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SZA, Doja Cat songs now also being removed on TikTok
2024/03/11

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The social media platform, TikTok, has been embroiled in a licensing feud causing several hit songs, including SZA’s “Kill Bill,” Doja Cat’s “Paint the Town Red (Sped Up)” and Mariah Carey’s classic “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” to vanish from the application. The contention started when Universal Music Group (UMG), the owner of these songs, slammed TikTok in January for underpaying and insufficiently protecting its artists.

Once the licensing contract between the two expired at the end of January, numerous artists’ songs, including titans like Taylor Swift, BTS, Billie Eilish, Adele, and Bad Bunny, seen on countless TikToks, either disappeared or were muted.

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This new action expands to songwriters under Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG). TikTok revealed that all music pieces authored or co-authored by a songwriter under UMPG’s wing were to be expelled from the application and any respective videos muted.

The impact of this fallout is profound. A TikTok spokesperson shared that the combined catalog of UMG and UMPG comprises 20-30% of the platform's popular music, varying by region.

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UMG plans to discuss the situation during its earnings call on Wednesday.

UMG made its dissatisfaction clear in an open letter, accusing TikTik of proposing a payment rate “a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay." They further charged TikTok with using bullying tactics to accept this inferior deal and for condoning AI-generated recordings on its platform.

TikTok users, predictably, have reacted with outrage and frustration, terming UMG’s actions a “mute-pocalypse.

” In defiance, some have shared workarounds to salvage the music affected by the discord—although such tactics risk account deactivation for violating TikTok's user agreement. As this licensing feud escalates, the true casualties are the creators and consumers who lose out on their favorite tracks and the potential creativity they inspire.

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