Universal threatens to pull Taylor Swift’s songs off TikTok in dispute over payments

Jan 31, 2024, 11:30 AM | Updated: 11:51 am

Taylor Swift performs during her Eras Tour at Allianz Parque in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in November 2023...

Taylor Swift performs during her Eras Tour at Allianz Parque in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in November 2023. Mandatory Credit: Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty Images

London (CNN) — Universal Music Group has threatened to pull its music off TikTok in a dispute over royalties, a move that would prevent more than 1 billion users of the platform from streaming a vast catalog of songs by Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Rihanna and other artists.

On Tuesday, Universal released a statement called “An open letter to the artist and songwriter community — why we must call time out on TikTok,” in which it said its licensing agreement with the platform expires Wednesday. It did not respond to a CNN request for further comment.

One of the issues Universal has been focusing on in its “contract renewal discussions” with TikTok is “appropriate compensation” for its artists and songwriters, the company said. TikTok allows its users to add music to their videos.

TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, had proposed paying a “fraction” of the rate that similarly-sized social media platforms pay, Universal said.

Like other music companies, Netherlands-based Universal charges royalty fees when its songs are played on social media platforms. It also owns music by Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Billie Eilish, J Balvin and Amy Winehouse.

TikTok responded by saying Universal was pushing “false narrative and rhetoric” and accused the company of putting “their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.”

“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 said in a statement.

AI replacing artists?

In its open letter, Universal accused TikTok of “trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music.”

“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,” the music giant said.

Universal also said it had been pressing TikTok to better protect musicians from “the harmful effects” of artificial intelligence and to ensure online safety for TikTok’s users.

TikTok is allowing its platform to be “flooded” with AI-generated music, and provides users with tools to create their own AI-generated recordings, Universal said.

When pressed on these issues, TikTok has responded with “indifference, and then with intimidation”, according to Universal, by removing some of its up-and-coming artists from the platform, while keeping the music of global stars.

In its response, TikTok said it had reached “artist-first” agreements with “every other label and publisher.”

Correction: This article has been corrected to make clear that Universal has not yet pulled its music from TikTok.

Elizabeth Wagmeister contributed to this article.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Soldiers carry the coffin of Ukrainian poet and serviceman Maksym Kryvtsov who was killed in action...

Stephanie Halasz and Ivana Kottasová, CNN

Zelensky warns ‘millions will be killed’ without US aid to Kyiv, as Ukrainian troop deaths reach at least 31,000

“Millions” could die in Ukraine’s war with Russia if US lawmakers don’t approve President Joe Biden’s $60 billion aid request.

2 days ago

Kathy Brandel and her husband of 27 years, Ralph Hendry...

Sharif Paget, Chris Boyette and Polo Sandoval, CNN

Family of Americans believed dead after yacht allegedly hijacked in Grenada describe scene of violence

The family of two Americans who may have been killed in an alleged yacht high jacking in Granada hope the couple might be found alive.

2 days ago

Police tape drapes the crime scene on a trail behind Lake Herrick at the University of Georgia in A...

Ashley R. Williams, Raja Razek, Priscilla Alvarez, Isabel Rosales and Jaide Timm-Garcia, CNN

Questions remain in investigation of death of Augusta University student found on UGA campus

As the investigation continues into the death of an Augusta University student, officials confirmed the immigration status of a suspect.

2 days ago

Kenneth Mitchell, here in 2018, has died....

Megan Thomas, CNN

Kenneth Mitchell, ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Marvel’ actor, dead at 49

A native of Canada, Mitchell acquired more than 50 film and television credits over the course of his acting career. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2019.

3 days ago

Charles E. Escalera, 21...

Michelle Watson and Maria Sole Campinoti, CNN

Kentucky man arrested in connection with death of Campbellsville University student

A man has been arrested in connection with the death of a student at Campbellsville University in Kentucky.

3 days ago

Former President Donald Trump walks on stage during the 2024 NRB International Christian Media Conv...

Fredreka Schouten, CNN

Wisconsin ethics panel recommends criminal prosecution for a Trump fundraising committee

A Wisconsin ethics panel is recommending that prosecutors pursue charges against one of Donald Trump’s fundraising arms.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Universal threatens to pull Taylor Swift’s songs off TikTok in dispute over payments