Universal Music Group (UMG) says it will stop licensing its songs to TikTok starting from Wednesday.


UMG, one of the largest music companies in the world, in a scathing open letter, accused TikTok of attempting to “bully” and “intimidate” them into “accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, and not reflective of their exponential growth”.

In the letter dated January 30 and addressed to the “artiste and songwriter community,” UMG disclosed that its negotiations for a new contract with TikTok ended without an agreement. It added that the deal which expired on January 31 will not be renewed.

The music company said it failed to reach new deal terms with TikTok over issues including “higher compensation for its artistes and songwriters, protection against AI-generated recordings, and online safety issues for users”.


UMG claimed that TikTok proposed paying its artistes “a fraction of the rate that similarly situated major social platforms pay,” and that the service “has offered no meaningful solutions” to content issues like “bullying, bigotry, and harassment, including pornographic deepfakes of artistes”.

The music company alleged that the streaming giants tried to “intimidate” them “by selectively removing the music of certain of our developing artistes” while keeping their top stars on the platform.

In a blistering response to UMG, the streaming giants claimed the music company has “put their greed above the interests of their artistes and songwriters”.


TikTok, owned by Chinese internet conglomerate ByteDance, also accused UMG of promoting “false narratives and rhetoric”.

The two companies’ disagreement has the potential to affect TikTok’s 1 billion users as well as UMG’s hundreds of musicians and songwriters across the world.

Top artistes on UMG labels include Drake, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Adele, U2, and Elton John. Others are Nigerian entertainers like Mr. Eazi, Tekno, Larry Gaaga, and Tiwa Savage.

If the two companies cannot reach an agreement, music by these artistes will not be available for use in videos on the social media platform. Also, thousands of existing videos featuring those songs will be potentially muted.


In 2019, Tiwa Savage revealed how her deal with UMG amplified her music to over 60 countries.

She said joining the music group “is also an opportunity for Afrobeats songs to thrive evenly alongside other international genres of music”.

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