Drake, Taylor Swift, and Other UMG Artists' Music Returns to TikTok After Royalty Dispute (UPDATE)

In response to the news, Metro Boomin said "it's about damn time."

NurPhoto via Getty Images

UPDATED 5/2, 9:50 a.m. ET: Three months after Universal Music Group removed its music library from TikTok, including major artists such as Drake and Taylor Swift, the company has returned its catalog to the video-sharing app.

As reported by NBC News, UMG and TikTok have reached a new agreement after falling over a dispute regarding royalties. In the agreement, the companies announced they plan to "deliver improved remuneration for UMG’s songwriters and artists, new promotional and engagement opportunities for their recordings and songs and industry-leading protections with respect to generative AI."

In a statement, UMG chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge said the agreement "focuses on the value of music, the primacy of human artistry and the welfare of the creative community." TikTok CEO Shou Chew added, "We are committed to working together to drive value, discovery and promotion for all of UMG’s amazing artists and songwriters, and deepen their ability to grow, connect and engage with the TikTok community."

UPDATED 2/1 9:30 p.m. ET: Universal Music Group (UMG) has begun the process of removing its music library from TikTok following the company's announcement they failed to agree on a new deal with the video streaming platform.

UMG-owned music featured in TikTok content is now muted, which means the creators behind the videos will need to find replacement audio if they still want music featured. This will most obviously impact content that was specifically produced as part of a challenge accompanying a popular song. When you attempt to access the music library of UMG artists—including Taylor Swift or Olivia Rodrigo, for instance—users will be greeted by a "this music is currently unavailable" message.

See original story below.

Universal Music Group is set to pull its catalog from TikTok after the companies were unable to agree on a new deal over issues including A.I. and compensation for artists.

UMG, which has one of the biggest catalogs in music, has announced that its current deal with TikTok will expire on Wednesday, Jan. 31. The companies failed to reach a new agreement, which means music from the likes of Drake, Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, The Weeknd, SZA, Kendrick Lamar, Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish and countless more will no longer be licensed on the video-sharing platform.

In an open letter addressed to artists and songwriters, UMG says that it has been negotiating a new contract in an attempt to guarantee "appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of A.I., and online safety for TikTok’s users." UMG added that while TikTok is an influential platform for music, helping users discover new artists or latch on to trending songs, ultimately it only accounts for "about one percent" of the company's total revenue.

"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," the letter continues. "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."

Our core mission is simple: to help our artists & songwriters attain their greatest creative and commercial potential, which is why we must call time out on TikTok.

Learn More: https://t.co/yJDQ7FdgNc pic.twitter.com/Lhluz1ez5H

— Universal Music Group (@UMG) January 31, 2024
Twitter: @UMG

In response to Universal Music Group's decision to bail on a new deal and pull its music from the platform, TikTok accused the company of putting its "own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters."

"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 statement continues. "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."


— TikTokComms (@TikTokComms) January 31, 2024
Twitter: @TikTokComms

UMG reached its previous deal with TikTok in February 2021, per Variety, which they said provided "equitable compensation for recording artists and songwriters."

When news of UMG's decision hit social media on Tuesday, Jan. 30, Metro Boomin was one of the first artists to chime in. Alongside a retweet of a person proclaiming the news to be the end of the "TikTok era of music," Metro, who is signed to UMG subsidiary Republica Records, shared a gif of LeBron James saying, "It's about damn time."

Twitter: @MetroBoomin

In follow-up tweets, he added that it won't matter for "unsigned artist or any artist outside of UMG because their music can still live on the platform." The user he responded to said they were "sick of music that feels like it's just pandering to TikTok," and Metro added, "Exactly that's all I'm saying."

He later wrote, "I love the creativity and appreciation the kids show for the music on TikTok but I don’t like the forced pandering from artists and labels that results in these lifeless and soulless records."

won’t matter for unsigned artist or any artist outside of UMG because their music can still live on the platform

— Metro Boomin (@MetroBoomin) January 31, 2024
Twitter: @MetroBoomin

I love the creativity and appreciation the kids show for the music on TikTok but I don’t like the forced pandering from artists and labels that results in these lifeless and soulless records.

— Metro Boomin (@MetroBoomin) January 31, 2024
Twitter: @MetroBoomin

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