. And then you’d be like “Okay, what now?”

The answer is ‘How about more TikTok?’ But now, obviously, all the other platforms have been explored a bit more, there’s a bit more need for them. So you can switch over to another platform, try again, switch over from another.

I think when it’s really, really clear that an artist can work on TikTok and Reels, because it ticks all the boxes in terms of the type of music, themes, etc, we’ll start on both. But for the most part I think we still start on TikTok and then branch out from that.”

Are YouTube Shorts and Meta's Reels benefitting from UMG's TikTok pullout? - Music Ally (11)

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Are YouTube Shorts and Meta's Reels benefitting from UMG's TikTok pullout? - Music Ally (2024)


Why did UMG pull their music from TikTok? ›

It's all because Universal and TikTok haven't been able to agree on a new licensing agreement to replace the one that expired Wednesday.

What is happening between UMG and TikTok? ›

Universal Music Group, the world's largest record label, and TikTok, one of the fastest-growing social media platforms in internet history, could have reigned the virtual realm together — but alas, the two have failed to renew their music licensing deal, resulting in UMG pulling its artist music from the app altogether ...

What is happening with TikTok and UMG? ›

The standoff between Universal Music Group and TikTok over royalty payments and AI policies has resulted in a near-complete blackout of all music owned, distributed and published by the company on the platform — the videos are still there, but the music is muted.

Did UMG remove music from TikTok? ›

The bruising battle over royalties between Universal Music Group and TikTok entered a new and more severe stage in the early hours of Tuesday as songs published by UMG began to be removed from the platform.

What songs did UMG pull from TikTok? ›

Songs on TikTok from artists including Swift, Rodrigo, Drake, Bad Bunny, SZA, Rihanna, Adele, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Harry Styles and more were removed from the platform. Other artists' music affected include BTS, Blackpink, J. Cole, Demi Lovato and Kendrick Lamar, among others.

Why did my TikTok sound get removed for copyright? ›

We remove sounds added to TikTok if we find that they violate copyright restrictions or our Community Guidelines. If you didn't add the original sound, you won't get a notification if this happens, but we'll provide details on the reason it was removed. You also have the option to replace the sound.

Did Universal remove artists from TikTok? ›

Universal Music Group is no longer licensing music on TikTok, a move that resulted in songs by major artists, such as Taylor Swift and Drake, to be removed from the platform Wednesday night.


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