Taylor Swift, Drake, Bad Bunny, more to have music pulled from TikTok

Ethan Dean
Universal Pulls Music From TikTok

Universal Music Group (UMG) has announced it will pull music by major artists like Taylor Swift, Drake, and more from TikTok in a scathing open letter.

TikTok’s meteoric rise from the oft-maligned musical.ly to an essential social media platform in contendership with Instagram, X, and Facebook is unprecedented.

The app has birthed hundreds of viral trends, often predicated on the use of snippets of popular songs to appropriate their lyrics as dance fuel, backing tracks, or meme fodder. That pool of music is about to get much smaller following a critical open letter published by Universal Music Group (UMG) titled ‘Why We Must Call Time Out on TikTok’.

The letter details UMG and TikTok’s failure to come to a favourable agreement which has resulted in UMG deciding to pull music from their signed artists from the platform. This means some of the most popular artists in the world including Taylor Swift, Drake, Bad Bunny, Ariana Grande, SZA, Kendrick Lamar, and more will have their songs removed from TikTok.

Universal Music Group to pull all licensed music from TikTok

In the letter, UMG described TikTok as “an increasingly influential platform with powerful technology and a massive worldwide user base”. Despite the praise, the company accused TikTok of attempting to “bully” them into a deal that devalued the work of its artists.

“[TikTok] proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay,” the letter read. “As an indication of how little TikTok compensates artists and songwriters, despite its massive and growing user base, rapidly rising advertising revenue, and increasing reliance on music-based content, TikTok accounts for only about 1% of our total revenue.”

Part of this may have to do with the rehashing of ‘original sounds’ from previously recorded content being used in place of the officially licensed sounds from UMG. “[TikTok] makes little effort to deal with the vast amounts of content on its platform that infringe our artists’ music,” UMG stated in apparent confirmation.

UMG’s apparent distaste for how content is moderated on TikTok also stemmed beyond copyright infringement. “It has offered no meaningful solutions to the rising tide of content adjacency issues, let alone the tidal wave of hate speech, bigotry, bullying and harassment on the platform.”

It’s currently unclear whether or not this is a bargaining strategy from UMG or a genuine statement of intent never to feature its artists on TikTok again.

One thing that is clear is our feeds won’t be the same without people showing off their makeup hauls to the sped-up version of Kendrick Lamar’s Money Trees.

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About The Author

Ethan Dean is a Staff Writer on the Australian Dexerto team. He graduated from RMIT with a Bachelors Degree in Journalism and has been freelance writing in the gaming space ever since. His favorite game is the third-person, open world flavor of the month and when he doesn't have a controller in his hands, there's a paintbrush in them. He's a self-described Warhammer nerd and a casual DnD player too. You can contact Ethan at ethan.dean@dexerto.com