Since music industry giant Universal Music Group (UMG) failed to reach a new licensing deal with TikTok last week, thousands of videos using UMG-owned music have been suddenly muted , as the company began removing its audios from the TikTok library, including likes. by Drake, Bad Bunny and Taylor Swift.
Artists on labels owned by UMG, including Tyla, Jack AntonoffAnd J.Balvin posted their reactions in the news, sharing their feelings of disagreement and emphasizing the importance of social media in promoting their careers. “Yeah, I mean, my career is over for sure,” Conan Gray, who gained popularity thanks to TikTokkers adapting his songs into viral audios, said rolling stone on the subject. “I’ll never have a hit song at that rate again. No, no, it's okay.
TikTok itself has echoed artists' concerns and frustrations. In a statement posted on January 30, the company wrote: “TikTok has managed to secure 'artist first' deals with every other label and publisher. Clearly, Universal's selfish actions are not in the best interest of artists, songwriters, and fans. » TikTok declined to comment further when The daily beast reach.
UMG offered a counterargument. In a statement provided to The Daily Beast, the company wrote: “As you can surely understand, we must fight to protect our artists and songwriters. TikTok wants you to believe that since they are offering artists “free promotion” that artists should be grateful for, they have no obligation to pay them fairly. What they don't tell you is that they generate tens of billions of dollars in revenue from artists' work and are building the world's largest and most valuable social media platform from of their music.
The statement ends with an apology for the “frustrating” situation this has created for users, before concluding: “Imagine how frustrating it is for the thousands of artists and songwriters that TikTok refuses to pay fairly while they reap tens of billions of dollars. »
But the impact has not been limited to just artists and songwriters looking to further their careers: it has also sent deep shockwaves across different niches of the creator economy. The fangirls filmed themselves fall to your knees or standing in silent greetings after realizing that many of their beloved fancams had been muted. Others posted, shocked, that the songs of their favorite artists disappeared. “They officially removed all Lana del Rey audio 😭 this thing is no joke,” one user said wrote. “POV: I open Tiktok this morning and see that all my favorite edits have had their audios removed,” BookTok creator @cassiesbooktok jobalongside a video in which her face falls while looking at her phone, as she realizes what happened to the platform.
Mikael Arellano, creator of popular dance to Taylor Swift's “Bejeweled,” created a TikTok on February 1 in response to the song's disappearance. In the video, he sings an a cappella cover of the song while dancing. “me now that all my bejeweled videos are about to be cut”, Arellano subtitle the post office. The official OneRepublic group account commented below. “Can you help us too,” they said.
Dancer and content creator Lars Gummerwho choreographed viral dance to Kaliii's “Area Codes,” her videos started being muted the day after the announcement. He told The Daily Beast that his first reaction was one of shock, which quickly turned to disappointment. “Most of my friends in Los Angeles are content creators, especially dance creators,” he said. “So we were immediately all angry at the decision made between UMG and TikTok. But ultimately, it's our job. So we're going to make this work one way or another.
Creators are a major part of the music industry's promotional landscape. Gummer has worked with UMG in the past to promote specific songs, through a partnership he called Song Promos. He said that in the music industry landscape, he doesn't know how music promotion will progress without the established pillar of advertising. “I don't see how [artists] will be able to promote their music in such a casual, organic way, and it’s a loss for both of us,” he said.
Beauty designer Sharon Wu, known as @sourandnasty on TikTok, said the impact is also being felt in different areas of content creation. She often uses popular music to reach new viewers And inspire makeup looks for his channel. “Music is a good way to increase searchability and find common ground with your audience,” she said. “At first it didn't worry me much, because there are other artists from other labels who are still on the platform, but a lot of big artists like Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo were affected, and I accomplished [removing their music] could affect many creators.
Swift's music in particular plays a big role in Wu's own videos. One of Wu's viral series last year was a collection of TikToks in which she created makeup looks based on songs by Taylor Swift Midnights album. The series has garnered over 5.7 million views, but some videos have been muted following the exodus. “A lot of people are using official audios to reach a wider audience and now we feel like we have to find another method to compensate for that,” she said. “I'm sure creators in less related niches will simply shift to using music from non-UMG artists or unofficial audios, but this will definitely impact creators in the music industry who speak and make music.”
Dancer and content creator Jake Craig (@jakeluvsgaga) said he felt the removal was a disservice not only to other creators, but also to the artists themselves. “Everyone knows that TikTok is the fastest way to go viral and reach the masses these days,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult for creators to succeed because it’s a channel. When artists stream their music on TIkTok, it inspires content creators to create dances, which helps their accounts grow.
Craig emphasized that the impact goes beyond just the business side of things. “A lot of the videos I've created have been with my best friends and some really memorable moments, and now it's hard to watch those videos without the sound on,” he said. “It's not really about the views at that time, because most of the videos that were disabled were from a long time ago. It's just more about the memories associated with these videos.
Already, users have started creating memes speculating about what will come next. Some joked about replacing everything audios with Joy covers or performed the songs they would normally lip-sync to themselves. But even some of these options won't work. “I was going to make a joke that now that all the artists' music is no longer available, I'm going to have to use Kidz Bop covers,” he said. said. “But all their songs also came from this app.”
And the artists concerned themselves are offering ideas to circumvent the deletion. Singer Beabadoobee posted a video on February 3 in reaction to the news. “Um, I took my music off so I guess it's 2x,” she wrote in the caption. Rapper bbno$ released a new satirical remix of his viral TikTok song “edamame”, just for the app.
“People are so creative here,” Craig added. This won't stop anyone from doing what they love. »
Many creators are looking forward to the potential that this era could bring. Gummer says he's curious about the creative changes creating dance content could bring. “I see the landscape of creating dance content shifting toward creating dances to songs that creators actually love,” he said. “In a way, it takes away the whole 'audio trend' aspect and leaves more opportunities for creators to dance to songs because they want to, not because they're viral.”
“I’m not nervous about creating content in the future,” he said. “There are so many small, independent artists who deserve so much recognition and praise for their craft. If there was ever a time to support small artists, it’s now.