“With regard to all of these platforms and I suppose specifically around TikTok, we like to be friendly. We’re friendly people, more than happy, my phone is open, unfortunately, 24 hours a day. And we hope that we will be able to find solutions.”

— Universal Music Chairman and CEO Lucian Grange

Grange was speaking on a call with analysts after the company’s fourth-quarter results, and discussing what the Wall Street Journal called the nuclear option, of taking down their music videos from TikTok, in a dispute over fees and other issues.

The company’s chief digital officer, Michael Nash, says the company hopes that it can recapture some of the lost revenue on other platforms, such as Reels from Meta Platforms or YouTube Shorts from Alphabet. He noted that in India, TikTok was banned in 2020, and users went to other platforms — though the big difference in this dispute is that TikTok is not being banned while Universal Music is not on the Bytedanced-owned platform.

Nash said the takedowns only started happening earlier this month, so it’s too early to tell the impact. “We do know that Universal Music Group audio streaming consumption remains stable globally and regionally, both frontline and catalog. In fact, we’ve observed no discernible negative impact on our broader digital business. In fact, we’ve seen a slight uptick in terms of frontline consumption and catalog consumption over the short period of time,” he said, according to a transcript from FactSet.

He also cited data from Apptopia, showing that year-on-year growth and time spent on TikTok slowed from 1% in the two months prior to the end of the deal to -3% in the second half of February.

Universal Music shares

rose 4%, as the company announced a restructuring that will generate €125 million per year in savings, including €75 million this year.

The Hilversum, Netherlands company said fourth-quarter adjusted EBITDA rose 9.2% to €677 million on 9% growth in revenue, to €3.21 billion, helped by sales from Taylor Swift as well as The Rolling Stones, Drake, Jung Kook and Stray Kids. The earnings met expectations on revenue that was slightly ahead of estimates.

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