- Universal Music Group (UMG) has removed its music from TikTok after failing to reach a licensing agreement with the social media company, muting countless videos.
- UMG wants TikTok to pay fair value for its artists’ music, while TikTok accuses UMG of prioritizing greed over artists and songwriters.
- Users can still use copyrighted music not owned by UMG in their TikTok videos, but using UMG songs risks video copyright strikes.
Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, and dozens of other artists’ music has been removed from TikTok. Thousands of videos posted to TikTok using these songs have been muted and users are unable to create new content using their songs. So what has happened?
UMG Removes Music From TikTok
Some of the most popular music in the world was removed from TikTok on January 31, 2024, after Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok couldn’t come to a licensing agreement. UMG is a music company that produces and markets music from some of the biggest artists in the world.
UMG used to license the music of its artists to TikTok, so that the music could be used as sounds on the video-based social platform. Users used to be able to select the song and record a TikTok with the sound in the background.
If you try searching for any UMG music on TikTok now, you won’t be able to find it. And if you have any old TikToks with UMG sounds on your account, you will find that they have been muted.
Some of the artists under UMG include Taylor Swift, Drake, Olivia Rodrigo, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, Harry Styles, Ice Spice, Selena Gomez, and dozens more.
This means that videos from viral trends on TikTok that use popular songs are simply silent instead. Some still retain the music, but when you click on the sound, you are greeted with an error that says This sound isn’t available.
You may also notice that many TikTokers have shifted to using copyright-free sounds or other music not owned by UMG. You can also make your own sounds on TikTok.
Will UMG’s Music Ever Return to TikTok?
Until UMG and TikTok can agree on a licensing contract, your favorite music will remain off TikTok. There has been no word from either company on if a deal will be made.
Both UMG and TikTok have released statements about removing the songs.
UMG said in its statement: “Ultimately, TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music.”
It says that TikTok’s current pay rate for artists needs to be closer to what other social media platforms play. UMG says it wants to protect its artists from being taken advantage of.
TikTok said in its statement: “It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.”
The company added that it has been able to come to agreements with several other major music companies.
Many TikTok users are hoping the companies can come to an agreement, so they can use their favorite songs for their videos again. UMG gets a lot of free promotion from fans using its music in their videos.
Can I Still Use Copyrighted Music in My TikTok Videos?
You can use copyrighted music that is not owned by UMG. It is easy to find trending songs available on TikTok.
If you use a UMG song in your TikTok video, you risk it being taken down and getting a copyright strike.
Muted TikToks will stay silent unless UMG possibly returns their music to TikTok. There is no way to add a different sound to a video that is already posted.
The disagreement between UMG and TikTok is isolated, meaning it is not affecting other music companies’ decision to have their music on TikTok. So, now is a great time to discover other new music on the app that you may not have considered before.