If you’ve ever used the video sharing app Triller, you may be surprised to find that some of your favorite music is no longer available. If you’ve never used Triller, you’re not missing much. The video sharing app has reportedly removed songs from its music catalog amidst a major debt to certain music publishing companies.
Billboard broke the news that as of yesterday, Triller’s music catalog has not exactly been nuked, but it has sufficiently hemorrhaged. The outlet reports that the app has pulled music belonging to Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music and Merlin, the latter of which is a licensing company that services independent musicians.
“[The company] is reassessing each of our label deals as they come due as our catalogue music usage is a small fraction of our overall business with creators,” Triller told Billboard. “Some labels are more used than others and if we can make financial arrangements which make sense for the platform, on a label by label basis, we will. In other cases the usage does not justify the cost.”
Billboard elaborated that a lawsuit filed by Sony Music Entertainment this past August alleged that Triller has failed to pay for its music catalog in the past and that in March 2022, the platform’s failure to make monthly payments has resulted in millions of dollars in debts owed to Sony.
Triller was originally released in 2015, and is a video sharing social media app where users can select a song and make a short music video, with editing fueled by some mysterious artificial intelligence. The company behind the app has been super vague about how many people use the app, but if you’re not familiar with it, it’s probably because a larger, more widely used behemoth is already operating in its place: TikTok. Triller previously reported an increase from 13 million to 65 million active users from October 2019 to August 2020. In August 2020, TikTok said it had 100 million active users, and celebrated reaching 1 billion users just over a year later.
It’s clear how this recent blow by Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music and Merlin could be a huge issue for a platform that’s trying to compete with an already established—and arguably more favored—rival such as TikTok, which is absolutely dominating the short form music-based video sharing role in the social media landscape.