Here’s Why Taylor Swift and Other UMG Artists’ Music Are No Longer Available on TikTok
Feb 2, 2024   •   Kyzia Maramara
8List.ph is published by ID8, Inc.
Feb 2, 2024   •   Kyzia Maramara
Universal Music Group (UMG) has ended its partnership with TikTok and now both their artists and TikTok users are at a loss. After the music corporation pulled out all the songs from its artists, thousands of videos have been left on mute and trending TikTok songs are no longer available for use. This means that if you’re planning on using your favorite Taylor Swift song for your cute Eras Tour videos, you can’t do that anymore. How is this move affecting everyone involved?
Our core mission is simple: to help our artists & songwriters attain their greatest creative and commercial potential, which is why we must call time out on TikTok.
— Universal Music Group (@UMG) January 31, 2024
In a lengthy statement published last January 30, UMG explained why they’re pulling their artists’ songs on TikTok. UMG said their mission is to make sure their partners, like TikTok, “take seriously their responsibilities to fairly compensate [UMG] artists and songwriters.” With their partnership contract expiring on January 31, 2024, UMG wanted a contract renewal where their artists are (a) properly compensated, (b) protected from the harmful effects of AI, and (c) protected from infringement. Unfortunately, TikTok did not meet the standards.
“TikTok proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay,” read the statement. “Today, as an indication of how little TikTok compensates artists and songwriters, despite its massive and growing user base, rapidly rising advertising revenue, and increasing reliance on music-based content, TikTok accounts for only about 1% of our total revenue.”
“Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music,” it added.
UMG continued to say that TikTok “continued to bully” them into signing a deal that was worth less than their previous one and removing music from their developing artists to intimidate the music label.
“We will always fight for our artists and songwriters and stand up for the creative and commercial value of music,” said UMG.
TikTok fired back at UMG hours after the latter’s statement. “It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters,” read the statement.
“Despite Universal’s false narrative and rhetoric, the fact is they have chosen to walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discovery vehicle for their talent,” it added.
TikTok also revealed that they didn’t have this problem with “every other label and publisher” and are enjoying smooth “artist-first agreement” deals with them.
@dailyxsav Goodbye goodbye goodbye #taylorswift #umg #music #tiktok #swiftie #swifttok #dailysav #dailyxsav ♬ original sound – Savannah
On February 1, TikTok users discovered just how big of an impact UMG had on TikTok. Thousands, if not millions, of published videos have now been muted after the record label pulled out their artist’s songs. Users can no longer add audio or have a limited selection of audio from artists like Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, BTS, Justin Bieber, and more.
UMG reportedly expected to pull its music catalogue from TikTok tomorrow. This includes music from the following artists:
— Talk of the Charts (@talkofthecharts) January 31, 2024
“UMG is pulling all of their music off of TikTok, that’s self-sabotage,” said content creator Bobby Foster, reacting to the news.
“The people that are going to be affected are the smaller artists that can’t [promote] on here anymore,” he added. “This platform is one of the only — if not the only — platform left to get actual organic growth without paying for ads. So whether they’re getting directly paid from here or indirectly paid by the promo on here, they’re going to get affected until this is over.”
@noahkahanmusic thanks love you guys #newmusic #stickseason #noahkahan #noahkahanmusic #forever ♬ Angel – Sarah McLachlan
Global names like Taylor Swift, SZA, and Billie Eilish will probably leave unscathed from this beef but budding small artists have a lot to lose.
“I won’t be able to promote my music on TikTok anymore. You’re going to have to pre-save ‘Forever’ now, if you want to listen to it,” said singer-songwriter Noah Kahan, talking about his upcoming release. “I’ll probably be okay, right? I’ll probably land on my feet, right? Right?”
A quick scroll through Kahan’s TikTok page and you’ll see the majority of his videos have now been muted.
Similarly, American singer-songwriter Cody Fry is facing the same predicament. After showing how his music went viral with over 769,000 TikTok creators using his audio in a day. “This is everything you hope for as an artist,” he said.
But after hearing the news and realizing he’s a UMG artist, he couldn’t help but get disappointed.
@codyfrymusic Am i muted yet? #music #musicindustry #universalmusic #umg #thingsyousaid #tiktokmusic #greenscreen ♬ original sound – Cody Fry
“As I’m recording this Universal hasn’t pulled the music yet but if they do, those TikTok creations that are worth more than doubling every single day, those are going to go zero,” he said.
“It feels like I am just a person standing between two colliding planets and there’s nothing I can do. Universal didn’t come to me, an artist, and be like ‘Is this okay if we pull your music down?’ They didn’t ask my permission for this. Do I think TikTok should pay more for artists? I’m an artist, of course I think that,” adds Fry.
“It’s just hard as a hardworking artist to see a budding viral TikTok trend with one of your songs that’s really awesome in its infancy just get crushed by multi-billion-dollar corporations,” he ended.
One of the best features of TikTok is how it lets users pull their favorite artist’s audio and create a video of their own. Using trending audio also helps a video gain more views and interactions. Now that most trending songs and crowd favorites have been extinguished from the app, creators now have to rely on commercial audio. Or, if they’re creative enough, create their own like these guys:
@starr I’m taking requests lmk if you have any #umg #universalmusic #taylorswift #erastour #swiftie ♬ eras tour outfit transition video – starr
@its.queen.ife_ And that’s on creativity #sza #kendricklamar #diymusic ♬ original sound – Queen Ife
As of writing, UMG’s music remains available for TikTok competitors like Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.
What do you think about this TikTok and UMG beef? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Kyzia spends most of her time capturing the world around her through photos, paragraphs, and playlists. She is constantly on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and a great paperback thriller to pair with it.
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