Universal Music Group vs TikTok

Universal Music Group vs TikTok

Recently, while scrolling through TikTok, you might have noticed that a lot of video’s are silent and video’s you have posted might be silent as well. This is the result of the contract between TikTok and Universal Music Group contract expiring.

On January 31, 2024 the contract between Universal Music Group and the social media platform TikTok expired and was not renewed. Renewing this contract would have given rights of their music to TikTok, allowing them to be played on the app.

After the contract expired, all of the music that belonged to Universal Music Group was taken off of the app. There are many notable artists who are part of the record label including: Taylor Swift, The Weekend, SZA, Alicia Keys etc.


A list of Universal Music Group’s Artists can be found above.

Universal published a letter on January 30th stating why the company decided not to renew the contract with the social media platform.

Universal takes the stance of them trying to protect the rights of their artists and stand up for the music industry as a whole, as TikTok “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.”

In the letter it says, “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.”

The rest of the letter explains what they mean by each of their points and how TikTok responded.

Appropriate Compensation

Universal made claims that TikTok was not paying their Artists and Songwriters accordingly. They claim that even though TikTok is one of the biggest platforms in the world, “TikTok accounts for only about 1% of our total revenue.”

Universal said that TikTok offered them a fraction of what other major social media platform pay them.

“Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music,” Universal was not holding back in the language that they used when describing TikTok.

Protecting Human Artists from the Harmful Effects of AI

On the app, they have allowed for AI to play a bigger role than they used to. Now, users can create AI covers of songs and just AI music in general.

They complain that it is taking away from the role that human artists can play in music industry and that this “would allow this content to massively dilute the royalty pool for human artists, in a move that is nothing short of sponsoring artist replacement by AI.”

Online Safety for TikTok Users

Universal makes the claims that cyberbullying is a normal occurrence on the app and that TikTok does nothing to stop these actions. They go as far as saying that TikTok does nothing to regulate their app and make sure it is safe for users.

In a music standpoint, they say “TikTok makes little effort to deal with the vast amounts of content on its platform that infringe our artists’ music”

They do care about their artists being safe, but also care about the average user of the app.

TikTok’s Comeback

TikTok released a short statement shortly after the end of the contract that stated that Universal ” has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.”

They try to swing the blame off of them and onto Universal saying that they have had no issues with any other music company other than them, and that Universal does not have the best interest of the music industry at heart

What Does This Mean?

Not only does this have a major effect on the audio of videos on the app, but many artists also used TikTok as a way to advertise their own music.

Social media is one of the biggest ways to get your name out their and advertise new music and other products. TikTok has over 1 billion users, so it is easy to get your music out their as an artist. Artists and Songwriters under Universal Music Group, for the time being, no longer have that ability.

Hopefully, both companies set aside their differences and create a new contract so that in no time, users’ favorite songs will be back in the app.




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About the Contributor
Noah Koppert
Noah Koppert, Writer, WKHS News Director
Hi! I am Noah Koppert, a junior online writer for The Ravine. I play baseball at WKHS, work at Skyline Chili in Powell and I am also on the Kilbourne news team. I love music, including playing the guitar and listening to countless artists such as Zach Bryan, Caamp, Olivia Rodrigo and Noah Kahan. Outside of school and work I am very involved in YoungLife and my church. One fun fact about me is I love Apple Fritters from Tim Hortons.

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