Music from Taylor Swift, Drake and more officially gone from TikTok: Here's why

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Universal Music Group is no longer licensing music on TikTok, a move that resulted in songs by major artists like Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo, Drake and BTS being removed from the platform on Wednesday night.

All videos containing music from the label's artists are now muted with a message noting the sound was removed due to copyright restrictions.

In an open letter released on its website, the record label said a music licensing agreement between UMG and TikTok expires on Wednesday, and new terms have yet to be agreed on.

The label noted various issues standing in the way of a licensing agreement, including artist and songwriter pay, protecting artists from the effects of artificial intelligence and TikTok user safety, recalling Hollywood strike concerns brought forth last summer.

The label accused the social media platform of attempting to "bully us into accepting a deal."

TikTok has been credited with promoting the idea of "budget Ozempic."
TikTok has been credited with promoting the idea of "budget Ozempic."

The music label, which represents Swift, Drake and some of music's biggest stars, claims that TikTok offered to pay its artists and songwriters "at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay."

TikTok responded to the open letter in a statement to USA TODAY, calling UMG's claims a "false narrative" created out of "greed."

"It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters," read the statement. "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 discovery vehicle for their talent."

The platform continued: "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."

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift

Universal Music Group artists list: Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, Rihanna, SZA and more

Songs on TikTok from artists including Swift, Rodrigo, Drake, Bad Bunny, SZA, Rihanna, Adele, Billie Eilish, Ariana Grande, Harry Styles and more were removed from the platform.

Other artists' music affected include BTS, Blackpink, J. Cole, Demi Lovato and Kendrick Lamar, among others.

UMG encompasses Capitol Records, Republic Records, Interscope Records, Def Jam Recordings, Abbey Road Studios, Virgin Music Group, Motown, Dreamville and more labels.

What is the UMG deal with TikTok? Label claims artist pay, AI halted deal

UMG said 1% of its total revenue comes from TikTok despite its "massive and growing user base, rapidly rising advertising revenue and increasing reliance on music-based content."

UMG alleged that as "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."

The AI and pay issues brought forth by UMG on behalf of artists are reminiscent of concerns vocalized by the film and television industry to Hollywood studios during dual SAG-AFTRA and the writers' strikes last summer.

The label also alleges the social media platform, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, is allowing a flood of AI-generated music and developing tools to "enable, promote and encourage AI music creation."

Taylor Swift sexually explicit AI images circulate online, prompt backlash

TikTok, UMG claims, is "demanding a contractual right which would allow this content to massively dilute the royalty pool for human artists, in a move that is nothing short of sponsoring artist replacement by AI."

In addition to bullying, the label accused the platform of "intimidation."

"When we proposed that TikTok takes similar steps as our other platform partners to try to address these issues, it responded first with indifference, and then with intimidation," the label wrote.

Morgan Wallen's version: Country artist hits back against rumored release of 2014 album

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Taylor Swift, Olivia Rodrigo's label UMG pull music from TikTok