jakub | April 11, 2024

Taylor Swift’s music returns to TikTok after being removed by Universal Music Group

Taylor Swift’s music has returned to TikTok, after her label Universal withdrew all of their artists from the platform earlier this year.

In January, Universal Music Group (UMG) announced that it would withdraw its artists’ songs from the platform, citing unfair compensation for the artists and the harmful effects of AI.

But now, as reported by Variety, Swift’s catalogue has returned to the site, which may be a consequence of the fact that the singer now owns the masters to her recordings.

Other artists signed to the label continue to be absent from TikTok, including Bad BunnyThe WeekndDrakeBillie EilishJustin BieberAdeleColdplayJ BalvinPost Malone and Sophie Ellis-Bextor.

Taylor Swift performs during “Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour” at the National Stadium on March 02, 2024 in Singapore. (Photo by Ashok Kumar/TAS24/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management)

The timing is opportune, as Swift’s latest album ‘The Tortured Poets Department’ is released next Friday (April 19).

At the time, UMG explained that its licensing agreement with TikTok expired on January 31, and that negotiations to renew the contract had fallen short.

“In our contract renewal discussions, we have been pressing [TikTok] on three critical issues—appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and online safety for TikTok’s users.”

“TikTok proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay”, which it says accounts for one per cent of its revenue. “Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music,” UMG wrote.

They went on to claim that TikTok “encourages AI music creation on the platform itself” by developing tools to support the cause while “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”.

UMG also alleged that TikTok resorted to “intimidation” when UMG proposed the platform “take similar steps as our other partner platforms to try to address these issues”. UMG also alleged that TikTok tried 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” by “selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artists, while keeping on the platform our audience-driving global stars”.

“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,” UMG added.

TikTok published its own statement in response to UMG, accusing the publisher of pushing a “false narrative and rhetoric” and for putting its “own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters”.

TikTok’s short statement notes that UMG has “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”.

In February, TikTok confirmed that it had also begun to remove songs from songwriters signed with Universal Music Publishing Group.

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