More Songs Disappear From TikTok as Standoff Extends to Universal Music Publishing Group: Report

The standoff between TikTok and Universal Music Group expanded to the major label behemoth’s publishing arm today, Variety reports. After UMG severed ties with the platform last month, Universal Music Publishing Group will now start culling its “Anglo-American” repertoire from the platform, according to Variety, potentially affecting the likes of Taylor Swift, Adele, SZA, and the Weekend.

The development stems from failed negotiations to renew the two companies’ licensing agreement before its expiry on January 31. At that point, TikToks with UMG-owned music had to be muted or removed. Where the first wave brought down songs from UMG-owned giants such as EMI, Def Jam, and Virgin Music Group, the publishing arm encompasses a much broader artist repertoire; UMPG sources estimated that the company has some stake in most songs on TikTok, while TikTok sources put the share between 20 and 30 percent, according to Variety. It is unclear whether UMPG intends to pull every song in which it has any stake at all, and whether it would be able to.

The day before the licence expired, UMG chairman-CEO Lucian Grainge said in an open letter that his company and TikTok had failed to meet on three main issues: “appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and online safety for TikTok’s users.” He added that “TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music.”

TikTok responded in its own open letter that UMG had “put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters,” touting the “artist-first” agreements it had made “with every other label and publisher.” Pitchfork has emailed representatives for Universal Music Group and TikTok for comment.

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