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Universal Music Group Removes Songs From TikTok as Royalty Battle Continues 

Photo from Alexander Shatov via Unsplash

Universal Music Group Removes Songs From TikTok as Royalty Battle Continues 

By Movieguide® Contributor 

The world’s largest music company and the fifth largest social media platform, TikTok, are still going head-to-head.  

The bruising battle over royalties between Universal Music Group and TikTok entered a new and more severe stage in the early hours of Tuesday as songs published by UMG began to be removed from the platform,” Variety reported Tuesday.

“The standoff, which began earlier this month, initially saw recordings owned or distributed by UMG removed from the platform, but now is extending to a much larger number of songs by including those published by the company,” Variety continued. 

Previously, UMG songs had only been muted since the music battle began.  

Movieguide® reported Feb. 9: 

Universal Music Group (UMG) has stopped licensing music to TikTok, and the app has already muted some videos from Christian artists such as Chris Tomlin and Hillsong United…   

“In our contract renewal discussions, we have been pressing them on three critical issues—appropriate compensation for our artists and songwriters, protecting human artists from the harmful effects of AI, and online safety for TikTok’s users,” [a UMG] letter stated… 

In the letter, the group accused the platform of trying to “bully” them into accepting a deal that the label claims is “far less than fair market value” by taking down music from up-and-coming artists while keeping videos of more established artists.   

The details are messy. While UMG mutes and removes its songs on TikTok, it’s unclear how it bases its criteria for its actions in certain cases. Nor is it clear how much music will be affected.  

“For example, [consider] if one of seven writers on a song is under contract to Universal,” Variety said. It’s unclear if the song would be taken down or not.  

“Opinions differ widely: Sources close to UMG claim that it has a share in a majority of the songs on the platform, while ones close to TikTok places the number much smaller, between 20% and 30%,” Variety said. “The latter sources also claim that TikTok has seen no drop in users since UMG music began to be removed earlier this month.” 

UMG’s decisions have upset some singers, songwriters and dance creators. Jarred Jermaine, Lars Gummer and Jack Antoff are a few who voiced their disappointment. 

Antoff said, “You got a whole industry being like, ‘You’ve got to do everything; you’ve got to do everything, and here’s where you’ve got to do it,’ and then one day it’s like, ‘Poof!’… At the very least, we should have known.” 

Editor-in-Chief Nilay Patel of tech news website The Verge said, “I think the big artists are totally okay with this…They know the fans are going to seek them out regardless. It’s the up-and-coming artists who get discovered and who become popular on TikTok that are probably the most worried.” 

More news is expected after UMG’s earnings call this week.  

Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.

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You can make a difference with as little as $7. It takes only a moment. If you can, consider supporting our ministry with a monthly gift. Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.


Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.

What you listen to, watch, and read has power. Movieguide® wants to give you the resources to empower the good and the beautiful. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support.

You can make a difference with as little as $7. It takes only a moment. If you can, consider supporting our ministry with a monthly gift. Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.