TikTok Is Now Also Removing Songs from the Universal Music Publishing Catalogue

Only recordings owned by Universal Music Group were initially being removed, but this has now expanded to a much larger number of songs

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Feb 27, 2024

The TikTok vs. Universal standoff over royalties has entered a new phase of severity: the short-form video app has now also begun removing Universal Music's publishing catalogue from the platform, Variety reports.

When the two parties were unable to reach a licensing agreement earlier this month, recordings owned by Universal Music Group (UMG) — the world's largest music company — began to be removed from TikTok, which has easily become the most influential form of social media for promoting music over the last five years. 

The latest development affects a vast number of songs that weren't issued by a UMG-owned label and many artists who have worked with songwriters under contract to Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG).

Songwriters and artists affiliated with Universal may have differing deals in different territories, but Variety's sources claim that the initial move is targeting the UMPG "Anglo-American" repertoire — including writers like Adele, Ice Spice, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Metallica, Metro Boomin, Harry Styles, and many more.

It's yet to be seen where TikTok will draw the line when it comes to choosing which music to remove, especially when so many songs have myriad writers attached to them. Sources close to UMG claim that the music giant has a share in the majority of the songs on the platform, while TikTok's sources estimate that it's closer to 20 or 30 percent, adding that the app has seen no decline in users since UMG audio began to be removed.

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