The day TikTok went silent
Universal Music Group pulled all of their artists’ music from TikTok over fair compensation and copyright protection.

“This sound isn’t available” and “Sound removed due to copyright restrictions” were some messages seen across TikTok on February 1, 2024. More specifically, TikTok videos that carried any song from Universal Music Group (UMG) went completely silent. UMG pulled their artists away from TikTok, which has major implications for individual creators who can no longer use popular music for their content. 

This includes music from singers such as Drake, Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, and thousands of other popular artists. Besides creators, this rift has critical repercussions for the music industry’s relationship with the social media platform.

A day before their licensing contract with TikTok was going to expire, UMG decided to publish an open letter with accusations against the platform. In this letter, the group addressed concerns for its artists and songwriters because TikTok wasn’t fulfilling their promises. The letter includes three major concerns, including “appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and online safety for TikTok’s users.” There have been initiatives and growth within these areas, but it is not up to UMG standards because TikTok is compensating artists and songwriters very little. UMG claims that TikTok is not paying a fair value for the music on its platform and is taking advantage of artists’ and songwriters’ hard work. 

Another problem that TikTok is facing is AI-generated music. Not only is this platform flooded with AI-generated music, but it also promoted individuals to use AI music, which goes against UMG’s mission statement and what they stand for. Within this letter, the group has also stated how “TikTok’s tactics are obvious: use its platform power to hurt vulnerable artists and try to intimidate us into conceding to a bad deal that undervalues music and shortchanges artists and songwriters as well as their fans.” With TikTok making little effort to change these vast amounts of flaws on its platform, the largest label company has decided to end its contract with the platform. 

UMG’s exit from the social media platform has shifted the landscape for TikTok creators. When the contract ended, there were repercussions on the platform itself as well as the music industry. The feud between UMG and TikTok is still ongoing, with debates about fair compensation and copyright protection in the music industry. TikTok has helped individuals become famous through music—and the music industry has benefited from this too. TikTok is a vital promotional platform for the musicians because it can create hype for future albums and upcoming tours, and popularize hits or glamourize old classics we thought had died. Now, creators are feeling the heat as they are unable to provide content to their viewers using music from UMG without copyright infringement. 

The platform’s content was focused on music, dancing, and lip-syncing, but these all have been affected by the pull of artists. The contract ending between TikTok and UMG was a plot twist that TikTok creators did not see coming. For certain creators, this means that their content must change, and creators will have to become super creative or switch up their style to keep their audience alive.

Universal Music’s decision to withdraw its artists from TikTok marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing relationship between major record labels and digital platforms. Creators must adapt and actively engage their audience using other skills while ensuring their voices continue to resonate in an ever-changing digital world.

Staff Writer (Volume 50) — Karissa is a fourth-year student pursuing a Specialist in the Digital Enterprise Management program. When she's not studying marketing, you can catch her at the gym doing yoga or hanging out with her friends playing poker. Karissa loves writing about movies, music, and anything that she's passionate about. She can talk about horror movies and heavy metal music all day! She also enjoys baking, reading, and fashion.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *