Why did TikTok remove music from its platform? There was an abrupt change in the music landscape on TikTok when Universal Music Group (UMG), one of the world’s biggest record labels, decided to remove its artists’ music from the popular social media platform.
While the move is said to have affected major artists like Taylor Swift and Drake, it has left many users wondering why TikTok is no longer playing their favorite tunes. In the rest of our article, we will shed light on the reasons behind UMG’s decision and the rumors that followed.
Why did TikTok remove music?
UMG has clarified the situation in an open letter published on its website. In a statement, the record label said that its music license agreement with TikTok expired on Wednesday night. Unfortunately, the two sides were unable to reach a new agreement before the deadline.
In the open letter, UMG outlined several contentious issues, including artist and songwriter compensation, the impact of artificial intelligence on artists, and concerns about TikTok user safety, linking it to the Hollywood strike concerns raised the previous summer.
What is UMG?
Universal Music Group (UMG) is a Dutch-American multinational music corporation that is the world’s leading music company. It was founded in September 1934. Its corporate headquarters is in Hilversum, Netherlands, and its operational headquarters are in Santa Monica, California, USA.
A major point of contention cited in the open letter was UMG’s accusation that TikTok was trying to “bully” them into accepting an unfavorable deal. The record label claimed that TikTok offered to pay artists and songwriters at a significantly lower rate than what other major social platforms pay for similar content.
TikTok quickly responded to these accusations, dismissing UMG’s claims as a “false narrative” driven by “greed.” The platform expressed disappointment that UMG prioritized financial interests over the benefits provided by TikTok, which has a user base of over one billion and serves as a valuable promotion and discovery tool for artists.
You can see the artists under UMG below:
- The Beatles
- Frank Sinatra
- The Weeknd
- Elton John
- Lady Gaga
- Billie Eilish
- Justin Bieber
- Ariana Grande
- Kanye West
- Katy Perry
- Imagine Dragons
- Lana Del Rey
- Demi Lovato
- Shawn Mendes
- Selena Gomez
- Kendrick Lamar
- Sam Smith
- Andrea Bocelli
- Post Malone
- Taylor Swift
- Amy Winehouse
Artists affected by the exit
The fallout from this dispute has affected a significant list of artists whose songs are no longer available on TikTok. From global icons like Taylor Swift and Drake to groundbreaking sensations like Olivia Rodrigo, the absence of UMG’s repertoire has left a noticeable void on the platform. TikTok users also deeply felt the removal of tracks by Adele, Billie Eilish, BTS, and others.
UMG’s place in the music industry
Led by Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge, Universal Music Group holds a prominent position as the world’s largest music rights company. The company encompasses many well-known organizations, including Capitol Records, Republic Records, Interscope Records, Def Jam Recordings, Abbey Road Studios, Virgin Music Group, Motown, Dreamville, and more.
UMG’s ownership structure
UMG’s ownership changed in September 2021 when it became publicly traded on the Amsterdam Euronext exchange from majority ownership by Vivendi. Vivendi holds a 10% stake, Pershing Square Holdings holds a 10% stake, and the remaining 60% is distributed among other shareholders. In addition, a consortium led by Tencent, a Chinese-owned technology conglomerate, holds a 20% stake in UMG.
UMG’s perspective on TikTok’s impact
Despite TikTok’s massive user base and growing advertising revenues, UMG claims that only 1% of its total revenue comes from the platform. The company claims TikTok tried to pressure them into accepting a deal that undervalued their content, raising concerns about fair market value and the platform’s exponential growth.
AI and payment issues
UMG’s concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) are reminiscent of issues the film and television industry raised during the Hollywood strikes. The company accuses TikTok of allowing a flood of AI-generated music and developing tools that could potentially dilute the royalty pool for human artists. UMG claims that TikTok is claiming a contractual right that could replace human artists with AI-generated content.
The removal of UMG’s music from TikTok marks an important moment in the ongoing dynamics between the music industry and social media platforms. As the dispute unfolds, artists, fans, and industry observers are forced to consider the implications of this conflict over licensing agreements, fair compensation, and the role of artificial intelligence in shaping the future of music promotion. The impact of this dispute goes beyond a mere contractual dispute, raising questions about the evolving relationship between artists, labels, and the platforms that deliver their music to global audiences.
Featured image credit: Pixabay