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UMG Partnership Terminated with Tiktok

Ari Schaer, Grade 11, Staff Writer

 

Universal Music Group (UMG) is recognized as the most prominent music group globally, representing hundreds of artists, including Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, The Beatles, Eminem, and many other stars. On January 31st, 2024, the licensing agreement between UMG and TikTok expired. UMG decided to pull all of their artists' official music from TikTok, meaning none of these artists' official sounds could be used to create any videos. This leave was prompted after UMG felt that TikTok was not compensating their artists and songwriters enough compared to other social media platforms. At the time of the pulling of UMG music from TikTok, almost half the songs that occupied the TikTok Billboard Top 50 were by UMG artists, a consistent trend that appeared since the establishment of

the chart in September of 2023.


Even though UMG stated that they don't believe that removing their artists' music from TikTok will impact its success, it's essential to evaluate the significant impact TikTok has had in the music industry. TikTok has been a massive launchpad to put artists in the spotlight. One of the earliest examples of this TikTok phenomenon is rapper Lil Nas X. Before Lil Nas X "blew up" on TikTok, he was a new artist, unknown in the music industry. Lil Nas X's first song, “Old Town Road,” went viral on TikTok after someone created a short dance to the song. This led to the song gaining significant traction, eventually leading country music star Billy Ray Cyrus to feature on a version of it. The song spent a record-breaking 19 consecutive weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Similar roads of success were seen by Doja Cat and Megan the Stallion when heir songs Say So and Savage, respectively, became viral hits on the app, helping propel them into the mainstream.


TikTok has been a powerful instrument that has helped popularize artists' songs and careers, whether it be an effort from the artists themselves or a Tiktok user making a video to the song or creating a dance. TikTok has helped popularize artists, like 3-time Grammy winner Olivia Rodrigo, and pushed established artists even further into relevancy, like Lana Del Rey, who had multiple songs become TikTok popular, and Mitski with her song My Love is Mine All Mine. Its impact on the music industry should be further discussed, as it has helped shape and propel music and careers in the 2020s.


However, it is also essential to mention the impact that UMG music has had on the growth of TikTok. The exponential growth of the app in the late 2010s and early 2020s was primarily due to short- form dances created to accompany songs, many by UMG artists. More recently, creating dances has become more out of style, but popular TikTok videos and trends usually revolve around a song.


The question lingers: what does this mean for the music industry? And how will this change impact TikTok? High School of American Studies junior Joey Huang said, "TikTok's impact on what songs will become popular in today's world will not change," but that "UMG artists are now losing the opportunity for great promotion for their songs." The impact for TikTok has been seen as many sounds from videos have been removed, leaving many people with old videos without audio. Junior Mira Goodman-Singh '25 said, "She finds this annoying, as many videos have been silenced, so it's a bit odd." but she believes that "it will be no big detriment to the success of TikTok." But at this time, there is no true correct answer; only time will tell to see what is in store for the future of the music industry, UMG, and Tiktok.

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