Beyoncé makes history with 'Texas Hold 'Em,' but TikTok is talking about her unreleased track 'Donk'

Beyoncé's unreleased song is trending on the platform, but some posts have had the music removed.

Beyoncé at the Grammys, Feb. 4. (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Beyoncé has officially entered not only her “country era” but also her “history-making country era,” as her newly released singles “Texas Hold ’Em” and “16 Carriages” hit No. 1 and No. 9, respectively, on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

In addition to this new phase of her career, fans and TikTokers are interested in one tune in particular that you won’t find on any chart: her unreleased song "Donk" from the singer’s self-titled era. The song was reportedly recorded during sessions dedicated to Beyoncé’s fifth studio album, Beyoncé, released in 2013.

While the song was registered with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers as an official track — which designates Beyoncé as the creator — it never was officially released. In September 2023, "Donk" was leaked on X, formerly known as Twitter, and TikTokers have now created a viral dance trend around it.

Currently, one version of the song has over 96,000 posts credited to it. However, other versions of the sound are unavailable on several videos, even ones with hundreds of thousands of views.

'Labels can require take-downs of an unreleased song'

Recently, several artists have had their music removed from TikTok due to negotiation disputes between music labels and the platform. Universal Music Group (UMG) started pulling its songs from TikTok on Jan. 31 because the two sides were at an impasse with their licensing deal. As a result, songs from artists such as Drake, Taylor Swift and Muni Long — who’s single “Made for Me” was viral at the time — were taken down.

While Beyoncé’s "Donk" is an unreleased track, she and her label have the ability to act similarly to UMG when it comes to removing the song from the platform.

“Labels can require take-downs of an unreleased song,” Vickie Nauman, music tech consultant and founder of Los Angeles-based consultancy and advisory firm CrossBorderWorks, told Yahoo News in an email. CrossBorderWorks provides services to "help navigate the complex global digital music landscape," according to its website.

Yahoo News reached out to Parkwood Entertainment, Beyoncé’s management company, but didn’t receive a response.

Although some of the bigger sound clips involving "Donk" are currently unavailable, some users have still found a way to use the song in their posts. Whether it's used with a remix, different title or even a personal recreation of the song, TikTokers have found loopholes to still include their favorite songs in content.

Drew Walls (@drewwalls10), who’s known for using Drake songs in his posts, had the sound removed from many of his most popular videos. Still, he found a Drake audio that he was able to use in his most recent post.

How platforms like TikTok are protected from users uploading unreleased music

Scrubbing the platform of all unreleased music can be a challenge for multiple reasons. In fact, even though the songs are copyrighted, platforms aren’t always liable.

“Platforms that enable end users to upload music and assets have some level of protection under safe harbor laws, while business relationship pressure will continue on takedowns and content management from licensors,” Nauman said.

According to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, various Internet companies are protected against the possibility of one of their users copying creative work illegally. While it doesn’t completely absolve companies from responsibility, it makes the process harder for artists and companies to scan for every infringement.

“As we know in our connected world, once something is out in the wild, it's difficult to fully put the toothpaste back in the tube,” Nauman said.