May 23, 2024

Millions of TikTok users are finding the sounds within their videos gone, as disagreements between the social media app TikTok and major record label Universal Music Group (UMG) have caused UMG to remove all of its artists’ songs from the app. 

The app is quieter than before without some of the world’s most prominent musicians’ songs on TikTok. In 2020, TikTok was popularized for dancing videos that used many songs from artists under Universal Music Group, and most recently, vlog-like videos with music in the background have been a trend. Even videos where the music isn’t the main focus have been muted. 

TikTok and Universal’s recent licensing agreement expired and both companies could not agree on a new one. According to Universal in a statement, TikTok’s issues include compensation for artists and songwriters and the need to protect artists from the harmful effects of AI music creations. 

The record label company stated in an open letter to the artist and songwriter community-why we must call time out on TikTok located on their website, “TikTok attempted to bully us into accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value, and not reflective of their exponential growth.” 

TikTok publicly responded on TikTok Newsroom to this statement by saying, “It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interest of their artist and songwriters.” 

In their statement, TikTok also mentioned that they have been able to reach artist-first agreements with other labels.  

 Two CBU students shared their opinions of the app’s new change. 

Madison Dear, sophomore social work major, has used TikTok for a while and shared her thoughts on seeing recent and older videos with no sound anymore. 

“I am a little disappointed to find out that big music artists’ sounds were removed on TikTok. It is sad to come across videos where the sound has been removed,” Dear said. 

When asked how this change will affect how she personally uses the app, Dear said it will decrease her activity. 

“I do believe that this change will impact the way I use this app. If there are no songs that I recognize or like, I will be less interested in using TikTok,” she said. 

Lauryn Navarro, freshman nutrition major, shared her thoughts on Universal pulling their artist from TikTok. 

“I think TikTok is the reason a lot of songs got recognized. Now that a lot of them are off, it sucks because that opportunity isn’t there anymore,” said Navarro. 

Well-known musician Noah Kahan has also spoken out about what is happening on the app. He posted a short TikTok speaking on the topic and doesn’t seem  pleased with what is happening. 

He mentioned that some of his songs won’t be on the app anymore and he can’t promote his songs on TikTok. His video explained that TikTok is a good platform for artists, including him. It is a place where songs become hits, which is what happened to him and a number of other artists whose songs found an audience on TikTok. Kahan ended his TikTok trying to calm himself.  

“I’ll probably be OK, right? I’ll land on my feet, right…right?” Kahan said.

It’s clear that TikTok is and was a place for musicians to promote their songs. With what has happened between UMG and TikTok, many musicians cannot do this. With Universal Music Group being such a large record label, it may still pose a problem for less established artists. Currently, it is unclear exactly how much this will change TikTok as an app. 

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