In a Clash Of The Titans: The Music Industry Takes on TikTok
Part of the music industry in today's world involves promoting via social media - especially on platforms with mega-influence like TikTok. Artists will tease songs, new artists will be discovered on the platform, and if a sound goes viral tracks can resurge and soar into popularity. You saw it with songs like "Kill Bill" by SZA and "Flowers" by Miley Cyrus.
Well, bad news. As of February 1, Universal Music Group (UMG) has taken their artists' music off TikTok after accusing the social media platform of offering unfair reimbursement to artists and allowing AI to generate recordings using an artist's voice. In an open letter on its website, UMG states,
"TikTok’s tactics are obvious: 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,"
And the drama doesn't stop there. In a brief response, TikTok snaps back with,
"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."
Who Does UMG Represent?
Screenshot from TikTok Jai Phillips
Among UMG's lengthy list of artists are: Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Harry Styles, Blackpink, The 1975, Beyonce, Rihanna, Lana Del Rey, and Lewis Capaldi. In the heated letter released by the music label, they mention how TikTok began to take the music down of their smaller artists, but kept their bigger names that generate revenue for the app in an effort to control them. As UMG's response, they took every single artist away.
What Happens To UMG's Music On TikTok?
@noahkahanmusic thanks love you guys #newmusic #stickseason #noahkahan #noahkahanmusic #forever ♬ Angel - Sarah McLachlan
That means videos using popular songs like Harry Styles' "As It Was" or Lana Del Rey's "Say Yes To Heaven" are now met with "This Sound Is Not Available." The only sounds under names like Olivia Rodrigo and Noah Kahan are fan-made edits and manipulations of songs.
This means both TikTok and the music industry will change a bit. A lot of artists will have less of an interest in building platforms on TikTok, because it's not like they can play their music there. TikTok itself will have to focus on edits behind a lot of their "Get Ready With Me" videos and "Target Haul" clips.
It's a standoff between the largest record label in music industry history and the biggest social media platform in the world.