TikTok faces the music

February 1st, 2024

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In case you missed it, TFP recently launched our very first podcast and it’s great! Check out today’s episode where we talk about the new Chief AI Officer role, 3D designed sneaker empires and the “SmartLess” podcast selling to SiriusXM. Take a listen.

In other news…TikTok and UMG feud, startups > big tech, and the ocean just got interesting.

Top Trends

YouTube → Apple Vision Pro

X → Kojima

Google → Jackie Robinson

Reddit → Idris Elba

TikTok → “J CHRIST”

Spotify → “The Thief”

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Sounds like a lawsuit // Illustration by Kate Walker

UMG takes music off TikTok

The Future. UMG (Universal Music Group), one of the world’s foremost music companies, announced that it’ll no longer license its content to TikTok starting today. If TikTok doesn’t bend to UMG’s demands, the platform could be crippled by copyright lawsuits.

Stop the clock
UMG and TikTok failed to craft a new agreement after their last one expired yesterday and TikTok dismissed UMG’s complaints, which are:

  • TikTok under-compensates artists compared to other social media platforms and only generates 1% of UMG’s overall revenue.

  • TikTok enables the creation of AI-generated content and demands a contractual right to force human artists to share royalties with content that modifies their music with AI.

  • TikTok doesn’t adequately attempt to remove or discourage generation of content that’s guilty of copyright infringement against musicians (or movies, for that matter).

TikTok has responded with equal hostility, claiming that UMG has “put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.”

Radio silence
Whoever you believe, a UMG boycott of TikTok is serious. UMG could sue TikTok for using music made by any of their artists, which include Taylor Swift, The Weeknd, Drake, Bad Bunny, and many more massively popular creators. 

Time could be up for TikTok unless they change their tune.

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Bigger doesn’t mean brighter // Illustration by Luke Perrotta with DALL-E

Startups are responsible for Big Tech’s innovation

The Future. Big Tech is credited for having creative ideas, but a recent study suggests that startups generate much more innovation than the large companies who capitalize on them. If we truly prize innovation, we should make things easier for startups — not tech giants.

Patent discrepancy
A paper in The Strategic Management Journal measured the innovation of startups vs. large corporations.

  • The paper studied patent citations in the solar energy sector from 1976 to 2019, measuring the power and novelty of a patented idea by the number of times it was cited by later patents.

  • Startups outclassed large companies by this metric, accounting for about 12% of patents filed but 22.3% of future citations.

  • After two to three years, startup ideas far outpace Big Tech’s in citations, nearly doubling established companies’ citation rates nine years out.

1% inspiration, 99% corporation
While startups have most of the creative ideas, large companies are in a position to capitalize on them and scale them up. It’s not fraud to tweak an idea and sell it without compensating the idea’s originator — unethical though it may be.

But if all Big Tech really does is optimize for growth and profit, maybe we don’t have to cut them so many breaks.

So, now we want to hear from you…


We ask the hard-hitting questions.

Big Tech or startups?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

78% of you voted Yes in yesterday’s poll: Are you into nostalgia?

“From vacation spots as a kid to Ramona Quimby books and The Sunshine Family (an alternative to Barbie), certain things just bring back the best memories, smells, and feelings. Nostalgia can be great on bad days.”

“I never understood why people who want to return to the ‘good old days’ are called conservatives. Shouldn’t they be called regressives?”

“Not obsessed, but I do enjoy an occasional foray into the past and the way things were. (Which, of course, are actually simply the stories my brain stitches together and probably have little to do with any kind of realistic past...)”

“I am into nostalgia, like viewing old photos and watching home videos. I am also nostalgic about the time when people could afford a house, pay for college, and buy a car on one income. I am not nostalgic for Disney+ wearing out the Mickey Mouse, Marvel, and Star Wars brands.”

“It depends. It’s gotta be really good nostalgia that I can relate to. If I actually had the experience, 100% yes. Point being, not everyone is going to have the same nostalgic feelings for something.”

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No dumping // Illustration by Kate Walker

The new ocean pollution watchdog

The Future. Cerulean, a new orbital monitoring platform, is set to revolutionize ocean conservation by enabling more effective detection of marine pollution — and holding culprits accountable. This innovation signifies a huge leap in environmental protection efforts and could transform the detection game.

Nautical cops
Cerulean is disrupting the ocean pollution monitoring game.

  • The software platform uses satellite imagery to detect oil spills and leaks and then find the vessels that were pinged nearby at the time.

  • Even non-experts can use it, meaning that anyone can check out the platform and search for slicks.

  • On top of satellite imagery, Cerulean incorporates a machine learning model that can identify any suspicious trials and assist human monitoring.

The big blue 
Cerulean’s capabilities have already been leveraged by various organizations, underscoring the platform’s potential to influence policy and safeguard marine ecosystems.

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Don’t just take it from us: "The entire Patagonia organization is very stoked about the new direction and packaging design, thanks to Capsule …" — Tyler LaMotte, Global Business Unit Director, Patagonia


The best curated daily stories from around the web

Media, Music, & Entertainment

  • Paramount Global received a $14.3 billion bid from media mogul Byron Allen. Read More → thr

  • The Favourite, another Emma Stone film from Poor Things director Yorgos Lanthimos, is topping Netflix charts. Read More → slashfilm

Fashion & E-Commerce

In partnership with Tiege Hanley
  • Adidas says it’ll continue to sell left-over inventory from its (now defunct) Yeezy partnership after a €1 billion currency hit from 2023. Read More → bof

  • Coupang, a South Korean ecommerce firm, has completed its acquisition of Farfetch. Read More → bof

Tired of using generic, “one-size-fits-all” skin care that doesn’t actually fit? Tiege Hanley is revolutionizing the game for someone like you. Say goodbye to complicated routines and hello to clear, confident skin. Jump on board with 30% off and a special freebie — it’s skin care simplified, and it’s just for you. Catch you in the mirror!

Tech, Web3, & AI

  • AI companies have lost over $190 billion in market cap. Read More → reuters

  • 2023 was a turbulent year for the podcast industry. Read More → linkedin

  • Tech layoffs have scaled to a three-quarter high. Read More → techcrunch

Creator Economy

  • Meta and Snapchat CEOs apologized to parents at a Senate hearing. Read More → people

  • Instagram is testing “flipside,” a new feature that’ll help make fake accounts a thing of the past. Read More → androidpolice

  • Fake news YouTube creators targeted Black celebrities with AI-generated misinformation. Read More → nbcnews


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Today’s email was written by Luke Perrotta and Melody Song.
Edited by Boye Akolade. Copy edited by Kait Cunniff.
Published by Darline Salazar.

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