The student run newspaper of Poolesville High School

The Poolesville Pulse

The student run newspaper of Poolesville High School

The Poolesville Pulse

The student run newspaper of Poolesville High School

The Poolesville Pulse

Universal Music Group withdraws music from TikTok

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Shock rippled through the TikTok community when users opened the app on Jan 31 to see that the music of the majority of trending artists, including Taylor Swift, Drake, Olivia Rodrigo, were no longer on the app.

On Jan 30, Universal Music Group (UMG) made a news post on their website labeled ‘AN OPEN LETTER TO THE ARTIST AND SONGWRITER COMMUNITY- WHY WE MUST CALL TIME OUT ON TIKTOK)’. The letter detailed UMG’s criticism of TikTok, citing three main reasons for their criticism of the app: unsatisfactory deals for artists, prevalence of AI music, and increasing hate speech on the app. UMG explained its ultimatum to its community- all music owned by the company would be removed if TikTok did not agree to a compromise on a new contract. 

Later that day, TikTok clapped back with a short post to their newsroom website. Stating that UMG was “greedy,” TikTok claimed the company was putting their own interests above their artists, saying it was “sad and disappointing.”

After the two companies’ licensing agreement ended on Jan 31, millions of songs owned by UMG began to disappear from TikTok. Songs became unavailable to use and any existing videos using UMG-owned music were muted. 

“It’s like missing a puzzle piece,” said substitute teacher Ms. Delaney Gregg, describing the frustration of seeing muted video after muted video.

UMG is the world’s largest music company, and TikTok is one of the most popular social media platforms. UMG’s catalog of music makes up about 20-30% of TikTok’s popular songs, and TikTok has also become a platform for artists to share their music with the world, many finding the beginnings of careers from TikTok virality.

“I’d argue that once you have a large platform, the music that you choose to promote will gain a lot of attention, good or bad,” said junior Brianna McLeggon.

As the feud continues, even more music is getting taken off TikTok. Songs published by UMG’s publishing branch UMPG started to disappear from the app alongside UMG-owned music on Feb 27. This move affected any songs that were written or co-written by a songwriter signed to UMPG. Tiktok-viral songs like SZA’s ‘Kill Bill’ and Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ are among those no longer available.

UMG’s music removal has caused a stir among TikTok users, artists, and music lovers alike. Like the infamous period of time from 2008-2009 when Warner Music removed and muted all its music on YouTube until the companies came to a compromise, there has been talk that this move by UMG may set a precedent for other music companies to do the same. If more music companies start to pull their catalogs from social media platforms like TikTok, it could have a major impact on the way music is consumed and shared online.

Ms. Gregg, who has worked in PR and social media management stated she would not be surprised if more labels “follow suit and remove their music from TikTok if they believe their signed artists are not being paid enough by TikTok.”

Due to the removal, UMG’s artists now have limited exposure of their music to TikTok’s massive user base. According to TikTok, 63% of its users discover new music via TikTok, and 73% associate certain music with the app. This move could potentially have a negative impact on the careers of UMG artists, especially smaller artists, as TikTok has become a popular platform for musicians to reach audiences and gain new fans.

“Social media definitely has a major impact on music and the music industry,” said McLeggon. “It’s all about going viral now.”

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About the Contributor
Giselle Perera
Giselle Perera, Staff Writer
Giselle Perera is a junior in the Humanities program. Her favorite song is “Gloom Boys” by Waterparks and one fun fact about her is that her cat is named after a candy bar. (Hint hint, it starts with T!)  

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