In an open letter shared on Tuesday (Jan. 30), Universal Music Group announced intentions to remove its entire library of music from TikTok after their contract expires today (Jan. 31). The corporation claimed that, during talks to extend their partnership with the social media app, they attempted to find solutions to “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.”
“But 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 letter read. “As our 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. How did it try to intimidate us? By selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artists, while keeping on the platform our audience-driving global stars.”
In response, TikTok accused UMG of putting “their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.” The platform continued, “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.”
Notably, UMG owns the rights to catalogs from some of the world’s biggest artists, including Billie Eilish, Drake, Ariana Grande, BTS, Bad Bunny, Adele, The Weeknd, Post Malone and SZA. It is the only music company to ever hold nine of the top 10 albums in the Billboard 200 music chart at once — a feat that the entity achieved four times. The current agreement allows TikTok to possess about three million recorded tracks and four million songs whose publishing is represented by UMG, according to Music Business Worldwide.