TikTok ban, Universal Music Group, SZA, Drake, Taylor Swift

Universal Music Group Pulls Songs In ‘Time Out’ From TikTok

UMG blasts TikTok in a open letter regarding its inability to come to an agreement for a new licensing deal.

Universal Music Group (UMG) has plans to pull all of its artists’ songs from TikTok following a fumbled deal with the app regarding the use of artificial intelligence and compensation.

The move, slated for Jan. 31, the expiration date for their current deal, now prevents TikTokers from making videos featuring the music of prominent singers signed with UMG, such as SZA, Drake, and Taylor Swift.

The two parties’ inability to come to an agreement for licensing will hinder artists’ songs from being promoted on the popular social media platform, which boasted over 1.5 billion users a month in 2023, as reported by Business of Apps. Upon the determination they would not reach a compromise, Universal Music Group shared an open letter on Jan. 30 outlining their discontent with TikTok.

“Our core mission is simple: to help our artists and songwriters attain their greatest creative and commercial potential,” began the letter. “To achieve these goals, our teams employ their expertise and passion to strike deals with partners all around the world, partners who take seriously their responsibilities to fairly compensate our artists and songwriters and treat the user experience with respect.”

Regarding compensation, the music corporation noted that TikTok’s proposal was at a “fraction” of typical payouts, condemning the platform for wanting to profit off the music unfairly.

“With respect to the issue of artist and songwriter compensation, TikTok proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay…Ultimately, TikTok is trying to build a music-based business without paying fair value for the music.”

The letter also detailed TikTok’s willingness for AI-generated recordings to take up more space in royalties and its complicity in the increase of hate speech by continuing an inefficient removal system. UMG emphasized how the app has attempted to “bully” them into a deal, which they consider unfair and undermines its mission to uplift artists in the evolving music industry.

TikTok released a brief statement in response to these grave accusations the same day, furthering the bitter battle between the entities.

“It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters,” shared TikTok. “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 continued, noting how UMG is the sole company they have been unable to agree with.

“TikTok has been able to reach ‘artist-first’ agreements with every other label and publisher. Clearly, Universal’s self-serving actions are not in the best interests of artists, songwriters and fans.”