The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


The independent news website of The Kent Stater & TV2


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OPINION: TikTok vs. music giant: What the future holds

Hannah Bulgrin

Universal Music Group (UMG) officially removed all their music from TikTok on Feb. 1, 2024. At first notice, this may not seem like a huge deal. Some may not even know what UMG does or what kind of company they are, but for TikTok users, this news is detrimental for many accounts.

UMG is a huge Dutch-American music corporation with ties and contracts to some of the biggest names in the music industry. Among this list of artists are familiar names like Taylor Swift, Drake, Lana Del Ray, BTS and hundreds more. 

Recently, they announced that they were pulling music from TikTok due to issues with compensation and pay. They argued that their artists deserved more, pointing out that TikTok paid “a fraction” of what other social media platforms agreed to. The music giant also brought up issues with the app’s promotion of AI-generated music and claimed it was harmful to human artists. 

When they could not reach an agreement, TikTok released a statement saying, “It is sad and disappointing that Universal Music Group has put their own greed above the interests of their artists and songwriters.” It seems that TikTok has taken the stance that they are a small platform that does not have the means to compensate these huge artists. While the app would take a hit financially if it did pay UMG the amount they demanded, it would put only a minor dent in this $140 billion company.

This situation has upset many of the app’s users, especially those who rely on these artists’ music to promote their content. 

TikTok has gained much popularity due to the abundance of “edits” on its platform. To those of you who are unfamiliar with this style of video, it can be loosely described as a form of media (books, television shows, movies) combined with a song in a series of short or long video clips. It may seem like a weird concept, but this video format has exploded in popularity on the app and is a huge draw for users. 

Many of these videos have over 10 million views and millions of likes, but on Feb. 1, the creators and viewers woke up to their videos muted and their hard work destroyed. Some accounts had their entire feed dedicated to artists like Taylor Swift or BTS and now have to rebuild, as all of their songs have been removed from the app. 

It has been a hard couple of days for many TikTokers, and some take humor in the situation while others spiral. Most are left wondering, “What now?”

Some creators have fully embraced the situation and are now posting edits to non-copyright music in order to make a joke of the situation. Others have begun to use music from undiscovered or underground artists that aren’t connected to this huge music company. Changing the speed or distorting this music can also help avoid copyright issues, and some editors have decided to switch apps all together.

Apps like Instagram seem to be the new hotspot for editors. Their new feature, Instagram Reels, allows creators to rebuild their fanbase and successfully replaces TikTok. I recall the glory days when Instagram was the main app for these “edit accounts,” and I would not be surprised if there was a resurgence in these accounts as TikTok and UMG attempt to reconcile their disputes.

I doubt this change will last forever, as both of these companies benefit from one another. UMG needs the free promotion TikTok provides, and TikTok benefits from the millions of videos posted to these artists’ sounds. It will be interesting to follow as this all unfolds, but I’m confident in the abilities of those who depended on these artists’ music to adapt to this change, however long it should last.

Hannah Bulgrin is an opinion writer. Contact her at [email protected].

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