Universal Music Group Pulls Drake, Arianna Grande and Other Top Acts from Triller

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

Universal Music Group Pulls Drake, Arianna Grande and Other Top Acts from Triller

Universal Music Group lashed out against L.A.-based short-form video app Triller on Friday, pulling its extensive music catalog of artists, including Drake, Post Malone, Arianna Grande, Selena Gomez, Eminem and hundreds of others from the app.

The app has yet to take down the entire song catalog.

UMG claims Triller has withheld payments to artists and has refused to negotiate a new deal, while Triller said it remains in the process of renegotiating its expired contract with the music giant.


"We will not work with platforms that do not value artists," UMG said in an emailed statement. "Triller has shamefully withheld payments owed to our artists and refuses to negotiate a license going forward. We have no alternative except to remove our music from Triller, effective immediately."

Triller has previously touted its music licensing deals as an important factor in its competition with similar apps like TikTok, Snap and Instagram. In July, executive chairman Bobby Sarnevesht told dot.LA that "what differentiates Triller is we've always had music licenses in place."

Triller said that its contract with UMG expired a week ago and that it already has relationships with artists, so it no longer needs a deal.

"We have been negotiating since then in an attempt to renew. The renewal, however, was just a formality and a courtesy to UMG, as a shareholder of Triller," the company said in a statement. "Triller does not need a deal with UMG to continue operating as it has been since the relevant artists are already shareholders or partners on Triller, and thus can authorize their usage directly. Triller has no use for a licensing deal with UMG."

"Triller's statements are removed from reality," said a UMG spokesperson.

Triller's original deal with UMG expired about a year ago but the two companies had continued working under a series of short-term contract renewals, according to a source familiar with the matter. A couple months ago, Triller stopped paying UMG and eventually told UMG that it no longer required a license. UMG then told Triller's music distribution partner, 7digital, to stop delivering music to Triller, according to the source, and UMG sent notice to Triller to remove all UMG content from the app.

This is not Triller's first scuffle regarding copyright licensing. In November, Wixen Music Publishing House filed a $10 million copyright infringement suit against Triller claiming it had illegally used Wixen's songs by Weezer, The Ramones, Styx and hundreds of other artists in the music publisher's 50,000-deep catalog. Triller's CEO Mike Lu at the time called Wixen's actions a "baseless shakedown." In January, Triller filed a motion to dismiss the case and in February Wixen filed a notice of opposition to dismissal; the case remains unsettled.

National Music Publishers' Association President and chief executive David Israelite has called out Triller multiple times for being loose with its copyright licensing.
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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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The Big Ten's $8B Mega Media Deal Kicks Off a New Era in Sports Streaming

Lon Harris
Lon Harris is a contributor to dot.LA. His work has also appeared on ScreenJunkies, RottenTomatoes and Inside Streaming.
The Big Ten's $8B Mega Media Deal Kicks Off a New Era in Sports Streaming
Photo by Sean Pierce on Unsplash

Hot on the heels of the shock announcement that both UCLA and USC will be exiting the Pac-12 and joining the Big Ten athletic conference, a fleet of big money media and broadcasting deals have been set.

It’s no secret that access to the lucrative Southern California ad market was a big part of the rationale behind bringing in Los Angeles’ two largest college athletic programs in the fold. With the addition of USC and UCLA, the Big Ten now has teams playing in New York, Chicago and L.A.: all three of the nation’s top media markets. (Further expansions have already been hinted at as well.)

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