Universal Music Initiates Song Removal from TikTok Amid Licensing Dispute

By Milcah Tanimu

A recent showdown between Universal Music Group (UMG) and TikTok has resulted in UMG pulling its music from the popular social media platform. The move occurred just a day before the expiration of UMG’s licensing contract with TikTok. UMG publicly expressed dissatisfaction through an open letter, accusing TikTok of unfair compensation practices and the proliferation of AI-generated music, which allegedly diminishes the earnings of genuine musicians.

In response, TikTok accused UMG of prioritizing greed over the interests of artists and songwriters, highlighting the platform’s contribution to promoting and discovering talent for free. The fallout was swift, with UMG artist recordings disappearing from TikTok’s music library, and existing videos featuring UMG tracks having their audio silenced. Users found themselves frustrated, unable to use Universal songs in new videos.

For instance, a video by a Nigerian influencer featuring a hit track from UMG artist Burna Boy went silent, displaying a message stating, “This sound isn’t available.” Similar copyright restriction messages appeared on numerous videos using UMG music.

Even official profiles of UMG artists, such as Burna Boy, had their music options reduced to a few brief snippets, disappointing and confusing fans. The impact on the Nigerian TikTok community is notable, although the exact number of affected videos remains unclear.

Both UMG and TikTok representatives have not disclosed details about their negotiations or the reasons behind the music withdrawal. Nevertheless, the bold move by UMG has sent shockwaves through the music industry. TikTok, with its extensive user base, plays a crucial role in music promotion in Nigeria, supporting emerging and established artists.

The ongoing battle between UMG and TikTok is closely watched by music enthusiasts in Nigeria, and the resolution of this dispute remains uncertain as tensions persist.


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