Taylor Swift performs as part of the
UMG began pulling artists’ music from TikTok in February. Image Credit: AP

TikTok's new agreement with Universal Music Group NV comes with a key provision: the video app has agreed to remove unauthorised music created by artificial intelligence.

The deal between the ByteDance Ltd.-owned app and the world's biggest record label, which holds the rights to such megastars as Taylor Swift and Billie Eilish, finally ends a months-long feud over compensation and the proliferation of AI-generated music on the platform.

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TikTok will develop "tools to improve artist and songwriter attribution," the companies said in a statement on Thursday, addressing a key sticking point for the music industry as it confronts the rapid spread of AI-generated material online. TikTok has more than a billion users, though UMG has said the app only accounts for 1% of its revenue.

TikTok did not provide further details beyond the statement. UMG did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.

Audio deepfake technology that allows members of the public to replicate famous artists is on the rise. A search on TikTok for videos "Taylor Swift AI" shows several videos offering AI-generated songs in the artist's voice, and a popular genre involves using the tech to create covers of other artists' songs. Most of these examples are labeled as AI-generated, but have nonetheless accumulated hundreds of thousands of views.

In a January open letter, UMG complained that TikTok was "flooded" with AI-generated music and was "sponsoring artist replacement by AI." The label began pulling music from TikTok in February, as negotiations between the firms dragged on. Its efforts were potentially undermined by Swift, its biggest artist, whose music continued to appear on the platform after she released her album on April 19.

UMG was also YouTube's inaugural partner for its new "AI Incubator," formed last August to handle rights management and monetization with AI-generated music on the enormous video platform.