UMG to yank songs by Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, The Beatles and other artists from TikTok

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TikTok’s 1 billion users were set to lose access Wednesday to chart-topping tracks from global music superstars like Taylor Swift, Drake, Bad Bunny, The Beatles and other artists under the Universal Music Group umbrella now that negotiations between the video-sharing app and record label have soured.

In an open letter shared on social media, Universal announced it would not be renewing its contract with TikTok, accusing the social media platform of attempting to “bully” the company into a deal worth “far less than fair market value,” which would, in turn, result in smaller paydays for its artists.

Despite its “massive and growing user base, rapidly rising advertising revenue and increasing reliance on music-based content,” TikTok showed little interest in providing “appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and online safety for TikTok’s users,” it said.

Further discussing the impacts of artificial intelligence, UMG alleged TikTok is allowing its platform to be “flooded with AI-generated recordings,” in addition to developing tools to “enable, promote and encourage AI music creation.”

The social media outlet is also “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,” according to UMG.

“Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music,” the company added.

Universal further noted TikTok is also failing to protect its users. The video-sharing app “makes little effort to deal with the vast amounts of content on its platform that infringe our artists’ music and it has offered no meaningful solutions to the rising tide of content adjacency issues, let alone the tidal wave of hate speech, bigotry, bullying and harassment on the platform.”

The licensing agreement between UMG and TikTok expired as of Wednesday.

In response TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, said the record label giant was pushing a “false narrative and rhetoric” and further accused Universal of putting “their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.”

“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,” TikTok said in a statement.