May 2

Instagram Algorithm Gets Changes And UMG Relents To TikTok

Instagram, Musicians, Social Media, TikTok

It's been a big week for content creators using two of the most popular social media apps. The Instagram algorithm is getting some major changes meant to help smaller creators and Universal Music Group has relented to TikTok, signing a licensing agreement that will put UMG artists' music back on the platform. 

Instagram Algorithm Changes To Reportedly Help Smaller Creators

A few weeks back, the head of Instagram ruffled some feathers by making some comments on the platform's sister app Threads. Basically, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri offered some thoughts on why creators reach so few of their followers with their content now. It didn't go well. 

It may be no coincidence, then, that Instagram just announced some big changes aimed at helping smaller creators. The biggest change to the Instagram algorithm involves original content. 

Before, content received recommendations and priority ranking in a user's feed based on a number of engagement factors. Now, Instagram is taking one critical component into consideration: originality. 

This means Instagram will now favor new original content over reposts in the ranking algorithm. It will also do a better job of labeling reposts and will no longer be placing aggregated content in the recommendation system. This could be a huge benefit to original creators, since there's a deluge of accounts that simply mash multiple popular clips together, even though they don't own them (or add significant changes to make it a new work).

Giving More Credit To Original Creators

In addition to changing how content ranks in the Instagram algorithm, the company announced some changes aimed at helping attribution. Now, when a user reposts content from another user, that content will feature a clear label attributing the original creator and allowing followers of the account that reposted the content to follow the original creator.

Instagram says it's making the label a removable option for now, meaning both the original creator and the reposter could remove it if they wanted to, but that it may make the labels mandatory in the future. 

Perhaps the most direct challenge to copycats, however, is that Instagram will now only recommend the original piece of content in instances where it finds two or more identical pieces of content. This should hopefully help several creators who have in the past had to go through lengthy and unreliable processes to get stolen content removed from the platform. 

It's important to note, though, that this all has to do with how the Instagram algorithm recommends content to users. It's a huge deal, but it notably doesn't address the presence of this content overall. In other words, aggregator accounts can still exist and people can still repost others' content without their permission — it will just be less likely to divert credit and attention from the original creator. 

TikTok Gets Music From UMG Artists And Songwriters Back

In another victory for smaller creators and artists, Universal Music Group has relented and signed a licensing agreement that allows TikTok users to make posts that include music from UMG artists. The catalog of more than four million songs hasn't been available on TikTok for a few months after the two companies had a very public falling out

It's subjective obviously, but in most circles UMG did not come across as the "good guy" in the situation. Much of that has to do with the fact that it unilaterally pulled content from the platform, even content distributed by distributors that it owns even if the artist didn't have a specific agreement with UMG. The company also started removing content that had any UMG Publishing-represented songwriter, even if they were only one of a handful. This led to many smaller artists and songwriters also losing the ability to include the actual audio when promoting their music on the app.

While UMG's public relations machine has been spinning the new licensing agreement as a victory in which they achieved their goals, the deal is private and there's no way to really know. But UMG's cause suffered a humiliating setback last month when Taylor Swift got her catalog put back on the platform ahead of her new album. The move both not-so-quietly revealed where Swift stands in the fight and showed the hypocrisy of UMG's underlying message. 

UMG Chairman/CEO Lucian Grange said that the new agreement will lead to more money for UMG artists (though what he probably means is UMG rights holders). Again, we have no real way of knowing what's in the agreement and how much of it addressed the stickiest points of contention. 

But we do know that artists and songwriters get hurt the most when these things happen. And, for now at least, they'll be allowed to use their own music on one of the world's best promotional platforms. 






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