Music from Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, and more being pulled from TikTok

  • Universal Music Group is readying to pull its artists’ music from TikTok at midnight tonight (31st January).
  • The record label had a contract in place with TikTok’s parent company, but has chosen not to renew it.
  • The reason for non-renewal stems from a disagreement over payments for AI-generated recordings using the record label’s IP.

If you enjoy the music of Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande and others on TikTok, you likely will not see it feature on future videos on the platform following a confirmation by record label Universal Music Group (UMG) that it will be pulling said content.

The content will specifically be ineligible for use on TikTok after midnight tonight, 31st January 2024, as UMG chose not to renew its contract with the social media platform‘s parent company – ByteDance.

The two had an agreement in place, but it elapses tonight, with UMG making some rather damning claims against the platform.

“As with many other platforms with whom we partner, TikTok’s success as one of the world’s largest social platforms has been built in large part on the music created by our artists and songwriters.  Its senior executives proudly state publicly that ‘music is at the heart of the TikTok experience’ and our analysis confirms that the majority of content on TikTok contains music, more than any other major social platform,” UMG highlighted in a press release.

“The terms of our relationship with TikTok are set by contract, which expires January 31, 2024. In our contract renewal discussions, we have been pressing them on three critical issues—appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and online safety for TikTok’s users,” it clarified.

One of the key reasons for the decision not to renew, pertains to AI, and specifically how the record label and its artists are to be compensated should generative artificial intelligence be used to mimic a well-known artist in order to garner views on the social media platform.

“We’ve also moved aggressively to embrace the promise of AI while fighting to ensure artists’ rights and interests are protected now and far into the future. In addition, we’ve engaged a number of our platform partners to try to drive positive change for their users and by extension, our artists, by addressing online safety issues, and we are recognized as the industry leader in focusing on music’s broader impact on health and wellness,” UMG pointed out.

Whether that is indeed the case remains to be seen, but TikTok did not take kindly to what UMG claimed.

“It’s sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters. Despite Universal’s false narrative and rhetoric, 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,” the company shared in a statement with TechCrunch.

“TikTok has been able to reach ‘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,” it concluded.

While both companies squabble, it looks like the biggest losers in all this will be content creators and users. Moving forward, music from UMG artists cannot be used for newly created content on TikTok, and those that do may face some sort of copyright strike if they do.

[Image – Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash]


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