Universal to pull songs from Taylor Swift, Drake and more from TikTok

It means music by the likes of Lana Del Rey, Olivia Rodrigo and Lady Gaga will also be removed from the site.
universal music tiktok

Universal Music, one of the world's biggest record labels, is planning to pull the music of its artists - which includes the likes of Taylor Swift, Drake, The Weeknd and more - from TikTok, it's been announced. 

The surprising move comes after talks between UMG and TikTok over payments broke down. The label - which ultimately controls about a third of the world's music - is seeking better rates for TikTok to license its back catalogue. 

Whenever songs are played on streaming services, like Spotify or Apple Music, or social media sites such as TikTok, the label that owns the song will benefit from royalty payments. Universal says that any music the label owns will be removed from TikTok on January 31, the day their contract with the platform expires.

Among the artists to be effected by this, the biggest is most likely Taylor Swift, who is signed to UMG subsidiary Republic. Taylor is one of the dominant music forces on TikTok, in fact, the video sharing platform was an instrumental tool in the success for 2019 album track Cruel Summer becoming one of the biggest hits of 2023, where it topped the Billboard Hot 100 and reached Number 2 on the Official Singles Chart.

Drake and The Weeknd - the two other halves of the modern pop trifecta - are also signed to UMG, as are Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Lana Del Rey, Olivia Rodrigo, Selena Gomez and more. 

In a statement, Universal claimed that "TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music," while saying that the ultimately the move is down to pushing for "appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters," alongside concerns about the wide-spread of AI tools across the app. Many users will use AI to post coves of popular songs by a completely different artist. 

Responding to the claims, TikTok said; "It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their 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."

Universal also controls the rights to The Beatles back catalogue - including their record-breaking 'final' single Now and Then - as well as Elton John, BTS and Coldplay.

The move could also very well effect Adele, who despite being signed to Sony's Columbia label, has a publishing deal with UMG.

One of the biggest viral hits right now, Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Murder on the Dancefloor, is also owned by UMG. Following its inclusion in Saltburn, the 2001 track exploded on TikTok and is currently sitting at Number 2 on the Official Singles Chart.

This is the first time that Universal has pulled its artist's music from a social media platform. Just last year, Warner - one of the other 'Big Three' record labels, alongside Sony - struck a new licensing deal. Artists signed to Warner include Ed Sheeran, Cardi B, Dua Lipa and Jack Harlow.

Join the conversation by joining the Official Charts community and dropping comment.

Already registered?

Log in

No account?