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TikTok Starts Removing UMPG Songs (Which Is a Bigger Deal Than Just UMG's Music)

Photo by Mourizal Zativa / Unsplash

In January, TikTok and Universal Music Group had a public face-off, which was a result of the two companies' failure to renew the licence deal that allowed TikTok to use UMG's music in its videos. We've written a deep dive on that beef, so check it out. In that piece, we also noted that the face-off would cause a much larger music catalogue to be pulled from TikTok than merely the Universal Music Group roster's songs. Which is already happening.

TikTok is now starting to remove compositions that belong to Universal Music Publishing Group, meaning that the conflict is affecting every track that UMG owns and in which the label represents a songwriting cut.

As Music Ally reports, "it’s a big deal, because from now the dispute will be affecting a wider range of tracks that are not released by UMG, but which are based on compositions written (or co-written) by songwriters signed to UMPG."

Songs included in a publishing catalogue are usually recorded by artists under contracts with different record labels. For instance, Adele is signed to Sony Music/Columbia for her records but to Universal Music Publishing Group for publishing. Consequently, this arrangement implies that her songs, along with those of numerous other artists, could also be subject to removal.

Back in January, Music Business Worldwide noted that "if a UMPG writer contributed just 1% of the songwriting credits to that recording, it too would need to come off TikTok."

So now, even more videos will be silent, containing soundless dances and muted lip-syncing. All in all, it'll be millions of songs that will surely be affected by the conflict between the two major industry companies. An MBW report earlier this month said it could be 80% of "relevant repertoire" on TikTok, Music Ally notes.

TikTok reports, though, that the combined catalogues of UMG and UPMG represent approximately 20% to 30% of "popular songs," varying by region. Besides, the platform (still) has active licence deals with Sony Music Group and Warner Music Group.  

We don't know yet how many tracks will be removed and how many videos will go silent. One is clear: the face-off consequences won't go unnoticed for artists, TikTok creators, fans, and both companies alike.

Suggested read: TikTokification of Music Industry: Is It a Real Thing? Spoiler: not so much.