If you’re a regular consumer of music industry news, this might not come as much of a surprise given the past two weeks of events – but there’s a bit of a Hollywood Undead related news going on here so we felt like it might be good to cover for fans who’re otherwise out of the loop.

At the end of January, Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok’s outstanding deal for access to UMG’s catalog on the social media platform lapsed at the last minute, with both sides unable to reach a satisfactory set of terms for renewing the relationship between these two corporations.  

A litany of media discourse has since flooded the various news sites, music blogs, and social media accounts close to this issue, so we encourage our readers to go out and research more if they’re interested in the topic.  At a high level though, both parties issued their own statements –

UMG’s statement can be found here in the form of a letter to the artists under their umbrella impacted by the removal of their content from TikTok, citing contributing factors TikTok’s relatively miniscule contribution to their revenue and concerns with the platform’s approach to AI protections.

TikTok issued a much more succinct response via their social channels, claiming UMG has been acting in bad faith with their arguments-

 

Where does this leave HU though?  Well, as with all music rights conversations, it’s complicated.  

For a bit of a history lesson, the band’s first four albums worth of material technically live under the UMG banner.  Swan Songs, American Tragedy, and Notes From the Underground all having been released under the defunct A&M Octone Records – that label evaporated out from under its artists (including Hollywood Undead) in 2013 in the middle of the Notes promotion cycle which caused the band notable issues with marketing, touring and more when it came to supporting the release of that album.  Those first three albums would default under the UMG umbrella as Interscope Geffen A&M was left to pick up the pieces of A&M Octone’s catalog. 

Finally, Day of the Dead ended up being the band’s singular release under Interscope (which just so happens to also be owned by Universal…) when that label inherited the band’s remaining contract for five albums.  Hollywood Undead were eventually able to get out of their existing deal following the release of Day of the Dead, which lead to a lot of changes, culminating in the release of Five in 2017.

In the Summer of 2022, the band members would sell their stakes in all of their UMG releases called out in the paragraphs above to private equity firm HarbourView – effectively trading long term royalties from things like streams on Spotify, or licensing payouts from platforms like TikTok for a sum of money upfront, so speaking of TikTok let’s bring it back to the issue that prompted this article. 

So far as we understand, HU is not directly impacted financially from UMG’s fallout with TikTok.  However, the band has seen two viral hits on the app – “Riot”, which was not part of the HarbourView sale, and “Everywhere I Go”, which was.  The exposure that the band gains from tracks like “Everywhere I Go” and other back-catalog songs that get traction on TikTok may be hard to quantify without pouring over a pile of analytics data that only very few (i.e. band management, label staff, platform engineers, etc.) may even have access to across the various platforms, but given the relative popularity of “Everywhere I Go” on TikTok over the past few years, it’s one less vector for new or lapsed listeners to (re)discover the band on a major social media platform, which is unfortunate no matter how you slice it.

It’s hard to call at this stage when UMG and TikTok may resolve their issues, it’s possible it could be sorted shortly after this article is published or this issue may go on further into the year or beyond.  Our team will continue to monitor the situation as it progresses and keep the community posted on any current events as they pertain to HU.