The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

The independent student news site of San Marcos, California

The Cougar Chronicle

Universal Music Group removes one third of TikTok’s most viral songs

A recent dispute between Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok has caused songs by artists such as Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, and Olivia Rodrigo to be removed from the app. This occurred after UMG and TikTok were unable to agree to a licensing contract that would have allowed UMG-owned music to remain on the platform. UMG’s decision to leave the app has caused conflict and frustration among the fans who are no longer able to make content using UMG-owned music or who have had their content muted if it contains UMG-owned music.

The story behind this case is that UMG decided to remove the licensing agreement for their music distribution on TikTok which led to the removal of multiple artists’ music from the app. The removal process gradually affected some official versions UMG owned in recordings such as Olivia Rodrigo’s “get him back!” and Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer.” Fans have noticed that videos featuring these songs on artists’ accounts like Swift’s newer song “Hits Different,” had been muted. 

Various videos on TikTok have now been muted which has left users posting videos about how defeating it was to see their viral videos have the sound removed due to copyright reasons. Some UMG artists have even made TikToks using fan-made sounds of their most viral songs on the app stating that they are also frustrated with the outcome of the licensing contract. Some users have even created videos blaming TikTok for the outcome while others have questioned UMG’s decision to remove their artists’ music without giving them, the artists, a choice in the matter. 

UMG raised concerns since they claimed that TikTok had responded to their concern for issues such as appropriate compensation, protecting artists from AI-generated music, and ensuring artists’/users’ online safety with indifference. There was even an open letter from UMG accusing TikTok of giving a low compensation rate to artists and songwriters compared to the rate of other major social media platforms. Universal claims that TikTok had attempted to build a music-based business without paying a fair value to the musicians and has accused the platform of selective picking in removing music by pressuring UMG to accept this unfavorable deal.

TikTok responded that the record label prioritizes greed over its artists and songwriters and labels UMG’s decision to revoke the access of licensing it as a self-service (and many fans share this sentiment). Ultimately the dispute between UMG and TikTok has left fans dissatisfied with the app and there is no telling when or if UMG-owned music will ever return to the app.

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