Bad Bunny, Taylor Swift, Drake, Adele, and Billie Eilish Vanish From TikTok After UMG Pulls Music Over Licensing Dispute

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Universal Music Group, one of the biggest music labels in the world with notable artists such as Taylor Swift, Drake, Adele, Bad Bunny and Billie Eilish, has announced that it will no longer be allowing its music on TikTok following the expiration of a licensing agreement between the two parties.

UMG has stated that it has not reached an agreement on a new deal with TikTok and as a result, will stop licensing content from the artists it represents on the social media platform owned by ByteDance, including TikTok Music services.

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Taylor Swift attends Billboard Women In Music 2019, presented by YouTube Music, on December 12, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Billboard)

The licensing agreement between UMG and TikTok expired on Wednesday, and in a letter addressed to artists and songwriters on Tuesday, UMG disclosed that it had been pressing TikTok on three issues: “appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and online safety for TikTok’s users.”

According to UMG, TikTok had proposed a payment rate for its artists and songwriters that is far less than the rate paid by other major social platforms, adding that TikTok's share of UMG's total revenue was only about 1%. “Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music,” UMG stated.

However, TikTok pushed back against UMG’s claims, stating that it has reached “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,” TikTok responded.

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UMG also raised concerns about new technology being developed by TikTok which it believes poses a threat to artists. TikTok is developing tools to enable, promote, and encourage AI music creation, which UMG claims will massively dilute the royalty pool for human artists and lead to artist replacement by AI.

Safety issues on TikTok were also a major concern for UMG. The company was dissatisfied with TikTok's efforts to address hate speech, bigotry, bullying and harassment. UMG stated that having troubling content removed from TikTok is a “monumentally cumbersome and inefficient process which equates to the digital equivalent of ‘Whack-a-Mole’”. Despite UMG proposing similar steps taken by other social media platform partners to tackle such issues, TikTok showed little interest, leading to UMG being met with intimidation when negotiations continued.

Bad Bunny 2019 Latin Grammy Awards Press Room
Bad Bunny. 2019 Latin Grammy Awards Press Room at MGM Grand Garden Arena. (Photo Credit: MJT/AdMedia)

“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. “How did it try to intimidate us? By selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artists, while keeping on the platform our audience-driving global stars.”

TikTok, however, believes that Universal Music is putting “their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters”. The feud between the two companies shows no signs of abating anytime soon, and it remains to be seen how it will impact both the artists and fans who have been left in the crossfire.


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Last update on 2024-05-21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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