TikTok Faces Song Removal Threat as Universal Music Demands Better Payment Terms
Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s largest record label, is threatening to pull all of its artists’ music from TikTok today after failed licensing negotiations. Such a move would block TikTok creators from using songs by Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, The Weeknd, Drake and other stars signed to UMG labels.
UMG claims talks broke down after TikTok sought lower royalty rates than paid by competitors, attempting to “bully” the label despite the app’s exponential growth. TikTok counters it provides valuable marketing that supports artists, and UMG chose to walk away rather than accept a fair deal.
Losing access to UMG’s sizable catalog would impair TikTok, given its parent ByteDance tallies over 3 billion monthly active users across apps. But UMG concedes being cut off will also “mean a lot” for affected artists and fans.
While framing its stance as a stand against unsuitable terms, UMG notes TikTok currently accounts for only around 1% of its total revenue. Still, permitting the impasse may aim to pressure TikTok as much as flex label leverage. With TikTok usage booming but royalties lagging rivals, UMG seems unwilling to budge unless ByteDance meets lucrative standards set by other social platforms.