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The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


Universal Music Group departs with TikTok

February 9, 2024/Midnight 

Universal Music Group accuses TikTok of unfair compensation in a recent call-out letter posted on platform.


Erie, Pa., — Universal Music Group removed its music from TikTok after a combative licensing agreement, leading to the silence of several videos on TikTok.  


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Universal Music Group (UMG) is known as one of the biggest record companies in the music industry and the home of major artists such as Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, U2, and Drake. The withdrawal was a result of a licensing conflict between the two parties. 


On January 30, Universal Music Group released a fiery open letter, accusing TikTok of inappropriate compensation for UMG’s artists and songwriters. 


“Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music,” UMG stated in the letter.  


Additionally, UMG addressed TikTok’s success as largely built on music created by UMG artists and songwriters. The letter also mentions A.I.-generated recordings as a harmful factor that “massively diluted the royalty pool for human artists.” 


On the same day, TikTok confirmed the removal of Universal’s artists. Videos containing music from UMG’s artists had been muted entirely. All Universal songs were also deleted from TikTok’s music library and unavailable for users. TikTok profiles of Universal artists such as Swift and Grande, which usually feature tracks available for users to add to their short videos, have also gone blank.  


In response to UMG, TikTok published a statement expressing their disappointment toward Universal, as it has “put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.” The platform goes further by stating that Universal has ignored the role of TikTok in promoting UMG’s music and supporting its new talents. 


Music is a crucial element that contributes to the popularity of TikTok. According to a letter from UMG, TikTok’s content comprises music more than any other major social media platforms. On the other hand, as a music-driven platform, TikTok has revived several decades-old tracks.  

A prominent example of this phenomenon would be Simple Plan’s “I’m Just a Kid,” which was initially released in February 2022. The childhood-trauma-pop-punk track witnessed a resurgence on the platform shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic. The song regained popularity after it was featured in several TikTok videos where users recreated their nostalgic childhood photos.  


Universal’s withdrawal can be seen as a declaration of war against one of the world’s most influential social platforms. Combative contract negotiation between music owners and giant tech companies has become a familiar topic on multiple levels 

In 2014, Taylor Swift removed all her music from Spotify, despite being one of the most streamed artists on the platform. The mega pop star also revealed the tiny royalty that artists receive per song play.  

Four years later, Warner Music employed a similar action by pulling thousands of its music videos from YouTube. However, these videos have returned to the platform after the two parties reached a new agreement.  

In this case, it is unclear what will happen to Universal’s songs and their fans as both parties have denied making any further announcements. 

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About the Contributor
Quoc Huy Ngo, Arts & Leisure Editor
Hi! This academic years Arts & Leisure editor is Quoc Huy Ngo. Writing is one of his passions and he has been writing for more than one year. Besides writing, reading is also one of his biggest enjoyments (especially anything about art and the fashion industry). During his downtime, he loves to clean and decorate his space, spend time with friends, or just chill and enjoy tiny, beautiful things in life. Thank you for all of your support. 

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