| 17 Apr 2024
Universal Music Group and TikTok clash escalates as UMPG Songwriters' tracks removed

MUMBAI: The conflict between TikTok and Universal Music Group (UMG) escalated this week as songs written by Universal Music Publishing Group’s songwriters began to be removed from the short-form video platform. This move follows UMG's removal of its recorded catalog from TikTok nearly a month ago after failing to reach a new licensing agreement with the platform.

Initially, the removal in January only affected tracks from recording artists signed to UMG labels like Interscope, Republic, or Def Jam. However, the latest removal extends to music from other record labels as well, impacting songs written or co-written by UMPG songwriters. This broader removal affects artists across various labels, including Sony and Warner, who have publishing deals with UMPG. While some artists may not have a record deal with UMG, they have a publishing deal with UMPG.

For example, artists like Harry Styles, Steve Lacy, and SZA are signed to Sony-owned Columbia and RCA, but UMPG is their publisher. As a result, popular TikTok tracks like “As It Was,” “Bad Habit,” and “Kill Bill” are now inaccessible. Similarly, Bad Bunny, signed to the independent label Rimas, also has a publishing deal with UMPG, resulting in his music being removed from TikTok.  
Representatives for UMG and TikTok have not yet responded to requests for comment. In UMG’s previous statement, the company cited concerns over low payments, the use of AI, and user safety as key obstacles to reaching a licensing deal with TikTok. UMG noted that TikTok represents only about 1 percent of the record company’s revenue.