“Sound removed due to copyright restrictions”, accompanied with a prompt to replace the sound, is the message sent to TikTok users, after the Chinese based social media app failed to reach an agreement with Universal Music Group (UMG).
As of yesterday (Feb 1), recordings by Universal artists such as Taylor Swift, Bob Marley, Masicka, Buju Banton, Sean Paul, Shenseea, Drake and others were deleted from TikTok’s library, and existing videos that used music from Universal’s artists had their audio muted entirely. Universal songs were also unavailable for users to add to new videos.
This move has since left some TikTok creators fuming, and others frustrated as some of their most viewed videos include songs by Universal recording artists.
But TikTok creators aren’t the only ones affected. The effects of the broken partnership has also trickled down to UMG recording artists. Shenseea, who was in the midst of promoting her collaboration, ‘Hit & Run’ featuring Masicka, got caught in the crossfire after the song produced by Stephen Di Genius was muted on the app with the display the message, “The copyright owner hasn’t made this sound available in your country”.
The same thing happened to Masicka, who was slapped with, “Sound removed due to copyright restrictions”, after he teased TikTok users with a snippet from his upcoming music video for his song, ‘Most Want’ on yesterday (Feb 1).
In recent years, UMG and other labels have built marketing strategies around getting songs to go viral with the TikTok algorithm. Younger users see the platform as a great way to discover their next favourite song and build out cool playlists.
So if TikTok and UMG don’t reach a new deal soon, the barring of songs could dramatically alter how artists tease new music and connect with fans through the social media platform.
All this comes after the deal between TikTok and Universal Music Group ended on January 31. The renegotiations saw UMG lobbying for protection against AI-generated recordings, online safety issues for users and higher compensation for its artists and songwriters.
However, TikTok in a statement on social media, accused UMG of promoting “false narratives and rhetoric” and of putting “greed above the interests of their artist and songwriter.”