TikTok has had music from the world’s biggest music company, Universal Music Group (UMG), removed from its platform after the two parties failed to agree on new contractual terms.
This means that users are no longer able to use music from a wide range of artists, including popular ones like Taylor Swift, Abba, and Harry Styles, as well as up-and-coming musicians, to soundtrack their videos. Fans have expressed disappointment on social media. Additionally, UMG artists who utilize TikTok to promote their music and engage with followers are now unable to share their own music.
Previously, videos featuring UMG music now prompt different notifications, such as “this audio is not accessible” or “this music is currently not available”.
UMG’s open letter, accusing TikTok of bullying and intimidation, led to the removal of content the following day. The letter also addressed the issue of inadequate compensation for artists and songwriters despite TikTok’s large and expanding user base, growing advertising revenue, and reliance on music content.
TikTok claimed that UMG decided to discontinue their partnership with the platform, despite its massive user base of over one billion, which serves as a valuable tool for promoting and discovering talent. There have been no updates from either company since the removal of content.
UMG’s rejection of an insufficiently compensatory deal highlights their stance as a guardian of artist earnings. However, concerns arise that this choice may exclude their artists from a significant cultural platform and weaken their promotional influence. For instance, popular dance challenges on TikTok, accompanied by a song, have played a role in propelling artists like Megan Thee Stallion and Victoria Monét to wider recognition.
Noah Kahan, who is top of the UK singles chart with Stick Season, addressed the decision on TikTok, saying with a concerned expression: “I won’t be able to promote my music on TikTok any more … I’ll probably be OK, right? I’ll probably land on my feet, right? Right?”
However, certain artists have encountered difficulties in using TikTok as a platform for their creative process. Some have even expressed that it has had a negative impact on their approach to writing music. Metro Boomin, a prominent producer in the rap genre, shared on X after the release of UMG’s open letter: “I enjoy seeing the creativity and admiration the younger generation has for music on TikTok, but I am not a fan of the artificial marketing tactics used by artists and labels that result in uninspired and hollow tracks.”