Universal Music Group Is Pulling All Of Their Music From TikTok, Including Artists Like Alan Jackson, Eric Church & Taylor Swift

Eric Church
Robby Klein

If you regularly find yourself mindlessly scrolling on TikTok, this one’s a pretty big deal.

The app has not only skyrocketed in popularity with well over a billion users worldwide, but it’s also become a massive tool for artists to get their music out to the public.

Of course new artists use TikTok to communicate with fans, share new music, and in general build up a social following. But even long-established artists like Keith Whitley, Reba, Brook & Dunn…have all had songs that are 20+ years old blow up and go viral on TikTok in recent years.

But that catalog of music that’s available on TikTok is about to get a LOT smaller.

Universal Music Group, the largest record label in the world, has announced that they will not be renewing their agreement with TikTok and will remove all music from their social platform after the current contract expires today.

In a letter posted by UMG, the company cites several factors in the decision not to renew their agreement with TikTok, including the platform’s policies on AI-generated content, online safety of TikTok users, and compensation for artists and songwriters.

However, I bet we can all guess which one is really the sticking point here for UMG: Money.

UMG continues in their statement by blasting TikTok for their compensation model, and claiming that only 1% of the label’s revenue comes from TikTok:

“With respect to the issue of artist and songwriter compensation, TikTok proposed paying our artists and songwriters at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay. 

Today, as an indication of how little TikTok compensates artists and songwriters, despite its massive and growing user base, rapidly rising advertising revenue and increasing reliance on music-based content, TikTok accounts for only about 1% of our total revenue.

Ultimately TikTok is trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music.”

Now, if I had to guess, I’d say this figure vastly underestimates the ACTUAL value of TikTok to artists. That 1% likely represents only the revenue actually coming from TikTok, but leaves out factors that are harder to measure.

I mean, how many streams did Reba’s “Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia” get on other platforms when it went viral on TikTok during the Alex Murdaugh trial last year? And how do you determine how many of those streams are a direct result of the song’s popularity on TikTok?

And when Brooks & Dunn’s hit “Neon Moon” went viral on the app a couple years ago, it racked up well over a BILLION views. That’s a billion listens to a song, and it’s hard to say how many streams, downloads, album sales, etc. that translated to.

Nevertheless, UMG has decided to pull their catalog of music from the app. And that’s no small catalog: Included under the UMG umbrella are artists like Eric Church, Alan Jackson, George Strait, Reba, Chris Stapleton, Shania Twain, Dierks Bentley, Carrie Underwood, and a ton of other country artists.

And outside of the country world, the move will impact music from artists like Taylor Swift, Drake, Post Malone, and many others who are popular on the app.

TikTok released their own response addressing the breakdown in negotiations with UMG, and of course they’re putting the blame squarely on what they say is the greedy record label:

“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.

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.”

It’ll be interesting to see if this is a permanent breakdown, or if the two sides are able to reach some sort of agreement, but that’s a huge catalog that’s going to be disappearing from one of the most popular social media apps.

And what are Swifties going to do if they can’t use her music in every post? I have a feeling they might be the ones that force a resolution to this sooner rather than later.

Although I’m more disappointed that we won’t get to see Brooks & Dunn dancing to “Neon Moon” anymore…

@brooksanddunn It’s crazy cool to see all your videos, keep ‘em coming ! #brooksanddunn #sungoesdown #neonmoon #neonmoonremix #countrymusic ♬ Neon Moon – DJ Noiz

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock