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 February 1, 2024

TikTok removes from its platform the music of Taylor Swift, among others

TikTok has removed from its platform music by several artists - including Taylor Swift. 

NPR reports, "TikTok says it has removed all music by artists licensed to Universal Music Group, including Taylor Swift, BTS, Drake and Olivia Rodrigo."

This comes, according to CNBC, after Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok failed to reach an agreement regarding content licensing. The previous agreement between the two entities expired on Jan. 31, 2024.

UMG has published a letter that it had sent to TikTok on Jan. 30, 2024, before the previous agreement expired. The letter can be read in its entirety here.

The letter, in part, reads, "In our contract renewal discussions, we have been pressing [TikTok] 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."

UMG goes on to reveal what has been taking place at the negotiating table.

The company, for example, reveals that, "[w]ith respect to the issue of artist and songwriter compensation, TikTok proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay.

UMG, at one point, even accuses TikTok of using "intimidation" at the bargaining table.

UMG writes, "As our negotiations continued, TikTok attempted to bully us into accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value, and not reflective of their exponential growth.  How did it try to intimidate us?  By selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artists, while keeping on the platform our audience-driving global stars."

On the same day that UMG published this letter, TikTok posted to social media a statement accusing UMG of putting "their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters."

TikTok wrote:

Despite Universal's false narrative and rhetoric, the fact is they have chosen to walk away from the powerful support of a platform with well over a billion users that serves as a free promotional and discover vehicle for their talent. TikTok has been able to reach "artist-first" agreements with every other label and publisher. Clearly, Universal's self-serving actions are not in the best interests of artists, songwriters, and fans.

TikTok admitted, in an email to NPR on Thursday, that it has begun to remove the music of some of UMG's artists.

"We started the removal late last night Pacific Time, Jan 31st, as we approached the deadline of the [UMG/TikTok] license expiration," TikTok told the outlet.

TikTok further revealed that, in addition to the music, "videos containing music licensed by Universal have been muted."

Written By:
Robert Ayers

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