Early Thursday morning, Universal Music Group took its catalog off of TikTok. However, artists on the label were already on the app sounded the alarm.
“A new song of mine is coming out. In a Wednesday TikTok post, singer Dean Lewis said, “My music is going down in five hours, but I have a new song coming out in nine hours.” “So my song’s not coming out on TikTok.”
Lewis is the latest big name in music to have a lot of their music taken off the app because TikTok and UMG couldn’t agree on a new contract. Other big names in music include Taylor Swift, Drake, Olivia Rodrigo, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and more.
Thursday, a TikTok representative told NBC News that UMG’s music library is no longer on the app. (UMG is owned by Dutch Americans and has nothing to do with NBC Universal, which is the parent company of NBC News.)
According to a UMG spokesperson, “Artist rights advocates are speaking out in support of our action.”
The “agreements with TikTok have expired because of TikTok’s unwillingness to appropriately compensate artists and songwriters, protect human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and address online safety issues for TikTok’s users,” a spokesperson stated.
Since UMG’s songs were taken down, thousands or even millions of videos that used music from the company’s library will no longer have sound. People screaming along to Ariana Grande’s new song “Yes, And?” or Taylor Swift’s “Speak Now” are shown in strangely silent clips.
Not only fan vids but some artists’ music has been taken down from their pages too. The sound from a video on Swift’s page that seemed to use the UMG-owned song “Ridin'” by Chamillionaire has been turned off. When viewed on a phone, the movie has a label that says “Sound removed due to copyright restrictions.”
UMG said in a statement before the music was taken down that the problem was paying its artists.
“UMG said in a statement that TikTok wanted to pay our artists and songwriters a fraction of what other major social platforms pay artists and songwriters in the same situation.”
TikTok responded on Wednesday by saying that the business was putting “their greed above the interests of artists and songwriters.”
TikTok has become an important part of the music business and a key part of marketing campaigns for new music since its rise in 2019. With 1.5 billion daily users, the platform has helped new songs like Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” reach the top of the charts and brought old songs like Lady Gaga’s “Bloody Mary” back into the public eye in new ways. This is because the app is focused on music. Years ago, lip-syncs and dancing trends were the most popular types of content on the platform, and they still are.
One song that became popular because of TikTok is “I Hear a Symphony” by Cody Fry. That song was mixed with “Pluto Projector” by Rex Orange County, and it became a famous sound on TikTok that people used to share soft moments or memories that made them feel bad.