TikTok Users Just Lost Access to Music From Taylor Swift, Rihanna and More Amid an AI-Inflamed Clash — Here's What Happened Universal Music Group has not renewed its licensing agreement with TikTok, citing insufficient compensation for artists and songwriters.
Music from some of the biggest artists in the world has been pulled from TikTok.
Universal Music Group withdrew TikTok's access to its extensive music catalog, which includes songs from Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Rihanna, and more, following the expiration of a licensing agreement and failure to secure "appropriate compensation," the company said in a statement.
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The decision, which goes into effect today, impacts TikTok's user base of more than 1 billion, CNN Business reported. According to Universal, the offer from TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese tech giant ByteDance, was a "fraction" compared to what other social-media platforms provide in terms of royalty fees.
TikTok accused Universal of prioritizing its "own greed" in the matter. "TikTok has been able to reach 'artist-first' agreements with every other label and publisher," the company said in a statement. "Clearly, Universal's self-serving actions are not in the best interests of artists, songwriters and fans."
Universal's move highlights the ongoing tension over fair revenue distribution in the digital age — and the controversial escalation of AI-generated music.
Universal claims that artists and songwriters suffer from TikTok's increased reliance on such content, and it has accused the platform of being indifferent to both the online safety of users and the protection of musicians from AI's "harmful effects," per the statement.
AI-generated renditions of popular artists singing each other's songs have gone viral on the platform — with faux versions of Drake covering singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat, Michael Jackson covering The Weeknd, and Pop Smoke covering Ice Spice's "In Ha Mood" garnering tens of millions of views, The Verge reported.
TikTok's user guidelines require creators to flag when content is made using AI tools.
According to Universal, despite TikTok's "massive and growing user base" and "rapidly rising advertising revenue," the social-media platform makes up just about 1% of its total revenue.