Universal Music Group To Pull Songs From TikTok Due To Failure To Reach Agreement

A view of the Universal Music Group (UMG) headquarters is seen on February 9, 2021 in Santa Monica, California. – UMG and TikTok announced on February 8, 2021 a global agreement that “significantly expands and enhances the companies existing relationship” and will allow TikTok users “to incorporate clips from UMG’s full catalog of music”. (Photo by VALERIE MACON / AFP) (Photo by VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN’s Elizabeth Volberding
2:04 PM – Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Universal Music Group, the world’s leading music corporation, has announced in a statement that it is removing its songs on the video platform TikTok due to “songwriters’ and artists’ lack of payment.”


However, detractors have maintained that the company is simply “pretending to care” about songwriters and artists, and in actuality, the group just wants to make more money.

On Wednesday evening, TikTok’s music library, including many songs by artists like Drake, Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, and many more, will be erased unless the social media platform and Universal Music Group (UMG) can come to an agreement regarding compensation.

With the ability to incorporate music from major record label catalogs into their videos, TikTok’s estimated 1.5 billion monthly users make it a significant platform in the contemporary music industry. 

However, UMG announced early on Wednesday that it would remove the tracks due to songwriters’ and artists’ lack of payment.

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

“We recognize the challenges that TikTok’s actions will cause, and do not underestimate what this will mean to our artists and their fans who, unfortunately, will be among those subjected to the near-term consequences of TikTok’s unwillingness to strike anything close to a market-rate deal and meaningfully address its obligations as a social platform,” UMG added.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese business ByteDance, provided a scathing response of its own, accusing UMG of prioritizing “their own greed above the interests of artists and songwriters.”

Even though TikTok artists accounted for eight out of 10 of the most well-known bands and singers on TikTok last year, according to UMG, the platform only generates 1% of its advertising revenue. Roughly 60% of videos on TikTok have music in them.

One of the supposed “Big Three” global music companies is UMG, which is owned by an American-Dutchman. Among the many artists it has licensed are Coldplay, Adele, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, SZA, Elton John, Bob Dylan, U2, and many more famous artists.

In a letter to its artists labeled as “Why We Must Call Time Out on TikTok,” UMG stated “ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music.”

In addition, UMG expressed concern about the acceleration of artificial intelligence (AI) tools that are being utilized in TikTok videos and their impact on intellectual property. The record label also voiced its dissatisfaction with the volume of content that violates copyright and “a tidal wave of hate speech, bigotry, bullying and harassment.”

“As our negotiations continued, TikTok attempted to bully us into accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value and not reflective of their exponential growth,” UMG said.

UMG additionally reported that TikTok attempted to instill fear by “selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artists,” and maintaining “audience-driving global stars.”

“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,” TikTok said.

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