A plethora of A-list artists like Bob Marley, Drake, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and more may see their music stripped from TikTok tonight following Universal Music Group’s failed negotiations with the platform.
TikTok has quickly become one of the most used social media platforms today, with an unmatched growing user base that drives viral moments in pop culture and music. Some of the biggest artists in the world have seen great success on TikTok as their music has become ubiquitous across the platform. However, that might all change in the blink of an eye as Universal Music Group has threatened to remove the music of all its artists from the social platform after their current contract expires at midnight on January 31.
According to a statement by UMG posted as an open letter to its artists and songwriters on Tuesday (Jan. 30), the record label was not successful in their attempt to reach a fair agreement with TikTok. As such, many of our favorite major artists like Nicki Minaj, Drake, Kendrick, The Weeknd, SZA, and even the iconic Bob Marley may see their music removed from the platform.
UMG cited TikTok as “trying to build a music-based business, without paying fair value for the music” as a major reason for the fallout, claiming that the platform proposed paying their artists and songwriters “at a rate that is a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay.”
To put things into perspective, the record label revealed that “TikTok accounts for only about 1%” of their total revenue.
Furthermore, UMG alleged that TikTok tried to “bully” them into accepting a deal “worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value and not reflective of their exponential growth.” They added that the platform used intimidation tactics such as “selectively removing the music of certain of [their] developing artists” while keeping songs from major “audience-driving” artists to get them to concede.
In a succinct response on Tuesday, TikTok said UMG “put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters,” adding that they were able to “reach ‘artist-first’ agreements with every other label and publisher.”
“Despite Universal’s false narrative and rhetoric, the fact is 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 wrote in part.
As Universal Music Group is one of the biggest music conglomerates in the world, responsible for a large number of record labels, including Def Jam, Interscope, Republic, Island Records, and much more, the result of the dispute will mean a vast number of artists’ music will no longer be available on TikTok. The extensive list is so unfathomable that fans find the prospect a bit hard to conceive.
A number of reggae and dancehall acts would also be affected by this move, including Bob Marley, Shenseea, Sean Paul, and Masicka. In addition, the music of massive pop acts like Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, who have publishing deals with record labels under the UMG umbrella, including Republic, Island Records, and Def Jam, would also be subjected to removal from the platform.
Fans are apprehensively biting their nails while they await a verdict in this dispute, holding out hope that one of the two parties will fold. Otherwise, TikTok is gonna start looking and sounding a lot different than we’re used to.